Theater prices have been quite a shock over the past few years with many top 3-D movies now charging close to $20 per person. This is where Los Angeles-based Dealflicks enters the picture.
Co-founders Kevin Hong and Sean Wycliffe had been friends for about a decade before Wycliffe got the idea to create Dealflicks, a company focused on helping movie theaters get rid of excess tickets through discount availability on Dealflicks.com. (Think “Priceline for movie tickets.”)
Both co-founders had already seen discounts on movie pricing through the likes of Groupon and easy access through Fandango, but in looking deeply at the business models, they knew no one really had it right. They figured (rightly) that there could be an opportunity to create a new business model to put more money back into the hands of the theaters by filling empty seats.
What was an idea in 2011 became a beta platform in 2012 and a fully-launched business in July 2013, operating with an affiliate revenue-share partnership on each excess inventory ticket sold. About five months later, Hong and Wycliffe met Zach Cancio, who became CTO. The "Three Amigos" had made connections with several theaters and the business started to grow.
"After speaking with 100 theaters, we found out that 99 of them signed on after meeting us in person," Hong said, noting that cold-calling wouldn't do the trick to partner with theatres.
They started to explore cheap possibilities for meeting theatre teams in person, noting that flights and hotels were too expensive at such an early stage to be meeting with theaters full-time. One night, Hong had the crazy idea to sell his Acura, purchase his mom's Toyota Sienna van, rip out the seats in the back and throw down a big mattress before road-tripping across the country to meet with theaters. Hong said the sleeping arrangements were particularly tricky when parking uphill or on a slant, but that the rent was very cheap!
Calling these "Man Van" trips, Dealflicks started to put together van teams of two to tackle cities, road-tripping out to a major city together and splitting up so that one van would cover the North side and the other take the South.
Although the current branding is "Man Van," there is certainly a possibility of a "Woman Van" making an appearance later this year and they are hiring for these crusaders currently. (Amongst the top candidate requirements are "good hygiene" and "strong basic survival instinct.")
Now with 17 employees, two offices (San Francisco and Los Angeles), an app for Android/iOS and 270 nationwide movie theaters, Dealflicks is starting to catch a lot of speed. They have raised a little over a million in seed funding, but are looking to raise a Series A round later this year. Hong noted that for about the past five months they have seen 50 percent growth month-over-month. Their outlook for this year is to hit 50,000 ticket sales by March and 200,000 by the end of the year.