5gig, a social network for concert goers, gets more money and eyes rest of Europe

nvivo[Spain] Nvivo.es has been around for 3 years now here in Spain. It’s a name most of the online scene is quite familiar with, especially those that frequent concerts.  Nvivo, which sounds like “en vivo” or “live” in Spanish, is a social network for concert goers, the place to discover upcoming music venues, follow artists, manage your own concert agenda and, according to nvivo, never miss another concert again.

Sounds a lot like Songkick? Yup. Very much so, although nvivo launched first but with less noise. Nowadays, competition is abundant. While Songkick focuses on the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (the English speaking countries), nvivo.es has been busy rolling out local European versions, branding itself as 5gig internationally. It’s currently available in the US, UK, France, Italy, The Netherlands and Germany under the 5gig brand and is aggregating 35 different concert providers across all 7 countries.

5gig currently has around 100,000 registered users, with the majority of content coming from concert goers, artists and the venues themselves. Entering France was big news for the company as part of their attempt to be the dominant force in non-English speaking Europe, conscious of course of how difficult it is for a Spanish startup to get to English speakers. Songkick, with it’s renown partners and investors including Y Combinator, Dan Porter, co-founder of Ticketweb, Stefan Glaenzer, ex-chairman at Last.fm and Index Ventures, without a doubt gets a lot more press too.

Although 5gig is promising, particularly based of their small but relentless team, composed of Carlos Sanchez Valle and Alvaro Ortiz, a pretty well known personality in our back of the woods, along with a tight team of collaborators and board members, the challenge of entering into foreign and unfamiliar markets can’t be underestimated. The strategy so far has been to expand quickly into numerous markets by adapting to each country, localizing content, reaching agreements with local providers and signing on Country Managers based out of Spain. This is in contrast to most startups who choose to grow and mature in one market at a time. 5gig has plans to enter additional European markets in 2010.

With 200.000 euros from their first round (2008), an award of 125.000 euros in credit funding from ENISA, a Spanish public initiative to help technology startups, and an injection of another 125.000 euros from the current shareholders, nvivo has new energy and money to propel them forward, although they’re not as well funded as, perhaps, they would be if they were located in a different part of the world. Generally, this is how startup funding tends to work (or not) here in Spain.

When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of launching a startup in Spain, Valle responds, “If you add to the difficulties of entrepreneurship here in Spain, the little access to funding, we are fighting in this war with the worst weapons. A company like ours could have received 5 times more funding in the UK or US.”  Something I personally wonder about and hope to question in the months to come.