“Y’all going to this?”
There’s nothing like getting that message in the group chat, followed by a URL link to an event that’s sure to create lifelong memories.
There’s a certain kind of magic in the air when you’re at a Black event.
Femi Masha and Jeff Osuji have always been aware of this. The Chicago-based friends were both undergrad chemistry majors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign when they decided to launch their own event curation company, Events By Pyramid in 2005 for the Black students on campus looking to connect to their culture all while having a great time. After a string of successful events in their home state for more than a decade, they expanded their footprint worldwide with event experiences in Africa and Europe. The model was simple: great music, cool venues, top-shelf spirits, and an invitation that’s easily shareable via mobile and social media. This worked because Osuji and Masha had worked for years to cultivate a stellar reputation as event curators, building a cult following that shared their events through word of mouth.
But, it was after Osuji realized how much the ticketing platform they were using, Eventbrite, was charging, did he see they needed to shift their process.
“We were paying fees to this platform that only provided ticketing services, but did nothing for us promotionally,” Osuji shared. “It was all about our community telling their people about our events that got crowds in the door.”
Eventbrite, one of the leading ticketing companies offers tiered packages, with the cheapest charging between 2% + $0.79 per sold ticket, then an additional 2.5% processing per order. Osuji and Masha decided in 2018 it was time to create a platform of their own that not only understood the event curation needs of Black culture, but didn’t take advantage of them like other mainstream ticketing firms.
“Launching the platform was really important because Black consumers spend around $31 billion in events annually,” Osuji said. “It’s time that we get ownership in that space.”
The founders enjoyed a high with the platform in 2020, leading Black event ticketing for the NBA All-Star Game weekend experiences, which was hosted in Chicago in February of that year. Unfortunately, the company took a huge hit when weeks later, the pandemic essentially upended the events industry. The shelter-in-place mandates forced the company to gain an even deeper understanding of what their consumer wanted, and meet them where they were. That’s what prompted them to cultivate a platform that genuinely and effectively engages with BIPOC.
The founders pointed out that the Black community finds their social events differently than other groups. As opposed to their white counterparts who can easily search on Yelp or Eventbrite’s explore pages, Black party-goers depend on one another for information.
“What differentiates Eventnoire from everything else out there is we really prioritize the consumer,” said Masha. “We designed our platform to promote events that truly fit our interests.”
More importantly, for Black event organizers, Eventnoire acts as a safe space that doesn’t aim to deepcut their profit. Unlike most of their mainstream competitors, the company offers revenue share on processing fees. They also boast faster payouts, which is key since other ticketing firms hold earnings for several days.
“We just want our people to win.”