Today, this hot ticket-selling startup released Fanbase, a suite of customer analytics products that founder Andrew Dreskin said is a first of its kind. Venues and event promoters can use Fanbase to identify their top fans and offer them rewards for loyalty.
Dreskin’s claim to fame is “being the first guy to sell tickets on the Internet.” He cofounded a company called TicketWeb, which Ticketmaster bought in 2000. Around 2007, he saw that the main problems in event ticketing were still not being addressed and started building Ticketfly.
Ticketfly does not only sell tickets. Dreskin describes it as a “holistic technical solution” for events and venues. The platform provides events and venues with tools for ticketing, cross-channel marketing, and analytics that serve to streamline operations and drive sales.
“Historically, this industry had a lack of innovation,” Dreskin said during an interview at Ticketfly’s offices. “There were no integrated technical systems, nothing was connected, and there was no understanding of how tickets were bought and sold and who the customers are. We were the first to bring social ticketing and an integrated platform to this industry, and with Fanbase, we are continuing the theme of doing things first.”
The inspiration for Fanbase came from a discovery: that 7 percent of customers drove 30 percent of revenue. Ticketfly saw an opportunity to harness the power of these users by incentivizing their loyalty. The technology behind Fanbase is based on 12 different criteria that generate a ranking for each customer. Factors include how often a customer visits a venue, how much money they spend, their social media following, etc. Venues can adjust the criteria based on their preferences and reward their top users with perks like VIP access, presale tickets, merchandise, and drink tickets.
“Going to live events used to be an anonymous process, even if you went to the same venue 40 times a year,” Dreskin said. “Fanbase is about encouraging top fans to market on behalf of the venues and promoters, this has never been done before in the industry because no other provider has access to this data. We are uniquely positioned to do this because we power all the technology for our clients. The industry is yearning for next-generation tools, and Fanbase is a great example of that.”
Fifty venues and promoters used Fanbase during beta testing and the feedback was “overwhelmingly positive.” Ninety-two percent of the clients said they would use Fanbase multiple times a week, and email sent with Fanbase offers to fans were twice as likely to be opened.
Dreskin told me to imagine that my favorite local venue offered me a VIP table for an upcoming show or gave me early access to shows that I might like. What’s not to like?
“It would be disingenuous to say that people solely buy tickets because they like a venue,” he said. “Of course the driver is the artist, but we are seeing more and more that people are developing great affinities for venues and promoters. If it’s a band they kind of like at a venue they love, they will go, and when they walk through the for, they are no longer a nameless, faceless person.”
Since launching in 2008, TicketFly has grown to 105 employees and 1,100 clients. Last year, the site sold tickets to 26,000 events and revenue growth continues to accelerate. Every 90 days, Ticketfly signs agreements to sell a million new tickets, and Dreskin projects it will do 250 million of gross transaction volume in 2013.
Ticketmaster is the startup’s main competitor, but Dreskin said it has major issues with technology and customer relations, not to mention alienating promoters by merging with event promoter Live Nation. Today’s releae is the first iteration of Fanbase and the platform will evolve over time as more people use it.
Ticketfly has raised $37 million in venture capital and is based in San Francisco.