Local business wunderkind Joel Erb seems to be making a bit of a comeback. That may seem an odd word to use for a 26 year-old entrepreneur, but Erb started his first company at age 15. Now he is developing an iPhone “app” that lets concert goers order merchandise while at a concert – no need to visit the long lines or interact with moody merch-vender.
His web design firm quickly landed high-profile New York-based clients including Hugo Boss. Locally, clients have included Charles Luck and Comfort Zone Camp. INM United, Erb’s firm, has settled into doing mostly marketing and branding.
Erb recently created a new product that is making a splash in a trendy new business space – iPhone applications. iPhone apps caught corporate attention about a year ago, with everyone seemingly coming up with some cute little game or interactive program for customers to play on their iPhones.
“We knew that iPhone users were already massive consumers of music,” Erb said. “We started looking at possibilities to create an experience that leveraged mobile abilities.” The new wave of apps attempt to make a profit on iPhone game-playing by diverting some type of purchase through the app. And it’s the purchase process itself that Erb is exploring.
Just in time for summer concert season, SpotTrot helps musicians or bands connect with fans via iPhones. Dave Matthews Band and Tim McGraw were early clients. They had Erb customize the SpotTrot program, rename it for their band, then offer it on iTunes for free download. Once a fan puts the app on their iPhone, they can “interact” with DMB or McGraw by buying music or accessories, follow the touring schedule, and using GPS technology to identify and text with other fans at a concert.
Marketers report that a customer using a mobile device is far more likely to make an impulse purchase with that device than when directed to a web site or phone number. Erb leveraged that high mobile conversion rate with SpotTrot.
“We were the only app with the store built in,” Erb says. “Users don’t have to click out to a web browser, which is where most sales drop-off rates occur. We knew our biggest pull would be a fan acting on impulse at a concert, not wanting to wait or stand in line.”
Erb caught a break last week when Apple removed over 5000 apps from iTunes. Most were cut for sexual content, others for being too redundant. But the editing ensures that the remaining apps are better positioned to grab customer attention.
As touring season begins, Erb has also signed the band O.A.R. and says he is currently in negotiations for a 140-artist deal.