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Not-for-profit startup Humanitix lands “phenomenal” partnership with Facebook

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Humanitix Google Impact Challenge

Humanitix co-founders Adam McCurdie (third from left) and Joshua Ross (second from right). Source: supplied.

Aussie not-for-profit ticketing platform Humanitix has partnered with Facebook to offer users an easy fix for promoting and driving engagement on the platform as soon as ticket sales are live.

The startup is now integrated as an events ticketing partner with the Silicon Valley social media giant, meaning users setting up events through Humanitix can simultaneously launch them on Facebook, without having to create another event.

Founded in 2016 by co-chiefs Josh Ross and Adam McCurdie, Humanitix is a ticketing platform that directs 100% of profits from booking fees to a range of education programs.

In November last year, it was one of four Aussie startups to secure $1 million in grant funding from Google, as part of the tech giant’s Global Impact Challenge.

Since then, it’s expanded into New Zealand, and has seen an uptick in the number of events issuing tickets through the platform.

“We’ve now been having thousands of events switching over from other ticketing platforms to Humanitix,” McCurdie tells StartupSmart.

Over the past 12 months, the startup has generated almost $400,000 in booking fees for its programs.

While he doesn’t disclose exact figures, the founder says the startup is recording growth “in the order of 400% to 500%, which is really exciting”.

The team has also been working on improving the technology, and has therefore been able to support bigger, more sophisticated events.

For example, it’s working with startup conferences, including the SingularityU Australia Summit in Sydney last week and Spark Festival 2019.

“At the end of the day, we have to provide an amazing platform to organisers otherwise they won’t use our product,” McCurdie explains.

“That’s when you’re able to redistribute many, many more booking fees to education projects.”

An obvious synergy

Securing a partnership with Facebook is a “phenomenal” win for Humanitix, McCurdie says.

The founders were finding that a lot of the organisers using the platform for ticketing were also using Facebook to promote their event, and generate buzz and engagement around it.

“It’s that crossover that really made a lot of sense.”

The idea was to make it as easy as possible for organisers to promote their events too.

“That’s the core of it … the number of organisers that would see value in that.”

But, while all the components fit together seemingly seamlessly, it was still a lengthy process to get the deal signed off.

“It’s probably close to a year of talking with FB, and letting them know who we are and them getting a better understanding of who we are and what we do, and what our mission is.”

Even though the Facebook staff members they have been dealing with loved what the startup does, it was still a journey to “get them seeing the logical fit there”.

And so, for other startups trying to secure big-ticket partnerships, there is, alas, no silver bullet.

“It’s working out a way that’s logical for both parties,” McCurdie says.

“With Facebook, obviously they’re very incentivised and love our purpose model in the education space,” he explains.

But at the same time, the deal made sense, because Facebook is all about driving engagement and community.

“Events are a way to bring people together … there’s just an obvious synergy there,” McCurdie adds.

“It’s not just that the other side likes what you’re doing. It’s also that it’s a logical fit for what they’re trying to do and their mission.”

Pick up the phone

But building relationships is just as important in everyday startup life as it is when you’re trying to cement a partnership.

“Don’t be afraid to speak to your customers,” McCurdie advises.

“All day every day we’re speaking to our event organisers and potential event organisers,” he explains.

That allows the co-founders to glean real insights into what they like, what they want, and what could potentially make their lives easier.

“You can’t just purely rely on site analytics or the data on your website to suggest what people might like or want,” the founder says.

“That’s very valuable, and worth investing in … but there’s also tremendous value in just simply picking up the phone and chatting to the people that use your product.”

In startups especially, “your data’s probably quite lumpy anyway” he adds.

At the same time, Humanitix has been getting involved in the startup community, both in Sydney and on a national scale.

“It’s just amazing to see the community grow and flourish more and more,” McCurdie says.

And, with startup conferences and the likes of Fishburners using Humanitix for their own ticketed events, the founders are getting their product in front of like-minded entrepreneurs.

“It’s just awesome to see that collaboration,” he adds.

“It’s a nice way to try to get everyone trying each other’s stuff, and getting feedback really quickly.”

At the same time, that’s the most valuable customer feedback of all. These are founders who are also trying to build their own products, and so the feedback is likely to be honest, and above all helpful.

“It’s quite a keen eye to have a look over your stuff.”

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].

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