TickX is just the ticket for the future of entertainment

2 Oct 2017

From left: TickX co-founders Steve Pearce and Sam Coley. Image: TickX

Our start-up of the week is Manchester’s TickX, an online platform to find events, compare ticket prices and purchase them via an iOS/Android app or online.

“TickX is described as the Skyscanner for events,” said TickX co-founder and CEO, Steve Pearce.

“We aggregate over 125,000 music, comedy, festival, theatre and sporting events from more than 50 ticket partners to provide one single place to discover what events are happening, who’s selling tickets and who is the cheapest.”

‘We have secured funding from incredible investors, expanded our team and launched new innovations, such as our chatbot and interactive seating maps, with views from the seat’

For example, TickX has partnered with the most popular ticket-selling platforms in Ireland, including Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, See Tickets, Tickets.ie, Seatwave, GetMeIn, Viagogo and Ticketbis.

The start-up appeared on the last series of BBC’s Dragon’s Den.

The market

“The live entertainment and events industry is one of the only markets globally not to have a billion-dollar aggregator,” said Pearce.

“For example, the flights industry has Skyscanner, hotels have Trivago, rental cars have Rentalcars.com, but the events industry has been neglected.

“We aim to fill this huge gap in the market by becoming the global go-to platform for searching events.”

The founders

TickX is just the ticket for the future of entertainment

From left: Steve Pearce and Sam Coley appear on BBC’s Dragons Den. Image: TickX

Pearce is a University of Manchester economics graduate, who admits that like most students, he went out far too often.

“After three years, I became sick and tired of the efforts involved organising a night out, and it was at this point I approached my co-founder Sam [Coley] with the initial idea, as he had previously grown a successful software development business.

“We were both amazed there wasn’t one single decent platform where event-goers could discover what events were happening, who’s selling tickets and who’s the cheapest, so we decided to get cracking on building TickX.”

The technology

Pearce explained that TickX algorithms take the chaos of event information from more than 50 ticket partners from across the UK and Ireland, and put it into one single, clean feed.

“This unique event and ticket database enables us to power our leading innovations, such as the world’s first event-search chatbot.

“Our mission is to become the global go-to platform for searching events,” said Pearce.

Ticket to ride

TickX launched in Ireland in August.

“We’re really pleased with TickX’s growth since Dragon’s Den,” Pearce said.

“We have secured funding from incredible investors, expanded our team and launched new innovations, such as our chatbot and interactive seating maps, with views from the seat.

“So, after rapid growth in the UK with over 150,000 event-goers using our platform each month, we have now launched in Ireland and we’ll be raising a larger funding round towards the end of the year to enable us to expand rapidly across Europe.”

Good entrepreneurs will always find diamonds in the coal

However, TickX’s non-stop growth journey has come close to derailment, thanks to the ongoing skills crisis in tech.

“Put any tech leaders in a room and inevitably, the conversation will turn to the nightmare of hiring developers. It’s probably one of the greatest challenges you’ll face when growing a start-up, and getting it wrong could send your company to an early grave. For this reason, we put a huge amount of focus on our hiring strategy and creating a great place to work to attract and retain the best talent.”

Pearce said that the number of tech hubs outside the main nerve centres are on the rise.

“It’s a very exciting time for tech and start-ups, and we feel there’s no better time to start a business. It’s also fantastic to see an increasing amount of tech hubs and start-up ecosystems outside of London and Silicon Valley – so now it’s easier than ever to start a tech business even if you are based outside one of the traditional tech hubs.”

However, in the war for talent, he believes a lot of companies are missing out on some real diamonds by sticking to rigid rules.

“One of the best things about interviewing developers is they are generally pretty awful salespeople. You’ll get truthful answers to questions, but you need to be prepared to help some people sell themselves and look beyond their sales ability. Do this well and you’ll find gems which other companies completely missed.

“It also never ceases to amaze us when companies turn away developers because they don’t have a degree. When looking at CVs, we look at their experience – it will tell you a lot more than three letters will and we’ve found some amazingly talented candidates as a result of this.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years