Weekend Herald

Ticket to rise

Cloud-based startup Ticket Fairy has work cut out tak­ing on global gi­ant Tick­etek, writes Chris Keall

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Atick­et­ing startup that hopes to of­fer an al­ter­na­tive to the high­charg­ing in­cum­bents has launched its new cloud-based ser­vice this week — and is just clos­ing an over-sub­scribed US$2.5 mil­lion ($3.6m) Series A fund­ing round.

Back­ers in­cluded Kiwi en­trepreneur AJ Berten­shaw, the founder of DJ and mu­sic pro­duc­tion com­pany Ser­ato, who has also come on­board as an ad­viser as the startup tar­gets con­fer­ences, sports events, con­certs and fes­ti­vals in the US, Aus­tralia, the UK, In­dia and NZ.

The Auck­lan­der was joined by some­thing of a stel­lar cast of co-in­vestors, in­clud­ing Y Com­bi­na­tor, the famed Sil­i­con Val­ley in­cu­ba­tor that helped spawn the likes of Airbnb, Drop­box, Red­dit and Twitch); YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, Twitch CEO Em­mett Shear, Red­dit boss Steve Huff­man, and Bev­erly Hills-based en­ter­tain­ment lawyer Ken Hertz, whose clients in­clude Will Smith, will.i.am, Gwen Ste­fani and Ce­line Dion.

It’s a high-pow­ered crew, but the task in front of them is huge: dis­rupt­ing Tick­et­mas­ter, the tick­et­ing gi­ant that dom­i­nates in much of the world, par­tic­u­larly af­ter it merged with its main ri­val Live Na­tion ear­lier this decade. Cus­tomers of­ten com­plain that Tick­et­mas­ter, and big Aus­tralasian player

Tick­etek, us their dom­i­nance to in­flate fees.

The in­vi­ta­tion-only phase of the plat­form has sold more than 850,000 tick­ets to the gen­eral pub­lic, gross­ing $100m, in­clud­ing a num­ber of New Zealand fes­ti­vals: Bay Dreams, One Love and North­ern Bass).

For a sin­gle $89.90 stand­ing area ticket to Jimmy Barnes’ up­com­ing Auck­land con­cert, Tick­et­mas­ter is charg­ing a “pro­cess­ing fee” of $8 plus a “ticket fee” (in­clud­ing pay­ment pro­cess­ing and a venue levy) of $4.82. For a sin­gle $151.75 to Michael Bu­ble’s up­com­ing Mis­sion Es­tate Win­ery con­cert, Tick­etek is charg­ing a pay­ment pro­cess­ing fee of 2.55 per cent (in­clud­ing for debit cards) and a com­bined ser­vice and de­liv­ery fee of be­tween $5.25 and $13.00 de­pend­ing on the ticket de­liv­ery method.

Con­sumer NZ says con­cert­go­ers could ben­e­fit from new player.

“Fees charged by the big ticket agents have been a reg­u­lar cause of com­plaint,” the watch­dog’s re­search head Jes­sica Will­son says.

“The con­cen­trated na­ture of our mar­ket means there’s of­ten no choice about where you can buy tick­ets for an event. That means there’s lit­tle com­pet­i­tive pres­sure on ticket agents’ fees and con­sumers can end up pay­ing more than they oth­er­wise would.”

Ritesh Pa­tel, who co-founded Ticket Fairy with his brother Ji­gar, says his com­pany still has to add sup­port for al­lo­cated seat­ing — the key fea­ture miss­ing if it’s to take on Tick­et­mas­ter. But he says it’s close. In the mean­time, Ticket Fairy is cater­ing for gen­eral ad­mis­sion events, from a 100-per­son pow-wow to an event de­signed to at­tract more than 50,000 pun­ters.

Here, Ticket Fairy comes up against Eventbrite, a pop­u­lar cloud-based ser­vice that’s al­ready well es­tab­lished.

Pa­tel says their pric­ing is com­pa­ra­ble. Eventbrite charges US$1.59 + 3.5 per cent per ticket. But the Ticket Fairy co-founder says Ticket Fairy has a much fuller suite of event-or­gan­is­ing fea­tures than Eventbrite, and has the edge on Eventbrite, cov­er­ing every el­e­ment from tick­et­ing to mar­ket­ing to check-ins, au­di­ence an­a­lyt­ics, ticket in­sur­ance, fi­nances and in­te­gra­tion with ra­dio fre­quency ID tags (RFIDS). It’s big on real-time, user-friend­ly­look­ing dash­boards that show you how ticket sales, or an event is track­ing once it’s kicked off. Pa­tel also pushes what he bills as an anti-scalp­ing fea­ture: if some­one no longer needs their ticket, Ticket Fairy pro­vides them with an of­fi­cial re­sale mar­ket. It also has a wait-list fea­ture for sold-out events.

It also sup­ports a re­fer­ral sys­tem that al­lows you to, say, ex­tend a $250 30-day mi­cro loan to an event goer to cover the cost of their ticket. The more friends they re­fer who buy tick­ets, the less of that loan they’ll have to pay back. In fact, if they bug enough peo­ple via di­rect mes­sages or so­cial me­dia links, they won’t have to pay a cent.

Ticket Fairy’s soft­ware lets an or­gan­iser track the top re­fer­rers and so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers or “mi­cro-in­flu­encers” for an event, too.

Dur­ing its soft-launch, which has in­volved events that have sold more than 850,000 tick­ets, about one-in-three con­cert­go­ers has used the re­fer­ral fea­ture.

Pa­tel claims Ticket Fairy has boosted rev­enue by 15 per cent to 25 per cent at fes­ti­vals and dance par­ties where its sys­tem has been tri­alled. At any rate, the re­sults have been good enough to get the afore­men­tioned ex­pe­ri­enced in­vestors on­board.

Lon­don-raised Ritesh Pa­tel did a de­gree com­puter science de­gree at the Univer­sity of Bris­tol in the UK and worked as a soft­ware de­vel­oper for more than a decade be­fore mov­ing into the mu­sic event in­dus­try — where his brother Ji­gar, who trained as a sound engineer, fol­lowed.

Their startup cur­rently has 35 staff — most at its head­quar­ters in LA. With the cap­i­tal raise and cloud plat­form launch, he sees that ris­ing to 100 in a year or so.

His plan is to hit prof­itabil­ity within five

The con­cen­trated na­ture of our mar­ket means there’s of­ten no choice about where you can buy tick­ets for an event.

Jes­sica Will­son, Con­sumer NZ

 ?? Photo / Getty Im­ages ?? U2, Lorde, Mar­lon Wil­lains and the Bay Dreams fes­ti­val.
Photo / Getty Im­ages U2, Lorde, Mar­lon Wil­lains and the Bay Dreams fes­ti­val.
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Ritesh Pa­tel
Ritesh Pa­tel
 ??  ?? AJ Berten­shaw
AJ Berten­shaw

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