Startup Q&A: Rafe Offer, Co-Founder, Sofar SongsLast Updated: May 1, 2020
Rafe Offer is one of three founders of Sofar Sounds, an unusual ‘secret gig’ organising startup that has the potential to revolutionise the live music industry. Rafe took some time out to answer our questions on the story of Sofar Sounds to date
Rafe Offer and his company organise invite-only secret gigs in intimate locations, where some of the best new music is performed by some of the best new artists, to a music-passionate audience.
As well as attracting interest from some of the most talented unsigned acts, Sofar Sounds has also received attention from an impressive line up of investors including Peter Read, Michael Acton Smith and Max Niederhofer.
“…the idea of music being performed in unusual, spontaneous places has slowly been eroded by established concert venues and protocols. You know the drill: go to a soulless hall, look into the distance while a band plays on a raised stage, and everyone stands around looking at their phones. The connection between artist and listener was being lost. This is where Sofar Sounds comes in.”
These investors have identified obvious potential in Sofar’s approach, and some commentators have predicted that it could revolutionise the music industry. Wherever Sofar’s journey will take them, it’s clear that it will be a voyage with no unnecessary and annoying distractions. The community has now expanded to more than 200 cities in 50 countries, and it’s only going to get larger.
AGENT was grateful, therefore, that Rafe Offer permitted the distraction of the AGENT Startup Hotseat where he settled recently to answer our questions about his startup story so far.
1. Very simply, what does your company do?
We put on secret gigs in people’s houses, around the world.
2. What was the ‘Eureka!’ moment?
I was at a bar in Soho in 2009 watching a band play, talking to two friends. I could hardly hear the music because of the bar (clanging), people talking over the music and texting. It was not ok. We looked at each other and thought ‘there must be a better way’ to appreciate music!
3. What were you doing before starting?
Most recently at that time, working for Diageo in Innovation and consulting in marketing.
4. How are you funded?
Self and Angels, a few VCs and Richard Branson / Virgin.
5. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting their own company?
• Go with something that solves a real problem.
• Ignore conventional advice. If it feels right, it is.
• Get an influential Angel investor on board, early on.
• If you are funded, don’t go too fast. Treat their money like your own.
6. What item would you never leave the house without?
My phone! Shame!