Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Event Queue is raising $3M to make large-scale events run more smoothly

Event Queue is raising $3M to make large-scale events run more smoothly

Emerson Dameron
File 42732
Trained as an engineer, Lou Vasta said he was “thrown into the fire” of large-scale event planning as the Chicago transportation director of the 1994 World Cup. He adapted quickly, taking on clients such as the NBA and the World Soccer Federation before heading to Austin a little over a year ago to work on Formula One.

That's where the idea crystalized for an SaaS business that consolidates all the logistical heavy-lifting that goes into organizing a big public spectacle.

File 42733Enter Event Queue, which Vasta said is designed to “handle all the hard parts of big events – transportation, private security... If it goes well, you don't get noticed. If it goes badly, you're the talk of the town.”

Since Vasta does not have a technical background, he followed the same path as other non-technical Chicago founders and recruited not a CTO, but a technical co-founder, Terry Ryan, whose own tech business was acquired by HP in 2006. “I never thought I'd have anything in common with a computer science guy,” Vasta said, but the partnership quickly picked up steam.

"The technology exists,” said Vasta. “There are ways to get people in and out of events. You can make the event more efficient, create new revenue streams, and create natural evacuation plans. If a Boston Marathon event happens, you can get them into safe spaces. Evacuation plans for large event spaces are a joke.”

Rather than relying on an array of directional apps, Event Queue will provide a single service that will get users in and out of Bears games, downtown parades, and an array of other massive gatherings. Meanwhile, organizers and local merchants will be able to offer discounts and incentives, funneling the entire day's experience into the hands of people who know what they're doing.

"We've got enough money now that we're going to have a full-time staff after the holidays,” Vasta said. “We still need more money.” To that end, Event Queue is currently engaged in a seed round that Vasta hopes will bring in $3 million. Meanwhile, he's getting advice from former mayor Richard M. Daley, whom he met as a consultant, and 1871 leader Howard Tullman.

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