Word-of-Mouth Live Event Marketer Verve Raises $18.5 Million

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A general view of the atmosphere during The Weeknd's performance at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 11, 2017 in Manchester, Tenn.

Verve, a leading word-of-mouth live music marketing platform based in the U.K., has closed an $18.5 million Series B funding round led by Draper Esprit. Formerly known as StreetTeam, the startup enables brands to turn the expertise of everyday people into a scalable sales channel, offering existing customers incentives to help sell products -- so far mostly tied to ticketing -- to other fans.

The company said on Tuesday that over the last 12 months its client list has grown from 170 to 450, selling more than 500,000 tickets globally and securing partnerships with the likes of Live Nation, AEG, C3, Eventbrite, Bonnaroo, React Presents, Bestival, Digital Dreams and Electric Zoo, among others.

Co-founded by Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, Verve raised $10 million in series A financing a year ago, bringing its total to $28.5 million to date. Previous backers Frontline Ventures, Kindred and Backed VC joined Draper Esprit for the Series B round. The startup said the new funds will be used to continue its global expansion and move into other markets beyond live events.

Speaking with TechCrunch, Callum Negus-Fancey explained that it is far more effective and authentic for a friend to sell/promote an event ticket to you rather than other more traditional types of advertising. Verve's lead investor agreed.

"Callum & Liam have built a world-class team who we back with full confidence and we very much believe in where Verve is heading," said Simon Cook, CEO of Draper Esprit. "Today's audience is becoming immune to traditional advertising and increasingly prefer to discover through friends and people they trust. Verve has already proven word-of-mouth is a scalable and powerful tool for live entertainment, and we will support them in taking this channel to other markets and sectors."