Ritesh Patel has been awake for nearly 24 hours when he answers the phone. It’s fast approaching 2am in London, but he’s still hard at work.
It’s been a big week for the co-founder of events marketing and analytics platform The Ticket Fairy, after pitching at the renowned Y Combinator Demo Day early last week and then almost immediately hopping on a plane to the UK.
The YC pitch is prestigious and highly valuable, regarded as one of the most important pitches a startup will ever do, with most of the biggest investors in the world present.
Two and a half minutes to shine
Patel says a whole lot of work goes into those brief 150 seconds on stage.
“You consult with YC for two weeks prior to demo day to focus it and narrow down the content,” he says.
“You go through geometrics and the key points you think will resonate with the audience – to not confuse them but have them wanting to ask more.”
Despite having delivered innumerable pitches before this, Patel admits he was “super nervous” beforehand, but says the YC team does everything they can to make the entrepreneurs feel relaxed.
“When you’re about to go on stage they prep you, put their hands on your shoulders and say ‘this is how you’ll walk up on stage’,” he says.
“They make you feel like you’re the centre of attention at all times and not just a number.”
Incentivising ticket sales
The Ticket Fairy aims to reduce the risks involved in promoting an event and increase ticket sales through incentivising word-of-mouth transactions and automated ad campaigns.
Patel knows these risks all too well, having run over 400 events since 2000. He says he once lost the equivalent of a year’s rent on just one event.
The Sydney-founded San Francisco-based startup is a ticketing, marketing and rewards system that Patel says can increase revenue by 15-25% through incentivising word-of-mouth sales and creating intelligently automated advertising campaigns using a host of demographical data.
“Our business is really complex, but we get pigeon-holed into the likes of Moshtix,” Patel says.
“What we actually are is a full service marketing company and data platform that happens to have an ecommerce front-end.”
There are four main aspects to the business model. Referral marketing involves incentivising people to convince their friends to also buy tickets to an event by giving them a monetary reward.
The service also collects demographical data on the customers, and tracks where each purchase is originating from in order to spend marketing money most efficiently.
It also offers to run an entire ad campaign for a promoter, utilising the range of information it has to allocate the money in different channels.
The Ticket Fairy was able to boast some impressive stats in the pitch as well, with $3.3 million in ticket sales, $1 million in Q2 already, and $200,000 in just the last week.
For every $1 a promoter is spending on rewards through the platform, $30 in additional revenue is generated.
“Nowhere else can they get this return on investment,” Patel says.
The Ticket Fairy takes a 5% commission on sales, and with a $50 billion global market there’s huge room for growth.
The back story
The startup was founded in Sydney in November 2011, but only really started to get off the ground last year.
“Almost all of the traction has been since June last year. The last 13 months have been when the business has taken off,” Patel says.
It has received $605,000 in investments , including from Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as the startup looks to incorporate eSports into its offerings.
Although the last week has been non-stop for Patel and he’s often found himself working long into the night, things are set to get even busier.
The startup is still delving through emails they received following a TechCrunch article earlier this month, and a lot investor interest following the YC pitch.
“The next few months are really big,” Patel says.
“You can see everything take shape, and you need another 36 hours in a day to take care of it. It focuses your brain.”
As the conversation ends it’s nearing 2.30am, but Patel says he isn’t about to get some much-needed rest. He’ll be going straight back to work.