Taking the fight to event ticketing platforms
Taking on established event ticketing giants and giving away half of your revenue in the process isn’t for the faint-hearted, but Rodrigo Bautista is determined to set an example. We caught up with the Founder and CEO of Ticketpass.org, an ethical ticketing platform, at an exciting time as the company prepares for its official launch into the secondary market.
Frustrated by the hassle of having event tickets that he couldn’t easily sell or transfer, Rodrigo started to investigate the industry.
“I found that the majority (80%) of people just want to get their money back, rather than being bothered about making a profit on their ticket resale,” Rodrigo says.
“There are 1.3m events in the UK in any given year and they are not all on the existing big ticketing platforms. These events required a secondary market but they weren’t being serviced.”
Ticketpass.org doesn’t pull its punches, describing itself as ‘an ethical alternative to a ticketing industry that often profits from greed.’
Rodrigo recalls: “I realised that many competitors just cared about profits, profits, profits.
“It’s your problem if you can’t attend an event.
“I thought that wasn’t fair, so I set out to create the most ethical and fair platform.”
The first stop for Rodrigo was to think about what fair and ethical meant in this instance. He decided it was offering the chance to transfer your ticket at its face value and to have a cap on booking fees.
Rodrigo also decided to give 50% of Ticketpass.org’s revenue to charities around the world – a bold move for a challenger start-up that wants to raise investment.
“I wanted to make a statement,” Rodrigo explains. “I wanted to set an example and show that it’s possible to have an ethical business.
“Luckily, ticketing is a volume business – so the more events there are, the more revenue, and the more good we can do with our ‘Give Back 50’ model.
“Of course, there were investors that didn’t get it,” the ethical entrepreneur adds. “But investing is a bit like dating – you quickly decide you’re not the right fit.
“We now have investors that are more focused on social impact.”
Since 2019, the team has raised £600,000 in two investment rounds and a further £100,000 from a crowdfunding campaign.
Ticketpass.org was established in 2017 after Rodrigo learned to code and developed a simple WordPress website. Since then, he has built a team of 13 – including eight developers – who have been busy integrating all the learning from the beta phase of the platform and upgrading everything ready to officially launch and scale.
The strategy is paying off, with the market responding well to the concept.
“Every customer is different but, for example, organisers with higher price tickets love that booking fees are capped at £5,” Rodrigo says.
He continues: “Any ticket organiser can use Ticketpass.org and get access to their own secondary market. It means you can sell more tickets as customers know that they will be able to resell the ticket if they can’t go to the event. It’s one click and no hassle and it’s a gamechanger for many event organisers.
“Our ‘Give back 50’ gets a lot of positive feedback too. Giving away half of our revenue is a big statement – and there’s no extra cost to the organiser. Charities can also nominate themselves, so they can get 50% of their fees back.”
As a recognised social enterprise, the need to balance the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit is always present in Rodrigo’s thoughts, but he admits it can be difficult to measure the company’s true impact because of the way it operates through its partnership with Global Giving.
“We don’t just help one charity – we partner with Global Giving that allows organisations to select any charity that they like, or they have a relationship with already. Or we allow their attendees to choose for themselves. So for a festival with 50,000 people, you could have everyone choose a different charity from the platform. So, that’s 50,000 donations all around the world, which makes it hard to track the impact.
“At the moment we track the number of donations made, the revenue amount, number of tickets sold, projects and countries.”
Rodrigo acknowledges that building a team and being a new founder of a challenger business, where the market has high expectations, is tough at times.
He has strong support though and is quick to credit his team, investors and advisory board for getting behind the idea and driving the company’s progress.
“As a founder I always try to be humble and learn as much as I can,” he says. “That’s one of the challenges, as I’m on a learning journey, and you have to get around as many people as you can who have been through that journey.”
It’s an exciting time for the team at Ticketpass.org, which is currently working on its livestreaming services to support event organisers with hybrid events.
“You’ll be able to have your hybrid event in one platform and it will all be automated,” Rodrigo enthuses.
“It will allow organisers to sell physical and online tickets in the UK and internationally."
He continues: “The travel required for physical events can be a barrier and also has an environmental impact. The more people can stream then the more revenue there is for the organiser and – through our platform – the more money there is for charities too.”
Giving back is clearly a core value for Rodrigo, who also finds time to give talks to start-up founders.
“It can be a tough journey, especially as a solopreneur,” he reflects. “You have great days, bad days, challenges and you have to wear multiple hats.
“If it’s your first venture, you often don’t know where to start, and so it can be easy to make mistakes.
“If I can save them even one trip up, it might be one or two years of their life versus two to three months if they’d taken another route.”
Rodrigo says that most of the advice he gives to new, purpose-led entrepreneurs is to ensure they are asking themselves core questions:
“Do people want what you’re building, is it actually solving a problem and are there are lots of people with that problem?” he explains. “Then ask yourself are people willing to pay for it? It might be a problem you’re solving, but if they’re not willing to pay for it, then you don’t have a business and you’ll struggle to raise money and to sustain and build revenue.
“Finally, ask how committed are you? It won’t be an easy journey and you will need a lot of resilience and patience, learning how to listen to feedback, and not have any ego. If you don’t, you’ll make a lot of mistakes and get frustrated and give up.”
It’s clear that Rodrigo possesses all these qualities as he has diligently prepared his business for battle with the industry’s heavyweights. As the platform officially launches into the secondary market the industry and investors will be watching with interest to see if it can pack the promised punch and claim victory.
- Ticketpass.org has invested heavily in a test and learn approach through its beta phase, focusing on solving the problems that organisers and attendees face - visit the platform: https://ticketpass.org/
- Privately-owned limited companies can be recognised as social enterprises if they can demonstrate their impact
- Staying humble and open to learning is key for a new entrepreneur
- For more inspiring business journeys, head to UMi’s new platform: https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/
The UK Social Entrepreneur Index is a celebration of social entrepreneurship across the UK.
Open to social entrepreneurs tackling a social or environmental issue at any scale, entrants will act as beacons of inspiration for others to encompass positive social impact.
For more info visit www.socialentsindex.co.uk.