Home Feature What’s Next In EventTech: New Orleans-based WRSTBND Talks Innovation Inside The Festival Scene

What’s Next In EventTech: New Orleans-based WRSTBND Talks Innovation Inside The Festival Scene

by Maija Ehlinger

EventTech was a natural fit for Conway Solomon. As a tech enthusiast, he started working at his brother’s New Orleans-based event production company back in high school and the space immediately pulled him in. 

“I found that the event world had so many variables,” Solomon told Hypepotamus. “Every festival was different…and with festivals, we’re basically building a city for that weekend. We’re taking places that are an open slate, and we have to layer in our equipment, thought process, site planning, and maps to make it work.” 

The team initially started building an internal software tool to help events run more smoothly on the backend. But word about the technology got out within the event space as the team started working with large events like Essence Festival in New Orleans. 

As interest grew in their event management platform, the team decided to spin off the technology part of the business into a separate entity. The result was WRSTBND, a startup focused on ticketing, access control, and payment solutions in the entertainment space. 

Behind WRSTBND is a hardware and software solution that helps with event entry, credential verification, guest engagement, and payment processing. 

Beyond custom wristbands, WRSTBND built a payment and POS system that creates a more curated experience for festival-goers, allowing festivals to automatically differentiate VIP ticket holders, crew members, and ultimately provide different access or promos based on credential level. 

Unlike its competitors, WRSTBND has also built out custom scanning hardware that creates a better access control experience. “We built that because there was a number of limitations that we were up against….things like being resilient offline, dealing with poor internet connectivity, and needing to have custom LEDs so that it can be seen outside. It’s a very specific product, but it has allowed us to build a moat in terms of product differentiation,” Solomon added.  

Even while working on events with tens of thousands of patrons, Solomon said the goal is to be a “boutique provider” for events looking to scale. 

The State of EventTech

The EventTech landscape has totally shifted in the wake of the pandemic. But Solomon says many of the changes have made events even better for operators and attendees alike. 

“The phrase that I love to use and always come back to is that it’s harder to change the wheels on the bus with the bus moving 80 than when the bus isn’t moving. And there are very few times in the [events] industry when the bus isn’t moving. So the pandemic was a really unique time when festivals, events, and sports got to collect their thoughts.” 

The WRSTBND team scaled down to just its development and R&D team during the pandemic and focused on building out new products. 

It ended 2021 with 12 full-time staff members and $1.5 million in yearly revenue. 

“Personally, what I’m most excited about is the elimination of lines and chaos,” Solomon added. “People are relatively accustomed now to spreading out or picking a reservation time. It’s not like the Wild West of traditional shows where 100,000 people show up at the same time.” 

He sees WRSTBND’s solutions as part of streamlining the event experience for our post-pandemic world. “ I think [a lot of these changes] create a far better user experience. What’s really interesting about this pandemic is that a lot of the things that have been implemented  — contactless entry and queuing lines and timed ticketing, etc. — are things that are going to stick around.”

If you are planning a 2022 festival outing, there is a good chance you may interact with WRSTBND’s tech. They’ve already worked with Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Tales of the Cocktail, and several big sporting events. 

If you want to check them out here in the Southeast, you will see them at Sweetwater 420 Fest in Atlanta later this year, Tampa’s Gasparilla Music Fest this February, and at several events across New Orleans.

 

 

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