An entrepreneur in the Multicultural Innovation Lab helps people see Broadway shows—provided they are flexible about which shows they see.
As one of the rare New Yorkers with an extra bedroom in her apartment, Liz Durand Streisand found herself playing host and tour guide to many friends visiting New York City. One item that was on everyone’s “must see” list but rarely crossed off was the desire to see a Broadway show. “Nobody really cared what show they saw, they just wanted a fun experience. But the process to figuring that out was so confusing and exhausting, most of them ended up saying ‘Forget it’,” she said.
That’s what led the former entertainment writer to start Broadway Roulette, a platform that makes buying tickets to a Broadway show easy, affordable and fun. The twist? The show is a surprise. You can eliminate several shows you don’t want included, and then the “roulette” kicks in: the show you’ll ultimately see is largely left to chance.
That surprise element is a plus, not a minus, according to Streisand. “You pay a reasonable price, and you get a good seat to a show you have not seen before that you may have otherwise missed. Not having to pick the show takes the pressure off so you can relax and have a good time.”
This inventive solution is why Broadway Roulette was selected to participate in Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, in which multicultural and women entrepreneurs receive a $200,000 investment plus mentoring, office space in the firm’s headquarters, and a full curriculum of training and coaching.
“There is something so nice about being surrounded by other serious entrepreneurs who are going through the same pain points and sharing our strategies,” said Streisand, who has been particularly impressed interacting with Vice Chairman and Managing Director Carla Harris, who heads up the Lab. “Carla is a great role model who brings an expert’s perspective to help us think through talking to investors and continuing to grow our business.”
When Streisand began pitching her idea to sell tickets for shows people did not directly choose, she was met with a lot of skepticism.
“They thought nobody would pay for a show they didn't pick,” she said. “We do more than sell Broadway tickets; we engage you in an experience. We want to eventually sell other experiences. Too lazy to plan a date night? Click here and tomorrow you’ll get an email that outlines your entire evening out: a cocktail here, then a show there, with dinner after.”
And once people experienced how easy it was to use Broadway Roulette, they kept coming back. “A good chunk of our business is repeat customers – people who loved what we opened their eyes to, and who are excited to have something to do with minimal planning,” Streisand said.
With the long term goal of becoming the Priceline for evening events, her immediate focus is on dominating the New York market before expanding to other cities. “Eventually, we’ll be planning everyone’s night,” Streisand said.