Have you ever put time aside to buy tickets to a concert or event, only to miss out due to excessive demand? Saïd Business School, University of Oxford alumnus Adam McIsaac has developed Robin, a technology platform that could spare experience seekers from this common frustration. It works by learning the users’ preferences for entertainment events, and then reserving suitable tickets on their behalf, which they can choose to either purchase or decline.
McIsaac enrolled at Saïd Business School in 2011 with the ambition of moving from the traditional entertainment industry to the technology space, and he describes his Oxford MBA as being ‘instrumental’ in achieving this goal.
‘I worked in entertainment for a number of years, including time spent as an agent to performers,’ he said. ‘What I realised is that there is a real mismatch between supply and demand. For example, when Adele announces a tour the demand greatly outstrips the supply. However, for upcoming acts or small-scale events, this pattern reverses. This inefficiency creates problems for consumers, because there is an arbitrage opportunity for touts and bots to scoop up inventory and remarket it at an inflated price.’
McIsaac describes the entertainment industry as being resistant to progress. ‘Up until now, it’s been operating the same way it has been since the seventies. Robin injects technology into the decision making processes, and this doesn’t just benefit consumers, it benefits the companies to, as it can pass on information to help them really understand what their customers want,’ he said.
With a successful beta launch already underway, the platform now has users in most markets in North America. ‘Our target market is what we call “on-demand junkies,” which means they’re using products and services to make their lives easier. They are generally young professionals who have disposable income but not much free time, so they want to make the most of it,’ explained McIsaac.
During his time at Oxford, McIsaac found that the more he put into his MBA, the more he got out of it: ‘I joined the Oxford Entrepreneurs, participated in an appathon competition, and attended Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford (now known as the Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum). I heard from some of the most amazing speakers, including Reed Hoffman. I also took a few of the entrepreneurship classes over the course of the MBA that were very impactful to me, particularly Marc Ventresca’s strategy and innovation class, which opened my eyes to the power of technology.’
When it comes to advice for MBAs with entrepreneurial ambitions, McIsaac has two essential lessons: ‘Firstly, don’t worry about being perfect – it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you keep moving forward. Momentum is the most important thing to have on your side. And secondly, start building your network of advisers and mentors within the alumni network straight away, because no matter what your business problem, you can find someone who has faced it before.’
McIsaac and the Robin team have their sights set on expansion to the UK and beyond, and they are now conducting their first official fundraising campaign.