mom interview: elizabeth durand streisand of broadway roulette
I am lucky to know a lot of boss ladies who also happen to be world-class moms. And you should know them, too! My hope is to interview lots of these inspiring women who are kicking ass in many spheres. First up is Elizabeth Durand Streisand, who I have known since we were both itty-bitty nightlife reporters sharing space on the same red carpet (or, you know, stalking the same celebrities). She has since created Broadway Roulette, one of the best things to happen to Broadway since Hamilton [I was really trying to think of something wittier there, but I just love Hamilton so much]. Read on to learn about the company, her advice to others starting their own businesses, and how she makes it all happen in just 24 hours.
How did you come up with the idea for Broadway Roulette?
My husband and I were a little late on the baby train, which meant we had an empty guest room in our NYC apartment, which meant we had guests. Lots of guests. When friends came from out of town, they’d arrive with a tourist “to-do” list and one thing that was on all of those was “see a Broadway show.” But when they found out it would be hundreds of dollars (or impossible) to see the one or two shows they’d heard of, they’d often just opt out entirely – but one day, a former sorority sister asked me to get a ticket to “any musical that wasn’t Phantom” (because she’d already seen it) that was under $100.” A light went on and Broadway Roulette was born.
How does it work exactly? And since every show is included in the roulette, how are you able to get tix from such hot shows like Hamilton?!
The short answer is that we work directly with Broadway to get access to discounted seats that consumers cannot get on their own. The longer answer is that our sales channel has some points of differentiation from traditional discounters that makes it attractive to show partners. Specifically, those are:
1) We don't cannibalize other ticket sales (which is a fancy way of saying we aren't taking a ticket that could have been sold for $100 and selling it for $49). This is because anyone who has been convinced to see a specific show doesn't buy a ticket through our service since they aren't guaranteed any specific show. By nature, we fill seats to a show with consumers who would not have been there otherwise.
2) Our customer base tends to be younger, more NYC-based, and more active on social media than the traditional Broadway crowd.
3) Because we include every show in the Roulette, consumers don't automatically assume a show is "in trouble" or "bad" because it's on our platform (vs. say Groupon).
Including sold-out shows is an important part of our value-offering to consumers, and we get them through a variety of channels (though rarely at a discount). These are supplemented when necessary in order to keep them in the Roulette.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
Honestly, I don't. I spend more time working than with my son, and I've had to make peace with that (for now). I have help with childcare from people I love like family, which definitely eases the sting. I do carve out a few pockets of time each week (usually Friday nights and Sunday mornings) that are exclusively to spend with Benjamin. During those times, my phone is on silent and my laptop is in my closet. Turned off. Buried under a pile of shoes. I've adapted a "quality not quantity" mantra and hope that I'm setting a good example of loving what you do.
What was the hardest part about starting your own business?
Doing things I didn't know how to do, every single day. When you launch a company, some skills from previous work experience will pave the way for some responsibilities, but there will be loads of new tasks popping up all the time that you've never had to tackle before. To keep things moving forward, you have to just give it your best attempt and then monitor results like crazy to improve the next time.
What's your advice for other moms/moms-to-be who want to go out on their own to start their own venture?
Get your support system in place before you launch. Recruit every friend, parent, sibling, spouse, potential spouse, ex-boyfriend (seriously, anyone!) who could act as cheerleaders, sounding boards, or advisors down the road. Tell them what you're going to do. Tell them you're going to call them crying at some point. Also tell them you're going to take them out for champagne at some point. Then call them to cry and call them to have champagne. Don't go it alone.
What do you think the future holds for the business?
Expansion into other verticals including off-Broadway theater and date nights. We want to plan your night out, so you don't have to -- dinner before the show, a drink after -- your entire evening in a one-page checkout. The idea is to to make it fun and easy to get away from your "go to" spots so you can discover new favorites without all of the pressure and planning usually involved.
What's your favorite show on Broadway?
I just saw a final rehearsal of Gettin' the Band Back Together, which just started previews, and was totally blown away. It's just such a fun show with such a great message. My all-time favorite show, however, is Legally Blonde. I own several (beloved!) shot glasses with the logo halfway rubbed off.