Interview with Gerzson Huszar, CEO of Mixgar
Gerzson, what is MixGar?
We solve a big problem in bars and other entertainment venues: how to choose the right music to play.
Mixgar is a social jukebox – it plays music most people like at a venue. Mixgar builds a music profile for every listener – it takes your music interest from your Facebook account and in the future it’ll also scan your mobile. Your music profile is then used to influence the music. You can also vote directly for songs on the playlist.
How do you vote?
It is easy: first you check in; for this you read a QR code or just type in mixgar.com. You’ll immediately see the playlist on the big screen can start voting.
In addition to this the system also makes recommendations based on your individual taste and also on the musical preferences of everybody present.
What’s interesting is that you can also see what song that hot girl at the next table voted for, you can share the youtube video of the songs on facebook. Lots of opportunities for interaction.
We debuted the beta in the summer with Nescafe at the Sziget festival; it was on the day Prince was playing, it was interesting to see how Prince dominated the playlist; the system passed the test.
We do need more interaction in bars, for sure! By the way: how did you come up with this idea?
It was at work. One guy with a … let’s just say peculiar musical taste kept on playing the same awful music in the office and we thought: this must stop; at the very least we can’t let him dominate the musical menu.
You guys have just returned from a tour getting some exposure and pitching to potential investors. How did that go?
For the past couple of month we’ve been on tour in Berlin, Vienna, Prague, finishing it off in Kiev, at hackforward, startup week, mini seedcamp and investor day, respectively.
It has been exhausting but we are happy. We finished winning the 1st price at the investor day in Kiev.
We met great people, learned a lot and managed to get some quality face time with top tier VCs. On the other hand it took us away from actually running the business, so we are now back with a 100% focus on executing our plan.
Before getting into your plans: what’s happening on the VC front? Are you on your way to home base, or you are just starting dating them?
We are just starting dating. The top tier players are not that easy, they want to see some proof of concept which in our case means that we can show what happens when we have a good coverage on one major city. Since we are based in Budapest, this is our first target. The good thing is that there is interest for the concept and we are in the range of what they typically invest.
Tough target market though. Wouldn’t it be faster to pick a city like New York where smart phone penetration is higher and where bars simply make more money?
We have considered this but eventually decided to stay focused on Budapest. Our developers are here for now and since we use the agile development methodology it enables us to make quick changes based on customer feedback. This is crucial at this stage.
What’s the future?
I see ourselves to be the leader in bars within 3 years.
How many bars are there in Europe?
In the EU There are 1.7M restaurants, hotels, bars, 17.500 franchise units in 35 chains.
This is our EU market. We are shooting for cooperation with brands which would make it easy for us to approach the market in a structured way. We are trying to persuade big alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage brands of our strength as a promotional vehicle; this way we can reach big chains across regions.
How does the business model work with the brands?
Let’s say a beer brand is sponsoring its partner pubs by buying mixgar for them. We can in turn provide the beer brand with valuable data on their audience: what kind of music they listen to and also some demographic data from the facebook profiles from example. They can use this for deciding whom to invite for festivals, etc. We can collect a lot of valuable data which can also be used for advertising, promotional campaigns and a lot of other things.
How is it with copyrights issues?
We have covered the legal issues, including copy rights. Contracts with the label and artist association are valid for 30 countries. This applies to German speaking countries, the UK and others like Canada and Thailand for example.
Do you really need VC money? Who is financing the business now?
Basically I am the angel investor. VC money is important if we want to scale. We can also grow through partners. We definitely welcome partners for example from the USA who can help us with contracts with labels and also with distribution.
You have come a long way since the summer. Good luck to you with conquering the entertainment scene in Budapest and the fundraising process. We’ll be following you and check in with you again in a few months!
More info on Mixgar: www.mixgar.com
The Mixgar team is lead by Gerzson Huszár, Mixgar CEO and Co-Founder. Gerzson spent 10 years in the industry, the last 7 years at LogMeIn (Director of Development). He joined LogMeIn in the early startup days and left two years after it went public on Nasdaq (Nasdaq:LOGM). Previously has held various roles at kirowski (Isobar group) a digital agency and Uproar an online gaming startup.