The Lyte Truck Tour Kickoff: lessons for your launch party

In Williamsburg, online ticket reseller Lyte held a kickoff party for its tour of live events that challenge how performance happens. It drew a crowd there for a good time, whether or not they knew the work Lyte was doing.

A balloon in the hangout space of Friday night's Lyte/Road Soda party at Villain in Williamsburg.

(Photo by Brady Dale)

Updated Fri. May 23, 2014: The title and text of an earlier version of this story characterized this event as a launch party for Lyte, the company, rather than a kickoff for its event tour. The language has been changed throughout to reflect this.

Kickoff parties can go a lot of different ways with a lot of different outcomes. Here’s a case in point. Event ticket reseller Lyte teamed up with another Brooklyn brand Road Soda, which has a high-end cocktail bar on wheels, complete with lounge, held the kickoff for the Lyte truck tour at the Williamsburg event space of creative agency Villain. Lyte is exploring what role they’ll play on the spectrum of events production and ticketing, and they had a big crowd last week to test on.

Lyte‘s founder, Ant Taylor, who has been part of other tech ventures before, said that 1,300 people registered for the night. We were there talking to party-goers all night, and though there were clear supporters of Lyte in attendance, Taylor said the real focus was on the street artists there performing in “the lineage of the original venue, the street.”

It’s a good place to be for a company like Lyte though. The company’s mission is to give ticker purchasers a better way to sell them when they can’t go to the event. Within 30 minutes of registering an event ticket you won’t be using, you’ll hear back from the Lyte team about whether or not they want the ticket. If they do, you’ll get offered a price and paid right away.

The team commits to never paying more than the face value and never selling above it. Their profit comes from a fee (up to 15 percent) that they add on the buyer’s side. The reason they make that commitment, according to Lyte marketing material, is because they want to connect true fan to true fan.

The reason they are able to do it so fast is because they don’t wait for a buyer to give the seller money — that’s also how they differentiate from a StubHub or even fellow New York startup SeatGeek. In an email to Technically Brooklyn, Taylor explained: “We have spent the last three months developing and refining a pricing algorithm that incorporates machine learning to predict fair prices in seconds.”


The Lyte fan network isn’t public yet, so Brooklyn hasn’t yet played with the platform, but Taylor says their pricing algorithm is the magic. Some 99 percent of tickets Lyte buys do get re-sold, boasts Taylor. The challenge will be to keeping that accuracy as the team adds users.

Why the need? Selling tickets is either complicated, shady or expensive at this point, Taylor said.

“We live in the post crowdfunding world. It should be far simpler,” Taylor told us the night of the party.

Take a quick tour of the event with these photos:

[slideshow_deploy id=’16754′] staff have been to our fair share of launch parties. So we know that  whenever a big enough crowd comes out — and Lyte most surely had a crowd — many people there will be there more for a cheap night out, rather than interest in the organizing group or mission.

Judging by why most of the attendees we spoke to came out, the focus was on a good party — of more than a dozen people we met, just one person on the floor of the event had heard of Lyte. This reporter ended up doing a fair amount of unexpected Lyte evangelizing by way of explanation.

So was this a promotional event or was it some kind of experiment in a new vertical for the company? Given that Lyte is heading out on an extended tour, there could be value in events for events sake, but it’s an interesting lesson for other companies to think about when launching.

Here’s some party goers we talked to:

The Lyte Truck Tour KickoffJoseph Bardales, cocktail expert, and regular at the secret shindgs at Villain. His friends call him “Party.” Bardales told us, “I’ve come to Villain a lot — mostly for their Vice open bar events. I like the experience.” He found the party on Twitter.
The Lyte Truck Tour KickoffIsabella Lebovitz and Nick von Zumwalt turned out to be ideal use cases for Lyte. Zumwalt told us that he goes to at least two concerts per week and often buys tickets for more events than he can get to. We asked if he’s ever tried to sell one online and he told us he was waiting to sell one at that very moment, as we stood there. Once we explained the basic idea to the pair, Zumwalt said, “It would be nice not to have to pay a premium.” Lebovitz added, “As a last minute tool, I think it’s amazing.”

Both seemed skeptical that, given the chance, concert goers wouldn’t still want to get a premium if there were time to do so.
The Lyte Truck Tour KickoffDisclosure: we went to the party with a friend and these two were friends of the friend. Manhattanites Gretchen Guo and Ashley Puscas mostly wanted to talk about the event itself.  It was a live event to change the way people interact with live events. Puscas wanted to see a show with multiple stages where each band did one song and then turned it over to the next stage, in a sort of round. Guo liked the variety.

Not only were there two stages, but there was also a guy painting a mural in another room — that was graffiti artist Cern ONE, as Lyte’s Taylor said in a followup email.
The Lyte Truck Tour KickoffMike Gank of Sunnyside, Queens, came out because he keeps an eye on free concerts in the city and it showed up on one of the websites that tracked them. When asked why he was there he said, “Free event, free drinks.”

Gank said he hasn’t had many events he bought tickets for that he couldn’t make it to.
Lyte Truck Tour Kickoff

Jessica Olah and Alexis Volpe came out to the party because Boerum Hill’s Olah knows the founder and is excited about what he’s doing. Olah says she has recommended Lyte to all of her friends, because, she said, “I’ve tried selling things on Craigslist before. It’s really hard.”

This wasn’t Lyte’s first public event in Williamsburg. When Arcade Fire sprung a secret party on the borough, Lyte kicked off a party outside as fans waited to get in. This was almost certainly the same secret concert we mentioned recently when we wrote about the band’s tour video.

This also won’t be Lyte‘s last public event either. This was a kickoff party for their tour aimed at challenging how live events take place. There will be more events around NYC soon and then even more across the country. All with this same open, festival vibe. Details are coming soon. We can tell you that in New York there will at least be events in Bushwick and Coney Island, among others.

Follow the company on Facebook to find out about more parties.

Once they are done with NYC they will take the show on the road in much the same spirit, but Taylor didn’t want to go into more detail than that.

“We also see an opportunity to challenge existing models of ticketing and event production as part of the tour,” Taylor told us via email. “As a facet of our business, right now we are very much in R&D.  We have more questions than answers.  Everyone agrees with us — artists, venues/promoters and fans — something is broken in live events.”

Here’s some video from the aforementioned street party:

People: Ant Taylor
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