We’re excited to share that Splash, the event planning platform that took SXSW 2013 by storm, is now using Braintree to power its payments. After headaches with other systems, we sat down with Co-founder and CEO Ben Hindman to learn more about what drove the move and how they’re pushing boundaries for event planners everywhere.
Tell us a bit about Splash and how it got started.
As the Director of Events at Thrillist, I was growing tired of the event management tools available to me and wanted a more sophisticated, brand-friendly platform that I could use to handle online invitations and RSVPs. Event websites don’t have to look like a template, as most event planning platforms unfortunately do. I partnered with Brett Boskoff (Splash’s CTO) and we set out to build a platform ourselves. Now, with 1.5 million RSVPs logged in the past year, more than $2 million processed in online ticket sales and 35,000 registered users, Splash has become the simplest way event planners can create, manage and share events. We’ve developed the product in such a way that event pages can be created quickly where you just plug in a photo and add the: who, what, when, where and why details. While it’s super easy, the finished product is a polished and professional site that is unique to your brand.
How are you changing the way people host and plan events?
First, we’re reminding people that events are an important, if not the most important, part of their marketing campaigns. You have the undivided attention of say, 300 – 400 people – we’re helping ensure you maximize your impact with them. Second, we’re changing the definition of an event by expanding its lifespan. An event no longer has to end when the lights go out and the bar closes down. We make it possible for the event to last forever by transitioning it into a beautiful social gallery of images and providing tools for people to interact online. Finally, we provide ROI. We have a CRM tool for the community that captures all the event data, so year-after-year you can easily reach the same influencers—in addition to new ones.
What specific payment challenges did you face before moving to Braintree?
The ticket buying/selling part of our platform is essentially a marketplace. We’re very protective of it, as our clients are trusting us to ensure their attendees can easily sign up and pay for events without a hitch. With our previous payment provider, as soon as our business took off we were told we needed to make changes to open up the marketplace and let buyers and sellers connect themselves. We had a lot of issues with this, as it meant we were relinquishing a lot of the control over the integrity of the events for all parties involved. For example, how do you deal with fraudulent events? How do you refund money once it’s already been paid out? We wanted to remain the guardian of this exchange. This is one key reason for our move to Braintree; they enable us to hold the funds in escrow until the event is complete so we can verify the event and avoid fraudulent activity. Other payment companies didn’t offer this solution. From the beginning, Braintree made an effort to understand our payment needs and worked with us to ensure the transition didn’t disrupt our business.
As far as the biggest problem we faced, it was the payout process. With events, there is a myriad of people involved so paying out becomes very complicated. Anyone can pull in money, but it’s the ability to payout that made us choose Braintree. Braintree gives us options--letting us payout through ACH and Venmo.
Splash is known for its design-centric events pages. How does the Braintree system play into your design esthetic?
It doesn’t, which is the best part. Braintree’s API is a game changer because it allows me to keep my brand integrity and offer “white label” sites to our clients that are completely their own brand. Our previous payment platform wanted its brand plastered all over every event page. It’s hard enough building your own brand, so the ability to white label the payment portion is huge.
How has your experience changed since working with Braintree?
I used to have to pay an accountant $600 a month to cut checks. With the ability to do it via ACH, we’re saving $7,200 a year – plus the entire payments process is so much easier. I can also use Venmo to pay individual event planners, and by working with Braintree we can ensure that payments will be received within one business day.
How do you expect Braintree to help your business grow?
We’re excited to be working with Braintree because while we’ve seen a lot of growth in the U.S., Braintree will be able to help us expand our business internationally. We’re also doubling down on mobile with the addition of mobile web to our iOS app and foresee a lot more purchasing happening there now that we’re working with Braintree.
What’s your favorite part of Braintree?
I love that Braintree is a true partner. They got on the phone with me to discuss options and came up with a solution that worked just for Splash and let us keep our brand integrity – they saved us.