Terry Wilcher, founder of 123 Tix

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Terry Wilcher and his 123 Tix on­line ticket book­ing ser­vice re­cently won “Re­gional Busi­ness of the Year” at the 2018 Western NSW Re­gional Busi­ness Awards, and will now go on to rep­re­sent the re­gion at the statewide NSW Busi­ness Cham­ber Awards in Sydney in Novem­ber.

How did 123 Tix start?

From an idea for a school mu­si­cal in 2014. My chil­dren go to Mac­quarie Angli­can Gram­mar School and they put on a school mu­si­cal for the first time. They asked for par­ents to con­trib­ute to the mu­si­cal and they needed some­one for tick­et­ing and putting a pro­gram to­gether. I thought it would be pretty cool to sell the tick­ets on­line, so I did a bit of re­search and found that there was no one who sold tick­ets re­gion­ally.

From there I had about four months to get it to work so that peo­ple could go on­line and pur­chase a ticket, then we could al­lo­cate a seat, but it was very man­ual. We had an A3 piece of paper with a floor plan of all the seats and as we sold a ticket we would al­lo­cate those peo­ple to a seat.

About eight weeks be­fore the event I thought that it would be cool to have a scan­ner to scan the tick­ets just like Tick­etek and Tick­et­mas­ter.

I had no idea how to do it, so I found some­one who was able to write the tech­nol­ogy and put it to­gether. The app it­self worked on the night, it was only ready that af­ter­noon, so it all fell into place.

What is your back­ground?

I’m a web de­vel­oper and I’ve built web­sites for the last 13 years, but I was a high school dropout. I left school in Year 10. I have no qual­i­fi­ca­tions and no mar­ket­ing skills – ev­ery­thing I’ve done has been self-taught.

I was also a stay-at-home dad who raised four kids while my wife (an ac­coun­tant) went back to work. My old­est is 14 and the youngest is seven. I’ve seen things that most men would miss out on. Be­fore that I was a pho­tog­ra­pher for many years in Sydney, so I’ve al­ways had that artis­tic flair.

When did the busi­ness re­ally kick off?

It didn’t start of­fi­cially un­til 2015. We ran some events and sourced some or­gan­is­ers. They tested the plat­form for us and got it all work­ing.

In the mean­time, I con­tacted NSW Can­cer Coun­cil be­cause they were run­ning the Danc­ing With the Stars events. I do­nated all the ser­vices and it went pretty smoothly. From that day on I thought “we’ve re­ally got some­thing here”, a unique niche that’s re­gion­ally based.

I put some pro­tec­tion in place, so now it’s all trade­marked and I own the NZ, UK and Amer­i­can do­mains, so if we want to go global we can.

In the early days it was a Ther­momix cook­ing class fest – they’re the only tick­ets we used to sell. Now we do mas­sive fes­ti­vals like the ABBA and Elvis fes­ti­vals, and the Dubbo Show.

The Dubbo Show this year broke the record for ticket sales on­line at 7000. Since we started we are head­ing to­wards a quar­ter of a mil­lion ticket sales and it’s grow­ing at about 180 per cent. We’re grow­ing faster than we can han­dle which is a re­ally good prob­lem to have.

You also help lo­cal char­i­ties?

We’ve do­nated so much to char­i­ties. Just the other night there was an event at the RSL Club and we sold the tick­ets for it and we raised $150,000 for that per­son.

We are spon­sor­ing the Dubbo Eisteddfod this year, so all ticket sales are com­ing through our sys­tem and all the money is go­ing back into the eisteddfod. We can give ac­cu­rate num­bers of who is at­tend­ing, it’s all about ac­count­abil­ity and data col­lec­tion.

Have you had any prob­lems with or­gan­is­ers?

We have had or­gan­is­ers sign up who are ac­tu­ally money laun­der­ers and we were lucky enough to catch one the other day. An or­gan­iser will sign up and the event will never take place, they have stolen credit cards and they feed the credit cards in hop­ing that we send the money to them. We have a mech­a­nism in place to catch them.

We caught one the other day – it took us three min­utes, we have all their de­tails and the author­i­ties are now onto that. The po­lice com­pli­mented us on how good it was that we were able to give them so much in­for­ma­tion about this per­son.

Best ad­vice to some­one start­ing a new busi­ness?

The mes­sage would be: don’t be scared to try some­thing if you’ve got an idea – then don’t let any­one say you can’t do it be­cause you can if you put your mind to what you want to do. What we’ve achieved hasn’t been handed to us – it’s been long hours, but I love get­ting up ev­ery morn­ing want­ing to come to work.

The more that we de­velop, the more I get ex­cited about do­ing it – it’s like a healthy drug. It’s got noth­ing to do with money and it never has been about the money. It’s about pro­duc­ing some­thing that gives en­joy­ment to other peo­ple.

- In­ter­view & photo by Wendy Mer­rick

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