Getting Past the Velvet Rope With Jump Rope

Jump Rope is trying to give people a new way to get priority access to nightclubs and bars with their new front-of-the-line app. It allows people to purchase priority access, or what they call “jumps,” to venues and events using an iPhone and Android app. Jumps start at $20-$30, and can cost over $100 for premiere clubs. The company currently has seven venues on board in Chicago, and they’re planning to expand to Las Vegas, Miami and NYC in the next few months. They are also in the process of closing a seed round of funding.

The app was founded by Pete Braxton and built in conjunction with Ora Interactive, a mobile development agency that’s branching out into incubating early-stage companies. Ora Interactive partner Dan Parsons said the app could be used for any event or venue, but they decided to focus on the nightlife scene first. “Any time you’re at a place where there’s a build-up of demand, whether it’s a line or there’s some sort of premium product, we wanted to offer users the ability to purchase access,” Parsons said in an interview. “We saw nightclubs being the low-hanging fruit.” He said they’re trying to bring some legitimacy to the idea of paying off a bouncer to get access to a popular club, while also providing the feeling of getting an exclusive experience. “We give them the ability to rent ‘cool’ for a period of time if they want to.”

Merchants can sign up on the website, and once approved they’re granted access to the merchant portal, and it’s up to the merchant to add details and push their venue live. Jump Rope requires merchants to add venue data like pictures, a description, dress codes, and any other pertinent details. The venue then sets info on the baseline price for jumping the line, specifies what days jumps will be available, the start and end time, and the number of jumps they’ll offer. Venues set a baseline price for jumping the line, and the app uses an algorithm that calculates market-driven pricing. As purchases are made for the club, the prices go up, which Parsons said help venues capture that revenue at a market price. “It’s kind of like the stock market,” Parsons said. “The hotter the club is the more money they’re going to make.”

The app is free for users, who can view venues by selecting their city, or by proximity based on their location. The app lists venues that are available that night for a jump, and users can view how far they are away from a specific venue on the map, and select a venue to see additional details. Once a user selects a venue they can choose to bring up to three friends (each additional user also has to pay the jump fee), and can pay via credit card, the only payment option currently supported. After the purchase is confirmed, users are given an authentication screen, which is what the bouncer uses to make sure the jump is the right date, for the right number of people, and that each of the guests are of age. Users can also purchase jumps up to six days in advance. There is the possibility of over-paying for access though – since users can’t see what the lineup is like at a club when they purchase a jump, they could end up paying for access to a venue that isn’t even busy. Parsons said and market price will “clue the user in to what the demand is like.”

All transactions are recorded for the venues, and if a company owns multiple properties they can view transactions by location. Parsons said Jump Rope takes a cut of each transaction, which is variable based on the cost of the jump, but he wouldn’t specify the range. The company is also considering offering add-ons like bottle service to provide venues with an additional revenue stream, and will offer venues the ability to pay to promote their venue within the app.

With an abundance of city guides and local deal apps to compete with, Jump Rope is trying to do one thing rather than being a generic nightlife resource. Parons also said they’re also trying to set themselves apart from venues that offer access to their guestlists or event tickets online. “Besides the real-time aspect, which I think is very unique and is a big value-add for an application, I think we are not just a nightlife app. We’re not here just to get people in the door at clubs. The bigger idea behind this is that we’re here to capture users who want to buy a premium service and want to buy that in real-time.” Though Jump Rope is a good way for venues to attract new customers, by its very nature the app is connecting people with venues that are already popular and in demand. Demonstrating an ability to help merchants to promote their venues to get people in the door will be a key feature that will make Jump Rope more useful to business owners.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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