How A Former Talent Booker Launched ShowClix, Which Sold 400,000 Tickets In 40 Months

ShowClix is Lynsie Camuso’s first startup, and she had to change the company’s direction along the way, but in the 3.5 years since she launched the site it sold over 400,000 tickets and generated over $7 million in sales.

This is the story of how she did it.

Lynsie Camuso

Lynsie Camuso


Lynsie Camuso is the co-founder of ShowClix, a full-service ticketing company that provides event organizers, promoters and venue managers with innovative solutions that allow them to sell tickets online, over the telephone and at their box office.



Full Interview Transcript

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Here’s the program.

Andrew Warner: Hey everyone. I’m Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of, home of the ambitious upstart. You guys know what we do here. Every day I bring a different entrepreneur on, actually not even only entrepreneurs, I don’t want to limit myself. I want to bring on anyone who’s out there doing something interesting, something big in business, bring them here to do an interview with them so we can find out how they did it, so we can hear their stories, so we can learn from them. More importantly, the most important thing, is so you guys can take these ideas, go out there, build incredible companies, and then come back here, first of all, to give me credit for helping you build those companies, and second, to do an interview the way today’s guest is going to do.

Today’s guest is Lynsie Camuso. She’s the co-founder of ShowClix. ShowClix offers online ticketing for event organizers, promoters, and venue managers. Since going to market in 2008, the company sold over 400,000 tickets and generated over $7 million in sales. Lynsie, welcome to Mixergy.

Lynsie Camuso: Hi. Thanks.

Andrew: First question is about your experience. I was looking on your LinkedIn, it turns out you worked for Rosie O’Donnell as a talent assistant. How do you assist talent? How did you do it?

Lynsie: Yeah. I started my career as a talent booker, a talent assistant, at the Rosie O’Donnell Show in the music department. How I assisted them, I booked various segments on the show, coordinated their appearance. I was the person who was standing on the curb outside of the show with a clipboard, met them, brought them in, showed them to the green room, did the sound check, rehearsal, and then coordinated their segment on the show. Everything from booking through their appearance on the show, I handled.

Andrew: Wow. You got a car, you got somebody who meets you downstairs, kind of like Mixergy, right?

Lynsie: Yeah. Absolutely. [laughs]

Andrew: This must seem like a dump to you in comparison. You have to do the work on your camera and your audio.

Lynsie: I did get a kiss from Elton John, not to brag.

Andrew: Not bad. Any techniques for finding guests or for bringing them in? Not just for me, because I’m doing these interviews, but I figure other entrepreneurs are out there trying to make contacts, trying to build relationships. If you can find a way to get a rock star to say yes, then surely they can find a way to get an entrepreneur to say yes.

Lynsie: I’ve always recommended to people whenever you’re looking to reach out, whether it be a media outlet, a blogger, make sure it’s relevant to that person you’re reaching out to. It doesn’t make sense to just cast that net and hope for the best. Really think about what it is you’re trying to accomplish and how the person that you’re reaching out to it will benefit them as well.

Andrew: Do you have an example? Maybe one from the Rosie O’Donnell days?

Lynsie: Actually, my best example is from the early days at ShowClix.

Andrew: Okay.

Lynsie: One of the things that we did. . .

Andrew: By the way, nicely done to direct it back to the business. I like it. This is when you’re dealing with someone with experience. Sorry. Go ahead with the story.

Lynsie: Divert it right back to the. . .

Andrew: Yeah. I’m looking for show business, you’re bringing it back to real business, to your company, the mission here.

Lynsie: ShowClix is in the show business industry.

Andrew: Actually, that is absolutely true.

Lynsie: Yeah.

Andrew: Sorry. Go on with the story.

Lynsie: No problem. One of the things that we did, we launched the first version of the website in March of 2007, and at the time, it was actually an event destination website combined with a very light ticketing platform. Really, what we were just trying to do was build our brand, get our name out there anywhere we could.

We were sitting there and we were thinking, “Okay. Well, who has the type of audience that would attend concerts, live music?” What we did was we were looking, and my business partner and I were big fans of Perez Hilton. So we said, “Well, what can we do to get some exposure on his website?” We didn’t have a lot of money. We reached out to him. We knew at the time that he was really into Amy Winehouse. We reached out to him. We said, “Hey. We have tickets to 10 Amy Winehouse concerts taking place across the country. We’d like to partner with you to give these away to your readers.”

Again, keeping in mind, it was something that he was really into, something that he likes, something that his readers were into, and put it live and drove, I think we had 40,000 registered users the first time we did a promotion with him. It was as simple as looking for somebody who had the right audience and finding the right promotion that made sense for them and their audience.

Andrew: Let me see if I understood this. 40,000 registered users for less than a dozen tickets to one concert?

Lynsie: Yeah. Well, it was actually concerts across the country.

Andrew: How many tickets overall did you give?

Lynsie: I think we only gave away between 15 and 20.

Andrew: Between 15 and 20? Let’s assume, how much is a ticket? About 100 bucks? This is nothing.

Lynsie: It wasn’t even that. I think it was like 35 to 50 bucks.

Andrew: Wow. So less than 10,000 bucks, and you end up with 40,000 registered users and you get your name out there with the right target audience.

Lynsie: Yeah. And to register to win the tickets, they had to register on our site, so at that point, they were ShowClix users.

Andrew: Wow. I keep hearing over and over in my interviews about the power of contests. I did an interview yesterday where it was, basically, the guy was driving registrations constantly with contests.

Lynsie: It has to be the right contest and the right partner.

Andrew: Have you done another one?

Lynsie: We did. We actually worked with Perez a couple of times. We did Amy Winehouse. We did Lily Allen. At that point, though, we really started to shift toward building out the ticketing platform. At that point, we were in the process of raising our first round of funding. After we raised the first round of funding, a lot of our efforts, which was shortly after this, a lot of our efforts went into building this current version of the ticketing platform.

Andrew: Okay. One more question about him, and then I want to go back in time to find out how we got here.

Lynsie: Yeah.

Andrew: Did you have to pay him anything?

Lynsie: No.

Andrew: No. Nothing? Wow. Great deal.

Lynsie: No.

Andrew: Let’s go back to how you and your co-founder met, you and Joshua. How do you say his last name?

Lynsie: Dziabiak.

Andrew: Joshua Dziabiak. He got a, what kind of mention? Something in “Inc.” magazine. Apparently the guy’s a rock star in entrepreneurship.

Lynsie: Yeah. He was just named one of “Inc.” magazine’s top 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

Andrew: “Inc.” magazine has so many freaking lists I can’t keep track of them. There’s the top 30 under 30. I think the top 40 under 40. Next week, they’re going to have the top 80 under 80.

Lynsie: Yeah. [laughs]

Andrew: Joshua is very impressive. He, before launching this company, before turning 18, sold the company that he launched called MediaCatch, sold it for a million dollars before he turned 18.

Lynsie: Yeah. I think he was about 17 years old when he sold that first company. Then shortly after that, he started the company when he was 14, sold it at 17, at that point, he had never worked for anyone else. He went out there and said, “Okay. I’d like to work in a startup environment. I’d like to look at this from the inside rather than somebody who was running it, somebody who’s working for one.” He ended up getting hired at, which is where I was heading up the U.S. marketing department. So we met working for Spreadshirt. We worked on all the marketing and advertising campaigns together.

Andrew: How did you click? What made you guys click?

Lynsie: I think, so we clicked right from the beginning. I think part of that was just we both are very passionate about the entertainment industry. As you mentioned, I started my career working at the Rosie O’Donnell show. After that, I came back to Pittsburgh for a couple of years, and I worked in the Pittsburgh Pirates front office as their marketing and promotions coordinator. Toughest marketing job in Pittsburgh. They’re pretty much the worst team in the history of sports, so to try to get people to buy tickets to the Pirates was a challenge.

After that, I moved to Los Angeles and I was a music publicist. I had spent the majority of my career working in entertainment. When I moved back from Los Angeles, there isn’t a lot of opportunity here in Pittsburgh in the entertainment industry. o I met somebody else who was very passionate about it, had an idea for a website that was related to the industry. I love the Internet. I would never do anything else. It just made sense for us to work together to build this.

Andrew: The classic partnership in our space is one guy who is the techie, and another guy or girl who’s the business person, and they just complement each other.

Lynsie: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: What’s your partnership like?

Lynsie: We do have great complementary skillsets. Josh actually started out as a graphic designer. MediaCatch started out as a graphic design company that transitioned into web hosting once he saw a lot of his clients needed hosting, obviously. He was sending them to someone else, and it clicked one day and said, “Why am I giving all of this business to this other company? I’m going to try to find a way to host it.”

He’s a graphic designer with a really great business sense and also a passion for marketing, sales, and customer service. On the other side of things, I’m more marketing, sales, and business development. There is some overlap, but he is definitely more the technical person. I’m more of the sales, marketing side of things.

Andrew: Okay. At what point did you guys decide that you were going to work together?

Lynsie: We met in the summer of 2006. As I mentioned, we immediately started working on all of the marketing and advertising campaigns for Spreadshirt. I think we actually increased their user registration by 200% within six months of working together. We knew we worked really well together. We took a very similar approach to marketing and advertising. We feel like you can do a lot with a little if you just get creative about it.

I think it was in August of 2006, he started bouncing . . . his initial idea for ShowClix was an event destination website. At the time, when you thought of search, you thought of Google, books Amazon, but there wasn’t that one destination site where everybody could go to find out what was happening. It was pre-Eventful, pre-Upcoming. It launched, again, like that with the light ticketing solution.

At the end of ’06, we sat down and we’re like, “Let’s really do this.” Started writing the business plan, and what we found was the revenue model really was in the ticketing solution that we were going to bundle into this event website. Went live with it in March of ’07 and were initially amazed at how many people were looking for a ticketing system.

Andrew: Before we go into the ticketing system part of the business, I’ve got a few questions on what you’ve said so far. The first is, you said you increased Spreadshirt’s sales by 200%?

Lynsie: Their user registration.

Andrew: The user registration. How?

Lynsie: Actually what we did was, it was focused on the entertainment industry. So I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Spreadshirt, but they’re a custom apparel company, competitors CafePress and Zazzle. We sat down, we were like, “So who needs to sell?”

They have two sides to the business. One is an individual like you could go on and design one T-shirt, have that printed out, and delivered to you. The other side of that is you can go on, create a Mixergy T-shirt shop, where you’re selling. What we were focused on was finding people to open shops. What we said is, “Who needs to sell merchandise? Artists.” So, again, we brought it back to the entertainment industry and we did all of the campaigns around independent artists and having them create shops to sell their merchandise online. That’s how we focused it. Really a lot around Google AdWords and MySpace advertising.

Andrew: The other thing you said was that back then, when you were just listing events, there wasn’t a search engine like Eventful, like Upcoming. Since then, there’ve been a few people who took a shot at that business, but I didn’t see any home runs in that space.

Lynsie: Yeah.

Andrew: Why is that? What did you see?

Lynsie: It’s a tough space. I think the reason for that is events are very regional. They’re very city-specific. It’s hard to do it well when you’re trying to do it on a national level. Being in Pittsburgh, look how many resources there are probably in your city, where you can go and find out what’s happening. Why go to a national source where more than likely, it’s probably robots scraping other websites to publish the content. It’s lacking detail. I think that’s part of the problem is it’s just very city-specific.

Andrew: Where would you go now if you were looking for an event? To see what was going on next week? To see what was going on in the fall?

Lynsie: In my city? Or just in general?

Andrew: Mm-hmm. Yeah. What website do you use now?

Lynsie: I typically would use one of our local websites, like the Pittsburgh city paper, to find out what was happening in Pittsburgh.

Andrew: I see. I think that’s a direction that Zvents went in. They realized that they couldn’t make a name for themselves and they couldn’t get people regionally to come to their website, so they partnered with newspapers and they power regional sites.

Lynsie: Yeah. Exactly. I think that’s the best approach to having success in that industry.

Andrew: I see. I didn’t realize the issues there. You also said that the two of you do a lot with little. I love examples. Do you have an example to connect that to?

Lynsie: I think the Perez Hilton example is such a good example. What, we spent $50 a ticket, $500 and we had 40,000 registered users. One of the things that we did early on was when we were building the ticketing system, we knew that in this industry it was very important to have some sort of brand. People had to have seen your name before they’re going to run all of their ticketing revenue through you.

Rather than spend a lot of money, well, we didn’t have a lot of money, but rather than spend money on the branding and advertising, what we did was something similar where we used the content that we had created for the event website. We partnered with radio stations around the country, and we created this content distribution network where we were powering the concerts pages on radio station websites around the country. We didn’t charge them anything, so it was free for them to use. But for us, it was great name recognition in cities around the country so that when we did launch the ticketing platform, at least people had heard of us.

Andrew: How did you get to make all those partnerships?

Lynsie: Making phone calls, sending emails. I actually did a lot of freelance work in radio and TV in between a lot of those jobs. So I knew the industry well.

I knew that in a lot of the radio stations, a lot of the TV stations, there’s one guy managing the website, and it’s really overwhelming. So, going directly to them and saying, “I have a way to save you X amount of time every week by automating this process for you.” They were immediately on board, and they would go to the right person and say, “I’d like to implement this into our website.”

Andrew: I see. So, you would just find out who the webmaster was or whatever they happened to call themselves on the website?

Lynsie: Yep.

Andrew: Send them a note, contact them, and say, “I can save you some time.” Wow.

Lynsie: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. What was the funding up until the point where you decided to become a ticketing company?

Lynsie: Josh and I bootstrapped it. He had put some money in initially to build the very first version of the website. After we started working together, the two of us just bootstrapped it for a long time. We launched in March of ’07, and then we raised our very first round of funding in September of that year from an organization called Innovation Works. We were raising small rounds of funding through them probably all through 2008.

Andrew: How much did you have before you got your first outside round of funding? What did the website look like?

Lynsie: We launched with about 6,000 events. I think we got up to having about 25,000 events in the system, and we had two ticketing clients. When we were at Spreadshirt, we had built a relationship with a company called Broadjam, when we were doing that campaign targeting independent artists.

Broadjam actually referred us, again you never know who’s going to refer you, your business, they sent us our very first two clients, the Berghoff & Blues Festival in Monroe, Wisconsin, and the Los Angeles Music Awards in Los Angeles. Those two clients used the very first version of our ticketing system. When we went to raise that first round of funding, we had a few examples and we were generating a little bit of revenue.

Andrew: You already knew that you were going to go in the ticketing direction?

Lynsie: We actually stayed, we actually continued with the live event search engine side of things for quite a while, actually through 2008. What it was was event promoters could land on the site and add the event for free. It was pretty automated. It was pretty hands-off for us.

What we started to find was as more and more clients were signing ticketing agreements with us, when their ticket buyers were coming to the website, it didn’t make sense for us to be promoting events that we weren’t ticketing. All it was doing was making it harder for ticket buyers to find the events that they needed to find. At some point, we just said, “You know what? It’s draining our resources. It’s not generating any revenue. We know we want to move into the ticketing space. This is what we want to do really, really well.” So we phased it out.

Andrew: Anthony Serra [SP] in the audience is asking, “Was it still just you and a co-founder at that point?”

Lynsie: We made our first full-time hire in March of 2009.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Not until after you changed direction. Not until after you got funding.

Lynsie: The two of us did everything for about a year.

Andrew: Wow.

Lynsie: That is, actually we did have a freelance, we had a contract developer that was working with us. But full-time, we did all the customer service. We did all the sales. We did all the business development. Yeah. We did everything for a long time.

Andrew: It sounds like there’s a lot of cold calling or at least cold emailing. Was that you who was doing it or Josh?

Lynsie: Yeah. It was mostly me. Depending on the campaign, the two of us would work together on something.

Andrew: Okay. Wow. Let’s see what else I wanted to ask you here. Shoot. I had a question and now I can’t even think of what it is. [laughs] The funding, how much did you raise?

Lynsie: The first round of funding, we’ve raised to date just over a million dollars. That’s from September 2007 through today. The first round of funding was $150,000, and I think we made that the last nine months.

Andrew: Wow. I know what it was. It was you mentioned that you had hundreds of events listed on your website. How did you get hundreds of events listed on your website?

Lynsie: Actually, a variety of ways. We created some tools that we could use to go on different artists’ websites on MySpace and pull all of that information and plug it into ShowClix. Again, we had these users that were just the 40,000, or 50,000, 60,000 that we were getting through the promotions that we were doing. Those people started to tell their friends about it. They were adding. Some of it we were adding. Some of it we were scraping. Some of it was user-generated.

Andrew: It sounds like, for a long time, the bulk of your registrations were the people who came in from that contest you told us about?

Lynsie: Yeah. That was, we would have surges through the contests that we would do. Then, obviously, every day we had a couple dozen users signing up in the beginning.

Andrew: What was the first version of the site? What did that look like?

Lynsie: Actually, we have a blog post. It’s somewhere on our blog, I’d have to find it. It’s amazing how different the website looks from the very first version to today. It was busy. It was cluttered. We really spent a lot of time going back and streamlining the look of the website.

We do, we have a before and after somewhere on our blog that’s really actually funny when we look back. It’s funny because Josh is a designer, he’s very particular about the website. The big joke in the office is we’ll redesign the homepage and Josh will say, “Oh, I love the homepage. It’s great.” I note that date, because I like to see how long it takes for him to be ready for another redesign.

Andrew: [laughs] How long before he goes to, “I hate this webpage. What was I thinking?”

Lynsie: Exactly.

Andrew: Let me give the domain again. ShowClix, C-L-I-X, dot com. Go see what he likes today, and then come back in a couple of months and see if he still likes it.

I was looking at your website. Beyond the design and how easy it is to navigate, there’s something that stood out. I click to make an order. First thing I’m asked is my name and email address. Next thing after that is the completion of the order, the real meat of the order, like pick your seat, pick your price point, how many you want. That seems very clever. Seems like something that direct marketers would know to do, to collect the email address, get the person in the system, and then if you can’t sell them today, maybe you can come back and sell them tomorrow.

Lynsie: Yeah. Yeah. If you abandon the checkout process, we’ve collected some information so we can reach out to you and remind you, “Hey. You started to make the purchase. Was there a reason why you didn’t? If so, here’s the link to go back in and start over.”

Andrew: How did that evolve?

Lynsie: We actually work on the checkout process all the time. We’re always doing analysis. The thing is, yes, they’re our customers, but more importantly, they’re our clients’ customers. We do everything that we possibly can to make sure they have the absolute best experience. We obviously want the conversion rates to be as high as possible. We want the abandon rates to be as low as possible.

Really, it’s just about analyzing what we see going on, what the customers are doing, and then making the necessary changes. That’s actually, we redesigned that checkout process, I want to say, six to nine months ago and it’s been fantastic.

Andrew: I’m going to ask you in a bit about all the promoters that you have, but let me see if I understand how it would work. If a promoter has an event, he or she would come to your website and sell tickets through you.

Lynsie: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Their audience would buy the tickets on your website, and whether or not they bought the ticket, that potential customer would be in your database, and you could then market future events to them.

Lynsie: Mm-hmm. Yes. Actually, we won’t email our clients’ customers directly. We do have some recommendation engines in place, so once they place an order, they receive an email. Actually, we have an algorithm so if they purchased a ticket for an event being promoted by one promoter and he has other events in the system, we’ll automatically recommend his events or other events that are similar.

Yeah. That is how it works. They come to us, they sign up for an account. We actually have two different solutions. We have a full-service solution and a very light, online-only solution that they can choose from.

Andrew: Would you email or somehow get in contact with one promoter’s customer for another event that has nothing to do with that promoter. No, huh?

Lynsie: No. We don’t do that.

Andrew: Can’t do that all. I see.

Lynsie: No. Actually, we tell our clients that the customer information is their information. We will contact the customer if there’s an issue with the order, password information. Again, we will make recommendations in automatic emails that they receive anyway. But we don’t do email blasts to one promoter’s clients from another.

Andrew: I see. I thought maybe I found a new way that you guys were growing your audience that way.

Lynsie: [laughs]

Andrew: How else are you growing your audience? How are you getting more people in the system?

Lynsie: What’s really interesting is, up to this point we’ve been very reactive. We have over 1,100 clients in exclusive ticketing agreements with us. The majority of them, especially in the beginning, came to us strictly through our online advertising efforts. We have campaigns, mostly Google AdWords.

Again, as I mentioned in the beginning, I’m blown away by how many people are looking for, not only just a ticketing system, but an alternative to the other ticketing companies that exist. Over the past year, I would say, we’re getting more and more referrals. We’re just in the process of building a direct sales force. So far, everyone has come to us.

Andrew: I mentioned that you have 1,100 promoters. How many of those came to you? Is that the way that you’d meet them?

Lynsie: Yeah. The majority are searching for a ticketing solution online. They’re doing a little bit of research. They find ShowClix. Contact us for more information to see a demo. It’s really amazing. Once we show a potential client a demo, 80% of the time, we’ll close that deal. The system’s really user-friendly.

Andrew: How can you tell? How can you tie back an order to a video view? Or do you mean that you’re doing it one on one?

Lynsie: We actually walk them through. Our ticketing advisors will walk them through a demo of the system.

Andrew: Mike B. in the audience is asking about Ticketmaster. He’s saying, “Have you been shut out because of Ticketmaster?” What are the issues around that? I know that you guys have had to deal with them.

Lynsie: Yeah. The major issues that we face are the fact that they have a lot of people tied into really long-term contracts. Over the past 10 years, they’ve been signing clients and locking them into, usually, a five- to seven-year agreement. We are signing clients over. We’re converting clients regularly, but a lot of them are tied up for quite some time. That’s a challenge that we face in growing the business in certain industries, like live music and sports.

Andrew: Are you tying clients up to one-year agreements?

Lynsie: We typically do two-year agreements. The reason that we do that is there’s no up-front cost to use our system. With Ticketmaster, a lot of times there’s a set-up fee and a lot of other fees that are involved with even getting an account set up with them.

We have no up-front costs to use the system. We work with you to create the account. If you do reserve seating, we build the venue map for you at no cost. Our graphics department will customize the ticketing page to match the look and feel of your website. We do a lot of work for these people up front at no cost. We always tell them the reason we do this is we’re really looking to build a partnership. We’re looking at this as we’re going to do work for you. All we ask is that you use the ticketing system for two years.

Andrew: You guys created something called, I think it’s the Fair Ticketing Fund. What is that?

Lynsie: Yeah. What is was, must have been a year and a half ago or so now, was when the works of this Ticketmaster, Live Nation merger were starting, people were starting to talk about it and there was a lot of backlash. There was a lot of people talking about it. A lot of promoters were unhappy.

What we did was we created a fund that would help support promoters and venues that wanted to operate outside of that Ticketmaster, Live Nation umbrella. The fear a lot of people had is, “Well, they helped me promote.” Or, “They bring acts to me.” Whatever it may be. What we said is, “Okay. Work with us. We’ll help support you financially so that you can either bring in that band that you want to bring in, do some additional advertising, whatever it may be.”

Andrew: How many people. . .

Lynsie: We were very successful. We haven’t signed, it’s not that we signed a lot of clients . . .

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Lynsie: . . .through the Fair Ticketing Fund. We do have a handful that are participating in the program. We got a lot of name recognition. We were featured in a lot of publications, did some radio interviews.

What really amazed me was the fan mail that we got, not from ticket sellers, but from tickets buyers. People reaching out to us saying, “I really like what you’re doing. How can I tell my local venue about you? I don’t want to pay the Ticketmaster service fees. How can we get more promoters to work with a company like yours?” That was really surprising to me.

Andrew: How do you deal with Ticketmaster? I had the president of Ticketmaster here on Mixergy. Everything that he said that he was doing makes complete sense from a business point of view. Tie people up to 10-year agreements. Why not? If you can do it, and charge people a fee, whatever the market will bear. He explained the reasoning for it. I said, “All right. That makes a lot of sense to me.” Now how do you compete with that?

Lynsie: I think more and more people, what’s happening is, especially ticket buyers are to the point where they just won’t purchase the tickets anymore. So we hear more and more stories of ticket buyers going out of their way to drive somewhere to purchase the tickets so they don’t have. . .

Andrew: You’re saying ticket buyers will go out of their way to boycott a Ticketmaster event?

Lynsie: Yes. They will drive to the box office where they don’t have to pay the fee. Or, they’ll wait, they’ll gamble, they’ll wait and say, “I’m going to wait to buy at the door. If it sells out, it sells out. That’s fine. I’d rather do that than pay 11, 12, 13 dollars in fees on four tickets.” Which adds up to an extra $50, which is the price of one ticket. I think people are over it.

The other thing is the market is saturated. There are more and more artists. There are more and more concerts. People just can’t afford to go to as many concerts as they used to because the ticket prices are being driven up significantly, just across the industry really, for a lot of reasons.

Andrew: What kind of events do you guys have? What kind of promoters do you work with?

Lynsie: That’s what is really interesting. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse for us. Our system is so flexible and so customizable that it works across so many different industries. We work with live music promoters. We do performing arts groups, colleges and universities, festivals.

Again, it’s great because when we were first getting started, the system would work for everyone. We didn’t have to turn anyone away. Moving forward, it just makes it a little bit harder to target your marketing and your advertising efforts and say, “Okay. Which industry is there the most potential to make a big impact quickly?”

Right now, we’re working with Heineken. We just signed an agreement with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to do their film department ticketing. We work with Rainmaker Artists to do all of their artist presales. It’s a little bit of everything.

Andrew: I see. What about Eventbrite? I interviewed the founder of Eventbrite here. He seemed to have a good model. How are you guys different?

Lynsie: Yeah. As I mentioned, we have two solutions. If you hit, you’re going to be presented with two options. One is that automated, kind of, touchless system for ShowClix where you create your account, you set up your event on your own. You never have to talk to someone at ShowClix. This is more the Eventbrite model, very low service fees, low margins.

The other side of it is our full-service solution. This is where we’re a little bit different. This is where you contact us. You have a dedicated ticketing consultant. We do reserve seating. We’ll set up venue maps and we can handle reserve seating events. Eventbrite doesn’t do that. We provide hardware. We have a Google Android-powered ticket scanner. The app transforms any Google-powered device into a ticket scanner. We provide hardware. We do bulk pre-printed tickets for our clients if they need them. We have a toll-free number and a customer care department where people can call if they have issues, customers or clients. The more full-service model is where we really differ from somebody like Eventbrite.

Andrew: I saw that you guys had a business plan. I keep saying you guys, you guys, you guys in this interview. I want to make sure to include Josh in it.

Lynsie: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Andrew: You had a business plan. I thought, “Wow. No one does business plans anymore.” The last time I saw one was when I built one. Why did you do it?

Lynsie: Actually the reason we did it, there was this business plan competition in Pittsburgh. Neither of us had ever written a business plan and we still laugh today because it’s like, “You really don’t need a 30-page business plan.” We really did it more as an exercise for the two of us to make sure we had the same vision, we were on the same page, and if we were going to embark on this journey together, that we knew where we were headed. We really more used it as an exercise to get the vision set.

The other thing was, we knew we were going to want to raise money. A good executive summary and some revenue probably would have got us in the door where we needed to get in the door, but having that business plan when you were meeting with an investor just showed a level of seriousness that you might not get if you walked in the door without one. I think it really did help us raise that initial funding as well.

Andrew: Beyond the funding, what did it give you? How did it help you think about your business?

Lynsie: I think it really helped us think about the revenue model. Again, we were looking and we had two sides of the business. We had this live event search engine; we had a ticketing company. Once we started to run the numbers on each, we were like, “Wow. It’s really amazing, the potential on the ticketing side where it’s really hard to generate advertising revenue.” If we would have gone that route and relied on generating advertising revenue to run this business, we might not be here today. It really started to help us think where the most potential existed.

And also, it really helped us think through the development of the ticketing system as well. We did research into the market and the features that were out there and maybe what some of the existing ticketing systems were lacking. One of the things was, at the time, there weren’t really a lot of completely web-based ticketing systems. A lot of them still required that you install software. There was some hardware that needed to be purchased. It really helped us going the completely web-based route.

Also, we launched, really, with a huge focus on mobile ticketing as a differentiator. What we found was we were a little bit ahead of ourselves. The clients, the ticket sellers, just really weren’t ready for the mobile ticketing. We’re hearing more and more now that they like it, but four years ago it was a different story.

Andrew: What was mobile ticketing back then?

Lynsie: We were actually doing SMS ticket delivery. It was a string of encrypted letters, numbers, and characters and required some hardware that we had. Just realized, especially in the beginning, the types of clients that we were signing, it was too much for them. It was too complex of a solution, where they really needed something simplified.

We learned a lot, especially acting as the sales department. We’ve learned a lot by talking to those clients early on and that’s always something I recommend as well. We thought, “We need to bring somebody in to do sales. We’re marketing people. We’re not sales people.” The best decision that we made was acting as the sales executives in the beginning because we learned so much about our pricing and our product that when we went back to make those initial revisions, we were really comfortable that we were making the right decisions.

Andrew: What else did you learn?

Lynsie: We learned how to sell the product, really, more than anything else. I think we learned our initial pricing structure was way too complicated. We made the mistake of looking at how some of our competitors priced their solutions. . .

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Lynsie: . . . and did something similar. I found I was spending a lot of time on the phone explaining the pricing. I’m like, “Let’s just do the math and wrap this into one single service fee on every ticket sold, and then they’ll get it within 30 seconds.” It really sped up the sales process. They were ready to see an agreement very quickly because they understood what they were getting for the price.

Andrew: You mentioned Pittsburgh a few times. In fact, I’m looking here at my notes and I see Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh. Why Pittsburgh?

Lynsie: We’re both from Pittsburgh. I’ve moved twice. I’ve moved to New York and I’ve moved to Los Angeles. I have what I like to call Pittsburgh Disease. I keep coming back. I love the city. It’s very easy to network and there are a ton of resources for startups. There are a lot of people who are here to help get these small businesses off the ground.

In addition to that, we’re based in Shadyside, which is an area of Pittsburgh that’s right around the corner from both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. So we have some really, really great talent coming out of the universities right down the road that we’re able to take advantage of.

Andrew: Who do you have as mentors there?

Lynsie: Innovation Works, who are initial investors, they have been such great advisors through all of this. I think that they’re probably the people we’ve relied on the most.

Andrew: What’s there to do in Pittsburgh beyond work? What’s the thing there?

Lynsie: The things that’s good, Pittsburgh’s amazing because we have a great cultural district. The ballet and opera are amazing. The Carnegie museums are unbelievable. We have the Andy Warhol Museum. Pittsburgh has three rivers, so this time of year, everyone’s boating and kayaking. There’s organizations like Bike Pittsburgh, who are all about creating more bike trails. Even though we’re located in an area that doesn’t necessarily have the best climate year-round, it’s actually a great city to get out there and do a lot of active things.

Andrew: Ah. Cool.

Lynsie: And there’s a great live music scene, too.

Andrew: A great music scene. What kind of music are you into?

Lynsie: This is a rock city. I am definitely more an indie rock type of person.

Andrew: Indie rock.

Lynsie: Yeah.

Andrew: Are you guys profitable yet?

Lynsie: Yeah. Well, we reached break even in 2009, and then we significantly increased the size of the team, so we’ve been fluctuating since then.

Andrew: But you’ve been profitable ever since then?

Lynsie: Yes.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Get out. How’s your investors? How do they feel about that?

Lynsie: Everyone’s really happy. We just had a board meeting a few weeks ago and everyone’s really happy with the progress. We have some really interesting things that we’re planning through the end of this year. We’re launching the next version of the ticketing system. We haven’t really touched it since July of ’08, so we’re very excited about version two.

We’re introducing the next version of our box office system. It’s going to be really robust. We’re doing a lot more in the mobile space. There are a lot of really exciting things that we have in store. We actually just signed an agreement with a company called GreenTicks.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Lynsie: They’re a ticketing company out of Australia. They’re using our system white label. It was our first international client, which actually, the work that we had to do to launch that agreement, that account, is allowing us to sell in all currencies now. We’ll be doing a lot of music festivals in Australia through the end of this year.

Andrew: By the way, the people who are listening to the recorded version, if you keep hearing snaps, it’s my pencil. I’ve got to get a mic that doesn’t pick up on the pencil.

Lynsie: [laughs]

Andrew: Biggest mistake. I’m seeing a lot of successes. I’m seeing a lot of things that worked out.

Lynsie: Yeah.

Andrew: Give me a big mistake that you learned from.

Lynsie: If there was thing I could go back and change. . . Josh and I are very cautious. Again, we did a lot with a little. There are a few things that I’ve probably would’ve liked to have sped up. We worked with contract developers a little bit longer than I would have liked to. I would have liked to have found a way to bring someone on, whether it was as a partner or just someone full-time earlier on, because I think it might have, the process of getting a lot of this stuff live would have been a lost faster.

Andrew: Where’d you get the contractors? A site like oDesk or Elance?

Lynsie: Well actually, no. Again, since we’re in Pittsburgh, we have the colleges and universities to pull from. There are a lot of, because we have CMU and Pitt here, and companies like Innovation Works, we have a pretty vibrant technology community here, so it’s really easy to find freelancers here.

Andrew: Best advice?

Lynsie: Best advice.

Andrew: I’m becoming like the guy from Inside the Actors Studio. My next question will be, “What’s your favorite sound?”

Lynsie: [laughs]

Andrew: Hell, I’ll do whatever it takes. If I have to ask questions like that in order to be taken seriously, I will do it. I don’t know how that guy gets taken so seriously, but if that’s what it takes. I’m even willing to grow a beard.

Lynsie: I love it.

Andrew: I got to ask my wife first.

Lynsie: My best advice, and again this is from somebody where software’s a service. My best advice would be, to founders, to sell your product. I mentioned this earlier. Be the one to sell your product in the early days because what you learn from those initial clients is invaluable and will probably shape the direction of your company from that point forward. Even if you don’t like to sell, just do it.

Andrew: Do you like to sell?

Lynsie: I do. I do. I’m not a cold call type person, that’s not my favorite thing. The reason I like to sell ShowClix is because I love it. I truly believe in it. I’m passionate about what we’re doing, and I know that our solution will work well for the majority of the people we’re talking to. If it doesn’t, I’m honest with them. Maybe there’s something else that makes more sense for you, but when I’m talking to someone and I can clearly see that we can help them generate more revenue, save them time, make them more productive, it’s easy to sell a product that you’re passionate about.

Andrew: All right. Let me remind people where the website is. It’s ShowClix, C-L-I-X, is the way to spell ShowClix. How else can they connect with you personally? Twitter? Facebook?

Lynsie: Yeah. I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Facebook. I’m on Twitter. They could always drop me an email.

Andrew: All right. All that information’s up on the web.

Lynsie: Yep.

Andrew: All right, guys. First of all, thank you for doing this interview with me.

Lynsie: Yeah. Thank you, Andrew. It was great.

Andrew: Thank you all for watching. Come back to Mixergy. Lately I’ve been closing off the comments a little bit quickly because I don’t have time to deal with all the comments that are coming in, but I still want to hear from you.

If you have any feedback on this. If you think I’m maybe snapping my pencil too much, come back and give me feedback. Especially if you know what mic I should get to stop that. Or, if you think I’m drawing too much attention to the pencil, come back and give me feedback. Basically, what I’m saying is, I need feedback from you. I want to hear what you guys are hearing on your side. Come back, hit that contact button and let me know. Lynsie, thanks for doing the interview.

Lynsie: Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Cool. Bye. Bye everyone.

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