Last Thursday, a crowd of Seattleites gathered at Capitol Hill's Melrose Market Studios to celebrate Sosh, a local event listings app, which launched in Seattle last month. Grammy award winner and Seattle native Allen Stone serenaded the crowd while they sipped on whiskey-focused cocktails from Canon and munched on classic camping food from Skillet: hot dogs, baked beans and s’mores… in a jar.
Skillet's gluten-free S'mores ... sans graham crackers. Photo: Kate Harloe
A stuffed grizzly bear on loan from the neighboring Glasswing, a nearby artisan-boutique-gallery-Portlandia-skit amalgamation, was an Instagram celebrity.
Really hitting hard with the PNW decor. Photo: Hailey Way
Using a complicated algorithim, Sosh scrapes highlights from online reviews and social media to create listings of local events. Each event description is then reviewed by an editor and posted on Sosh. Upon registration, users pick a city, choose multiple categories they fancy, and instantly a list of tempting dinners, happy hours, hikes, concerts and classes are at their fingertips. Seattle “tastemakers” Ethan Stowell, Jamie Boudreau of Canon, and Loulay’s Thierry Rautureau served as event curators for the initial launch.
“Let’s use humans and technology to unite people with good taste,” CEO Rishi Mandal, whose wife is from Seattle, suggested last Thursday.
If Sosh's "local" marketing is a little heavy-handed, the app, which officially launched in Seattle in February, is already a mainstay in San Francisco and New York. In fact, TechCrunch recently reported that one in six San Franciscans are users. In Seattle, the app has been steadily increasing its user base, according to marketing manager Sarah Loaiza, though specific numbers weren't forthcoming.
“Good content is what people are excited to see; people were enthused to see all the events Seattle has to offer, so the product really sells itself,” Loaiza said.
According to Mandal, Seattle's size, geography and diversity of interests made it the team's logical next-choice for expansion. Where the app's New York edition is food and drink-centric, Seattle users are much more open to other entertainment, such as a broad range of outdoor activities. While Sosh is designed to connect people with their existing interests, it will also occasionally throw in a wild card class or event, which Mandal says opens users up to try something new.
Fast-forwarding to this Thursday, Sosh had another announcement aimed at raising revenue. Artists, business owners and event organizers can now submit their events for promotion on Sosh in exchange for a 5 percent cut of gross ticket sales.
“Sosh really shines when highlighting activities by local artists, and Seattle is a bedrock of that," Loaiza explained last Thursday. "For that reason, while Seattle doesn't have the largest population, we felt that culturally it was a perfect fit." Though she didn't say so at the time, Seattle's artist community may have been another factor in Sosh's decision to hit the Emerald City before bigger towns like Los Angeles and Chicago. Particularly considering the timing of this week's announcement.
“At Sosh, part of our mission is to help artists be able to focus more on their craft and what they love, and worry less about marketing and reaching an audience,” said Laoiza.
That may be, but it doesn't hurt to remember who Sosh's real competitors are — namely alternative weeklies like The Stranger, whose bread-and-butter comes from ticketing and event sales. And yes, some would consider those people artists too.