Leadership & Productivity

Bringing tech and theatre together – raising funding for Stagedoor

5 min read

21 December 2017

Former special projects journalist

How do you raise finance if your business unites two usually quite disparate industries? This was a challenge faced by Stagedoor, a platform fusing tech and theatre.

Stagedoor markets itself as the world’s first “theatre discovery” platform. It helps theatre-goers find and book shows by offering recommendations based on their personal preferences, as well as through recommendations from the Stagedoor community.

Through the platform, users can access a database of theatre shows with synopses, cast details, photos, and reviews.

The company was started by a team with experience in both the theatre and tech spaces, and Real Business sat down with Michael Hadjijoseph to find out how the group made their idea a reality.

How did the business get started?

“We felt that theatre deserved a better, simpler way to keep up to date with what’s on and good to see. As theatre-lovers ourselves, we were frustrated to miss out on seeing some really great shows despite our best efforts.

“We looked at other industries where technology played a big role in how people discover things and we felt that theatre could benefit from the kind of technology being used by the likes of Netflix and Spotify to help people discover great art and entertainment.”

“The team built the prototype of Stagedoor and raised our first round of funding in January 2016. Since then we’ve grown to a team of eight people, working to create content, develop the product and grow the business”

What is the biggest challenge the business has faced?

“Fundraising is always a challenge for young startups. For us it was especially interesting as we’re positioned in the intersection of tech and theatre. Both of these industries have strong communities of investors, but their interests are both quite different from each other.

“One challenge with the tech investors was helping them realise that theatre is not a ‘niche’ industry. There were £472m of theatre sales in the UK in 2016 – and that figure is growing all the time.”

“When it came to theatre investors, the challenge was showing them that our company wasn’t too ‘techy’ for them to be a part of. We are working to become a part of the eco-system so we live and breathe the theatre industry.

“Finding the right investors was a challenge but we have had a very encouraging fundraise recently so we are very happy with the result. Especially as we opened this last round up to our users via the Seedrs crowdfunding platform – we were overwhelmed by their enthusiasm.”

How was your business initially funded?

“We’ve been fortunate to receive an EU Innovation Grant worth €135,000 and we have raised €230,000 from angel investors.

“We have just completed a second fundraising of £350,000 – a large part of which came by crowdfunding on Seedrs. This has been a really encouraging experience as so many of our users have bought into the company.”

What tips do you have for other businesses for pitching a business to an investor?

“You have to find a way to express your passion and enthusiasm for your vision that is balanced by a conservative appreciation of financial realities and expectations.

“Crunch the numbers, do your research and don’t make any promises you can’t keep. When it comes to investors, it’s always better to under promise and over deliver. That might seem strange when you’re trying to demonstrate how great your idea is – but if you can do that while keeping your eye on the big picture opportunity, you’ll do great.”

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

“Over the next 12-15 months, our objective is to reach 100,000 users in London and launch the app in New York, where we already have some strategic investors and partners.”

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.