An Iowa woman is hoping her new approach to selling tickets for events will catch on across the country. Emma Peterson, an Ankeny native, came up with the idea for the company called Tikly as she manager of the Iowa-based band The Nadas.
“I found myself traveling on the weekends with this band meeting other bands and other venue owners who were equally disappointed with the ticketing companies that were available in the industry and in the market at the time,” Peterson explains.
“And I found that not only did I know that Ticketmaster and buying tickets through those various companies was a bad experience for those ticket buyers — it became immediately clear to me that it was also a bad experience for those who were selling the tickets.”
Peterson sought advice from Ben Milne, the Iowan who has successfully created the money exchange system known as Dwolla. She says they explored all kinds of options before Milne told Peterson she should create something new. “He essentially dared me to start a ticketing company with the understanding that we really had exhausted the research on finding a different solution that makes sense,” Peterson says.
She says she didn’t think she could build the system, but says Milne told her she had the knowledge to do it. Peterson, who graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, then turned to StartupCity, a public/private funded business startup incubator in Des Moines to get Tikly running. Peterson believes her company has several advantages over the current ticket sellers.
“One of which is that we have very low — or I like to call them respectful — service fees that are transparent and predictable. Other ticketing companies, you have to do some degree of algebra to understand what ticketing fees you are going to incur at the end of the day,” Peterson says.
“And that doesn’t feel good to ticket buyers. They don’t like to see the price on the sign, the price at checkout and then the price at the last page before you press confirm when you’ve spent all the time on a process.” Tikly also includes options to buy memorabilia while getting your tickets.
“So if you are buying a ticket to your favorite band’s show, well why not as a band give back to that fan. And why not perhaps even offer the opportunity to buy a limited edition t-shirt or a signed CD that you can put together in advance?,” Peterson asks. “So that increases the revenues of that band or venue owner — keeps that band on the road, puts money in their gas tank — while the fan feels even more like an VIP.”
Not only does it give more options to the fans, Peterson says Tikly also gives more control to those using the service.
“I found as a ticket seller on behalf of The Nadas, that the ticketing companies we were forced to work with before Tikly existed, they misrepresented our brand. They posted incorrect information that we couldn’t get our hands on to change, no matter how many press kits I as a tour manager put together for them. So Tikly puts that experience back in the hand of the people who actually put on the show,” according to Peterson.
Kellie Markey, a Des Moines native who graduated from Central College in Pella, joined Peterson as the chief marketing officer of the company. Markey says another benefit of Tikly is that it is easy to use.
“It’s literally ticket sales for dummies. And I say that in the best way, because literally in 10 minutes — even if you are not tech savvy — which most of our target is — you can have an event live and selling tickets and merchandise in ways that were inconceivable before some of the technology solutions that are available today, and certainly social media, which plays a big part in our ability to help artists sell their tickets,” Markey says.
The target market is small to midsized venues. But Markey says they haven’t limited Tikly to selling music shows. “It really extends to anyone who needs to provide admission to an event of any kind. And so we look at things like R-V shows and quilt shows and class reunions as under sort of the category of events. And that one very large category and a lot of different permutations as to how they actually set up their events, because some of them are free,” Markey says.
“But it gives them the flexibility to set up what works best for them.” Tikly will mark its two-year anniversary in April. Markey says they are looking now to move the growth of the company ahead.
“Right now we are in our series A financing round and trying to raise money, and really feel like we are at the starting line to get some initiatives in place that will really get us traction and become an inflection point,” Markey says, “where we have grown so far by word of mouth and by the efforts that Emma has done at a few trade events and things. To be able to do start doing search-engine marketing and some of the strategic business deals that will really help us grow exponentially.”