Case studies, fact sheets and interviews offering hints, tips, and inspiration to help your business grow. 

From 7 May 2024, the North East Growth Hub is a project of the North East Combined Authority. We may still refer to "the North East Local Enterprise Partnership" (or "the North East LEP") in some of our older articles. 

How a new music app connecting venues and fans is going from strength to strength after support from the North East Growth Hub

Three years ago, Matt Gray and Ben Kindlan created Gigco, an app which shows music fans all the live events happening near them. Now, with a core team of six people and plans to secure investment, Matt and Ben share their highs and lows, plus some of the business support that’s helped them along the way.  

First of all, can you describe how Gigco works in a nutshell?

Matt: We describe Gigco as a home for live music. Basically, if you want to know what’s happening in your area, you can open the app and see the venues near you and the events coming up. There’s a social aspect to it as well – you can connect with like-minded people who like similar music to you, and we’re currently working on bringing artists into the app as well, with artist profiles.

Ben: Even though we want the app to be global, we want it to always feel local to the user. If someone’s in Newcastle they can open the app, see what’s on and feel like they’re a part of the Newcastle scene. And if you jump on a train down to Brighton, you can open the app there are feel like you’re part of the Brighton scene.

Where did the idea come from?

Ben: I’m a drummer and the original idea for Gigco came when I was playing gigs and managing venues. I was having issues on both sides of the equation, both with securing bands for the venues and securing venues for my band. I wanted a way to connect artists and venues together.

Matt: When we started testing the idea, we found there was definitely an interest in it, but we also found that events weren’t getting seen by the public as well as they could be. The information was too disparate: some venues have websites and some don’t, some fans were using Facebook to look for listings and some were using Instagram. What if we aggregated all that data and put it in one place? So we started there.

When did you realise you needed to access some business support? And how did the support help you?

Matt: In 2022 we launched the first iteration of the app, followed by version two in 2023. We were at a stage where we knew we needed to get out in the world and look at what support options were available to us in the region, so we contacted the North East Growth Hub.

Ben: Through the Growth Hub, we were recommended Creative Fuse and their design thinking programme which helped us formalise some of our processes around customer needs and responding to how people were using the app. They were really good at helping us with this and also with marketing.

Matt: Creative Fuse helped us develop a marketing plan to get the product out to people, even though our marketing budget at the time was basically zero. Through the Growth Hub we also applied for the Ignite accelerator programme and that was really useful for learning about getting ready for raising finance, which is the stage we’re at now.

What have been the easiest and the hardest parts of your journey so far?

Matt: Sometimes the really hard things are the most basic, like getting people to take you seriously. You need a certain amount of resilience as you’ll come up against people who don’t return your calls or just completely ignore you. The easy bit is having the vision and the drive to make it happen. And even though it’s hard, I would do it again. I couldn’t imagine ever having a ‘normal’ job again.

Ben: Another difficult part is actually running the business itself, because we’re a small team and we’re spinning a lot of plates. But there have been some incredibly high highs as well. Just a few days ago a conversation happened in the app where a fan commented, suggesting a local artist as a support act for a gig. This resulted in the venue booking him. Bringing people together like that is what it’s all about.

What advice do you have for other people who want to start a business?

Matt: You don’t need to wait for validation from other people, you just need to believe in yourself. That self-belief can be enough to take that first step.

Ben: I’d say networking is essential. You might have a good product but you need to let people know about it. And take time to prioritise and focus. You’ll have great long list of things to do but you need to step back, take a look and figure out what needs doing today, what needs doing tomorrow and what’s longer term.


If you want to access business support like Matt and Ben did, get in touch with the North East Growth Hub team. You can also find more support for startups in our Startups Toolkit.