BANKS REJECTED KRISTEN GOLDUP’S BUSINESS PROPOSITION 10 YEARS AGO AS “TOO HIGH RISK”, BUT LOCAL TICKETS HAS GROWN FROM AN ANNUAL TURNOVER OF A COUPLE OF THOUSAND DOLLARS TO MILLIONS PER YEAR.
Trading locally as Townsville Tickets, the Local Tickets company now covers every Australian town and is expanding its international licensing opportunities.
“I saw the gap ten years ago when I was running a marketing and PR consultancy, Positive PR, in Townsville and I needed a ticketing solution for clients,” Kristen Goldup, Director of Local Tickets, explains. “There were no self-serve e-commerce ticketing companies in our space, so I ended up doing it myself.”
“We really had to pioneer the SME ticketing space, as there were no programs to copy, I had to write a development brief from scratch. I was lucky to find amazing contractors in Townsville that worked with me to develop what is now considered an industry leading system.”
As a start-up in online ticketing, Local Tickets was met with hesitation by financial institutions.
“Ten years ago, banks just weren’t in the head space for start-up E-Commerce. They were only dealing with big corporations online. I couldn’t get a bank to back me with an online merchant facility,” she says. “Three major banks said no. They all deemed online ticketing as high risk because of what they call forward bookings, meaning customers were paying for something online but not receiving goods/services for several months. It also didn’t help that at the time I was trying to secure a bank, the Michael Jackson final concert fiasco occurred, leaving the financial institutions bearing the cost of the tickets worldwide. But one bank did give us a go (NAB) and we have remained loyal to them ever since. Those other banks are now knocking on our doors wanting to do business!”
Despite the challenges and immense amount of effort to get it off the ground, Kristen kept working at it. She wound down her PR agency to focus on the growth of Local Tickets, keeping just a couple of key clients on retainer for cash flow.
“A former colleague and friend came on board as a co-owner and together we bootstrapped the company”.
Kristen is constantly innovating and investing back into the business, developing a ticketing app that can do sales onsite and on the go, and sourcing high end ticket scanners.
“I had to find a product that had inbuilt batteries to sustain the long duration of big events, so we sourced scanner guns” she explains. “They cost $5000 each, and we own ten of them.”
Kristen’s marketing and PR background gives her a competitive edge, and her grass roots approach means she is closely linked with events and can keep finding gaps in the market to capitalise on.
“We’re turning the lack of marketing budgets into opportunity for clients by offering marketing packages to support the event organiser and boost ticket sales,” she says.
“We’ve launched a new web design, and an industry magazine designed to inspire and educate event organisers.”
“As you’re growing the product offering, it’s a constant challenge to keep the marketing in line with the innovation,” she says. “We’ve just relaunched ourselves for about the sixth time.”
While her office is now based in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall, Townsville is still a key player in Local Tickets’ success. Kristen travels here regularly to visit family, meet with her developers and contractors, and service clients. She credits the strong relationships forged here with the growth of her business.
“I’ve always said the Townsville business community punches above its weight,” she says. “It’s very supportive and forward thinking, it doesn’t have tall poppy syndrome.”
“From contacts here in Townsville I have had doors open for me in large venues across Australia, and we’re now ticketing Johnathan Thurston’s tour in New Zealand. Other start-ups have shared important information about grants, and I secured a national media partner/investor because the local manager threw his support behind me.”
Kristen continues to use local suppliers, many of whom have been with her from the start.
“The IT company has been with the start of my business,” she says. “The copy and design for our new magazine has been done out of Townsville, and there are other contractors I use regularly.”
Today, Kristen and her team of six deliver ticketing solutions to thousands of events per year,”
“Today we can seamlessly ticket events online, at venues and onsite event ticketing booths, with just our APP and an IPAD” she says.
“We have traffic reports, door lists, allocated seating, scanner guns, tap and go payment devices and hard printed tickets.”
“A lot of clients are scared to make the leap to a ticketing system, but we hold their hand through the whole process and turn them into Ticketing Stars!”