Toronto-based event planning and discovery startup Uniiverse is dropping an “i,” rebranding itself Universe as it expands its physical presence in the United Sates, through a new office in San Francisco.
“We just wanted something that was more recognizable and easier to find,” says Ben Raffi, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We believe it’s going to be better for us.”
Even though the name change is relatively straightforward, there are still some hiccups – a Google search for “Uniiverse” places the company at the top of the first page, while a search for “Universe” returns almost three who pages of results about the actual universe before showing the startup.
“There’s going to be a little transition period,” says Raffi. “We expect that to change very fast.”
As part of the transition old links to Uniiverse’s site will redirect to the new Universe site.
The rebranding comes in conjunction with a push into the U.S. market.
“We’ve been goring in the U.S.,” Raffi says. “As of last month, we’ve had more sales in the U.S.” than in Canada, he says.
The company, which saw sales grow 700 per cent during 2014, says 55 per cent of its sales now come from the U.S. In an effort to cement that, Universe has now opened an office in the San Francisco.
Raffi will head-up that office, along with two employees who moved him from Toronto. He’s also made local hires, bring the company’s head-count in San Francisco to eight. He says the move will put the company closer to potential partners and help it access capital and talent.
Universe is planning on raising an investment round and Raffi says he expects the company’s physical presence in San Francisco to make that easier.
The startup’s product acts as an end-to-end ticketing and event planning system for people organizing events while it also has social networking elements to help users discover events close to them.
“We saw some emerging trends and untapped needs in the event industry and wanted to build an end-to-end platform for event organizers,” Raffi says. “Most event organizers want to sell more tickets, so we help them leverage social data to target the right audience and turn every attendee into an advocate or promoter of the event. We’ve seen our customers enjoy a 28 per cent boost in ticket sales”
Raffi says its been used in 400 cities but 98 per cent of those have been located in North America. His next goal is to push into Europe and Australia.