We caught up with Ollie Fegan recently, one of the co-founders of the ground-breaking new cinema app, usheru. It not only endeavours to connect cinephiles with more films and events, but understand cinema goers’ personal tastes.
It does this with a blend of innovative technology and creative insight into the film industry and the many moving parts of distribution. Ollie talked us through the functionality of the app, its journey to completion and how it continues to evolve.
Let’s start off with the basics: Who is usheru for and what can they do with it?
“usheru is a way to tickets really simply in three clicks. We have our own app and website (linked below) for finding film times and buying cinema and film festival tickets, and we also power direct ticketing for film distributors like Universal. An example of this is where you can securely buy tickets to Fifty Shades Darker on fiftyshadestickets.ie and then just turn up at the participating cinemas with your eticket. Look out for the 'Powered by usheru' symbol. We will be doing more of these film websites in the next months and years for some great films. People can pick up their cinema tickets there in a really quick and simple way.”
IFTN: The app launched in April 2015 in London and has since gone live in Dublin. Can you talk us through the key stages of getting from concept to design and into users’ hands?
“We did a lot of hands-on work with users at the beginning and again more recently, meeting them for cinema nights etc, and we often get feedback and suggestions from users about what they'd like to see more of. Getting users to use your product is obviously key, and it grew organically at first and now we see specific initiatives we run driving higher levels of traffic to the app, website and to the cinema ticketing pages like fiftyshadestickets.ie. Collaboration with film industry partners has been a key part of our growth, and we are grateful to them for giving us a chance to work with them - so big thanks to the cinemas and film distributors.”
IFTN: We love the playful movie quotes scattered throughout the app and website. Exactly how much fun did you guys have putting those together?
“Well I would like to take the credit, but I really have our team to thank for that. Between Gill and a former employee Cormac's amazing film knowledge and their way with words (combined with the cool look our designer Pati brings to the product) it's been a collaborative process over time and a lot of banter onsite. We definitely decided early on that we wanted it to be fun and quirky and everyone just adopted that attitude from day one. We always said at the beginning that we have no-one to answer to right now, so let's not be confined to any rules!”
IFTN: You’ve mentioned you’re also working with clients such as Universal, the Happenings and others. Can you describe how you’re helping audiences connect with films and other events through these?
“Well we have started to see ourselves as a conduit between the providers of content in the industry and the consumers of it. From a consumer side, our big goal is to bring understanding to what audiences want and need, and when they need it. For a long time, the industry has taken a panacea approach to getting audiences by investing primarily in mass marketing to attract people to the box office. We see our role as the advocate for the audience, bringing their insights to the industry so that it's more targeted to them, their film tastes and their consumption patterns.
"Examples of this are where we work with Happenings to help them build loyalty summer-to-summer—it’s such a cool spontaneous experience they offer, so it's easy to connect with audiences. For Universal, we take big film titles, make the booking easy and see how those film-goers can be reached in the most efficient way. We are a conduit particularly because we see the industry pros really know their product, it's benefits and how to present it—we see ourselves as providing a new layer of insight and connectivity to audiences.”
IFTN: Most importantly how can we sign up to usheru?
“The easiest way is to visit our website and also to look out for the 'Powered by usheru' symbol on any film website you visit. This means you can buy tickets securely and safely, and then just show up at the box office with your phone!”
Visit usheru Online