eTickets.to: Matt McNeill
eTickets founder on why they're changing the industry and reaching out to smaller events
Internet wizard Matt McNeill spotted a great business idea when a friend needed his help. She wanted to sell tickets for a small event cost effectively, but there was no one to help her. So back in 2004 eTickets was born when McNeill set up a basic and cheap system of selling tickets online.
McNeill was never one to work for someone else. At the age of 17 he was designing music websites and has worked in internet technology ever since. He also runs email and mobile marketing company, Sign-Up.to, but eTickets is his most unique idea to date – and the one that landed the accolade of Innovative Business of the Year at this year’s Startups Awards.
“It’s a new take on the ticketing business model,” explains McNeill. “It was born out of frustration at high booking fees charged by traditional sellers, so we created a ticketing platform that allowed promoters to sell tickets themselves.”
Start-up capital of £10,000 came through McNeill’s previous companies so no borrowing was needed. When it came to a business plan he didn’t go down the formal route, either.
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“I’ve always had a plan, but it was never written down. I had an outline and the knowledge of what I wanted -I would fill in the details when I had to.”
It has taken McNeill 18 months to establish eTickets and he admits it’s been a real challenge in such a competitive market.
However, he insists his limited marketing budget actually ended up working in his favour. “”People saw it as a unique thing so we got lots of good PR. We started with a few key customers and used them to help build momentum, we ended up picking up a lot of word-of-mouth referrals”.
Clients include 50,000 capacity concerts but also independent productions and local plays, so it’s essential eTickets’ system is user-friendly. “Our underlying concept is to make it accessible to non-technical people, therefore increasing the customers that use it.”
Turnover is approaching the £1m mark and eTickets is already a global operation with clients in the US, Canada and Australia. It is a logistical challenge McNeill’s not overly concerned by. “With the internet being so accessible today it allows us to work with clients all over the world without having to directly meet them.”
Unsurprisingly then, further global expansion is planned. “We’re going to be doing multi-language versions of the system so opening it up to a worldwide market. We are continually adding new features and adapting it to make it work for lots of different events.”
Victory at the Startups Awards has boosted the company’s credibility, says McNeill. “When we’re dealing with an overseas businesses who may not of heard of us, we can point them in the direction of the award and it shows that we have recognition within the industry.”