First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: My family and I are doing well! My husband is also my cofounder, so we’ve been working closely to pivot and adapt during this unprecedented time for the Broadway and live events industry.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Broadway Roulette.
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: After a decade in the trenches of New York’s entertainment scene, I saw the opportunity to pair expiring inventory to cultural events with consumers struggling with decision fatigue — and Broadway Roulette was born. Using Broadway Roulette, customers select dates, number of tickets, and input some basic data about what they like (i.e., musicals only / kid-friendly shows) and don’t. Broadway Roulette’s proprietary algorithm then “spins the wheel” to match the customer with a show that fits their criteria — all for a low, flat price of $49. Every seat beats the list price, which means it would be more expensive if the customer had purchased from the show directly, and every time the customer spins, they see something new. The more they spin and rate the shows they see, the better the algorithm predicts which shows moving forward will be a hit!
In 2018, Broadway Roulette joined Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab; an accelerator focused on female and minority-led companies positioned for sizeable growth. In 2020, spurred by the Broadway shutdown, we pivoted to launch Broadway Mixers, which connect Broadway artists with would-be audiences for fun, unscripted, Q&A opportunities as well as exclusive performances. I’ve been a panelist for Forbes Women, Women in Digital, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Technology Conference, and Bustle Digital Group, a frequent guest on podcasts such as FemmeTrepreneur and Financial Grownup.
How does Broadway Roulette innovate?
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: Broadway Roulette is the only blind-purchase ticketing platform for live events (think Priceline for theater). The concept is pretty simple: Make the ticket-purchase process fun and easy (instead of not fun and not easy), and more people will go to Broadway, more often.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: When Broadway closed due to COVID, we launched a new virtual platform called Broadway Mixer. Broadway Roulette Mixer is a fun and easy way to mix with Broadway talent from anywhere in the world! On the morning of your mixer, you’ll receive an email with a link to join. Simply log in and get ready for behind-the-scenes stories, unscripted Q&A, and exclusive performances from Broadway’s best! Just don’t get too attached – every 15 minutes, Broadway Roulette “spins the wheel,” and a new surprise guest arrives! Recent guests have included artists from Hamilton, Book of Mormon, SIX, and more! 10% of profits are donated to The Actors Fund.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: Yes, we had to choose whether to double-down and launch a brand new business or trim down the team. We decided to go for it. This means we are all working long hours, weekends, and performing tasks that are not part of our core skill sets. (We’ve become talent bookers, sales reps, and more!) But having a team willing to do whatever it takes … including working at 11 pm on a Monday night to host a Mixer for a corporation based in Los Angeles … is what has made all the difference.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Broadway Roulette in the future?
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: I meditate every morning for 10 minutes using the Calm app. I absolutely hate it, but I know it helps 🙂 I also take a bath before every night. It helps me settle after the day and prepares me for a solid night of sleep — which is an absolute must.
In the future, I think Broadway Roulette will return to its core of ticketing, but I believe Broadway Mixers will continue in their own right. Mixers allow us to expand our marketing capabilities for Broadway shows and serve customers not physically in New York City. That has been a game-changer for our company and is one of the silver linings of COVID.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: We currently do not have any competitors who do what we do with a blind purchase model. There are other apps and ways to get Broadway tickets (both discounted and not), but we have carved out a pretty unique space in this very insular industry. We are always thinking of ways to serve our show partners and our customers better and continue to do that moving forward. While we are a small team, which many people can see as a challenge, the reality is that having fewer cooks in the kitchen allows us to fail fast, move on, and lean into the things that are working without a bunch of meetings or red tape.
Your final thoughts?
Elizabeth Durand Streisand: As a founder, I planned for a lot of “worst case” scenarios — but never for something like this. It is a testament to my team that we have pivoted to launch a new business model that not only functions during this time that stages are dark, but will continue to have a home and role long after Broadway returns. Hire people smarter than you who have a passion for what you’re trying to build.
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