After years of covering the entertainment industry as a reporter, Elizabeth Durand Streisand decided to jump into the mix.
Streisand started the online platform Broadway Roulette in 2016 to help theatregoers battle what she called “decision fatigue.” By turning expiring ticket inventory into a surprise cultural experience, she hoped to change the decision-making process into something much simpler.
The startup recently raised close to $2 million of seed money to help expand the company. Broadway Roulette is also part of Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, which focuses on startups led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs.
Streisand lives on the Upper West Side with her husband, 2-year-old son and 11-year-old maltipoo. Via email, she discussed with amNewYork the challenges of starting a new business and how she plans to expand.
You started out as an entertainment journalist — what made you change careers and create Broadway Roulette?
I hosted many guests over the years in New York City and “see a Broadway show” was on everyone’s to-do list, but once they realized how difficult and expensive it would be to get tickets to one of the few they had heard of, most people ended up skipping this experience entirely. One day, a friend asked me to get her a ticket to “anything that wasn’t ‘Phantom’ [because she had seen it], that was under $100” and it was one of those light bulb moments. I loved being a journalist and changing careers in my 30s at the same time I had a baby wasn’t an easy decision, but I knew that in 20 years I would regret it more if I hadn’t tried.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you started your own business?
Balancing becoming a first-time mother with managing a fast-growing startup was definitely a challenge. Too much guilt and not enough sleep are not a great combination. Fortunately, I had both Randi Zuckerberg [of Zuckerberg Media] and Jesse Draper [of Halogen Ventures] to help me learn to prioritize free from guilt . . . or mostly free.
How does Broadway Roulette work and why should someone try it?
Broadway Roulette is the fun and easy way to see a Broadway show (or many!) all for a low, flat price. The twist? The show is a surprise! You pick a date, number of tickets, and eliminate up to six shows that you’ve already seen or don’t want to see — then we “spin the wheel” and match you with a show that fits, all at flat rates that are below the list price of the tickets. On the morning of your selected day, you receive a text and email telling you what show you’ve won and all necessary details. Our customers get a great deal without the pain points (lines, lotteries, hunting for discounts) usually involved — but more than that, they really enjoy the element of surprise. Yes, we provide a discount, but more than that, we provide the chance to discover something new — both on stage and potentially about the world or even yourself. Also, you can play again and again because we never send you to the same show twice.
What did you learn since starting Broadway Roulette that you could share with other entrepreneurs?
Listen more than you talk. What other people say (and don’t) is the most valuable input you will get when building a new way of doing things. It’s tempting to tell potential clients/partners everything you can in the time you have about how you’re going to revolutionize your industry, but it’s more beneficial to hear what they have to say.
How do you see this business expanding and what are some plans for the future?
We are soon to launch “Beyond Broadway,” a curated Roulette of top quality shows all around the city. It’s a great way to discover the next "Hamilton" before it’s "Hamilton," see world-famous shows that aren’t in the Theater District, and experience performances that are better suited to more intimate spaces.
It will work in a similar way to Broadway Roulette, but with more specific show groupings such as “parents coming to town” or “recovering from a breakup.”