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Search engine start-up eyes international expansion after Dragon's Den bid
By Rhian Jones on 03 Jan 2017
Price comparison website TickX was shown declining all offers from the investors on BBC’s Dragon’s Den at the weekend, so how has the business fared since?
The episode was filmed in May, when founders Steve Pearce and Sam Coley asked for £75k funding in return for 5% equity in their business. It would have been their second round of investment after securing £175k in 2015 from a round that was led by the Ministry of Sound Group.
On Dragon’s Den, two investors offered £37.5k for 10% of the business, while another offered the whole £75k in return for 15%. However, Pearce and Coley declined, deciding to hold firm on giving away no more than 5% equity.
Since then, the duo have raised 10 times the amount of investment they asked for with a second round of £750k that was led by London-based 24Haymarket.
TickX has gone from attracting 18,000 to 100,000 monthly active users, increasing sales revenues twenty fold since January last year. In September, industry veteran Tim Chambers was named a non-executive director.
The company makes money from commission earned for referrals, and Pearce and Coley, who are still majority shareholders, aim to become the Skyscanner of event ticketing.
One of the concerns the Dragons raised was over the ability to turn TickX into a household name without a multi-million pound marketing budget. Pearce responds by saying there’s a “huge focus on providing the absolute best music experience possible, and because of that we are finding that word of mouth is growing the platform.” Additionally, a combination of search engine optimisation, marketing and targeted advertisement on social media “is working very well for us,” he adds.
Coley explains: “From a user perspective we provide as much transparency in the market as possible. We help event-goers see what’s on and who’s selling the cheapest ticket.
“From a live music perspective, we are helping promoters and artists sell out their shows by providing a marketing channel for them to reach a new audience.”
“From a live music perspective, we are helping promoters and artists sell out their shows by providing a marketing channel for them to reach a new audience.
“Most events don’t sell out and we want to fill those seats and venues.”
Tickets are aggregated from both the primary and secondary market, and are listed according to price.
Coley says: “We don’t prioritise sellers based on how much commission they pay us, we do it by the price of the ticket so our users know they are getting the best deal.”
Ambitions for 2017 and beyond are launching in Ireland and other European territories, and the US is on the horizon.
Tech features like event and artist tracking, as well as interactive seating maps are also in the works.
“It’s going to be a few years before everyone knows about us, but things like Dragon’s Den are very good PR, three million people watched that episode,” says Coley.
“We’ve got to change user behaviour so people understand that it’s worth comparing prices and make TickX synonymous with searching for events.”
“We’ve got to change user behaviour so people understand that it’s worth comparing prices and make TickX synonymous with searching for events.
“We expect to do another funding round to accelerate our service a lot faster into Europe and beyond over the next few years.”
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