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Courtesy of FORBES:
The online ticketing industry has been dominated by a small conglomerate of power players that offer ticketing services for events of every scale. Although a shortlist of companies control the space, each owns a niche segment that solidifies their value in the marketplace.
Ticketmaster stands as the leader in ticketing large-scale sports and entertainment events. Merging with Live Nation in 2009 for a reported $2.5 billion, the ticketing giant has evolved to place a greater focus on partnering with global artists, athletes and venues to shape fully immersive entertainment experiences.
In 2015, Live Nation alone sold over 530 million tickets, generating $7.2 billion in revenue. Most recently, Ticketmaster partnered with ticket app Gametime, attempting to reach millennial sports fans. Serving as another secondary marketplace, the app will offer access to the 12,000 teams and venues that use Ticketmaster.
Carving out a lane as the leading global ticket reseller, StubHub represents a hybrid that services a myriad of live events. In 2007, StubHub was acquired by eBay for $310 million. In 2015, the platform attracted over 16 million unique visitors and close to 10 million events each month. In the first quarter of 2016, StubHub saw revenue reach $117 million, marking a 34% rise. from the previous year.
While these primary stakeholders in the U.S. have presumably cornered the global market, few of the top ticketing providers are headquartered abroad, or boast a footprint in untapped international markets that matches their imprint in America. Though a very challenging task, this white space opens a door for emerging international players to step in and climb the ranks.
Founded in India and launched in 2007, Kyazoonga is an online ticketing platform with a mission to make tickets accessible for everyone, anywhere in the world. Standing as India’s first and largest entertainment and sports ticketing company, Kyazoonga is emerging as the fastest-growing international online ticket provider.
Combining the use of proprietary technology to improve the purchasing process with an expanding list of vendor partners and a business model centered around unlocking new markets – Kyazoonga hopes to not only catch the competition, but develop a different approach to growth hacking the industry.
Spending years on Wall Street working as a former media and telecomm investment banker, CEO and Co-Founder Neetu Bhatia is credited with pioneering the entertainment and sports ticketing market in India. With nearly a decade of experience executing strategic advisory and financing, Neetu’s transactions include over $40 billion for Time Warner, Google, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon and AT&T.
I spoke with Neetu about the vision behind her company, disrupting the online ticketing industry, and the challenges of competing globally in a changing market.
With giants like StubHub and Ticketmaster already dominating the space — What void or opportunity inspired the idea for Kyazoonga?
Neetu Bhatia: The idea came to us during the summer of 2006 when we were visiting family back home in India. My brother Akash and I were looking for events to attend and realized there wasn’t a central place to search, find and buy tickets for events in India. At the time, short of opening the morning newspaper, India had no other way of knowing what was playing and where or how to get there. Coming from finance and technology backgrounds, we knew that if we wanted to build a meaningful solution to fill this gap in India’s consumer landscape, it would need to have a solid tech foundation. We decided to create a comprehensive platform to help meet local needs with the goal of expanding quickly to help upgrade the technology for the global events industry. Our mission since the outset has been to democratize access and make getting tickets simple for everyone, everywhere.
What were some of the challenges you faced getting your company off the ground?
Neetu Bhatia: India is an amazing place with a lot of regional diversity. That means every event, every venue, and every vertical has different needs and expectations. This kept us focused on creating a highly versatile platform that could adjust to meet individual client needs. Being an early entrant into the industry also means that there is no blueprint to follow, so it took a lot of communicating with initial clients, fast iteration and innovation to come up with a platform that offered real value. Those challenges have all helped shape and improve our service offerings so that we can provide value to both our clients and their fans. We can scale and customize to serve the needs of the smallest neighborhood event, to one with the size and complexity of the Olympics. We believe these challenges in our early markets have created a massive opportunity for us, as they’ve helped us to solve for scale and complexity that in turn have accelerated our global rollout. It is generally hard for most ticketing companies to service both ends of the ticketing spectrum.
What specifically gives your company a competitive advantage or has allowed continued growth for nearly a decade?
Neetu Bhatia: Market share can be a deceptive number in the events industry. While there are several established players, most of them are very regionally focused. Also, the global events market is growing and is an entirely open field. Kyazoonga was founded on the principle of being able to innovate in diverse environments. As such, providing services in new regions is in our DNA. From the start, we have looked at our ticketing platform as a full-service events platform that can adapt to local needs, which many of our competitors struggle with. Instead of approaching events with a one-size-fits-all solution, we approach every event differently based on the many factors that make it unique. In doing so, we can secure contracts for major events and international competitions, because we have a track record of quick customization, scale and implementation. With our platform, we’ve leapfrogged some of the legacy systems of companies operating in more mature markets of the West, while others in emerging markets have yet to catch up.
You use smart technology to enhance the online search and purchase experience — How does your system work?
Neetu Bhatia: Our system is powered by sophisticated algorithms that allow for the management of the complete inventory through a central ticketing console, where one can make changes as per requirement without disrupting the live sales process while optimizing the demand-supply equation for an event. We have captured several frontiers in ticketing – ranging from online and mobile, to social and paperless. We have even introduced in-venue customer touch-points to facilitate upsells and deeper engagement with fans. We use big data analytics tools and predictive analytics to look for trends in customer behavior and buying patterns. Based on that data, we live cast the ticketing message to customers and potential customers.
Ticketing for large events involves many partnerships and transactions — What makes Kyazoonga a better B2B partner than competitors?
Neetu Bhatia: Ticketing is not just about selling a ticket to the customer, it’s about selling an entire user experience. This is how we view ticketing, and to that end, we are not only a net revenue generator, but we are also about up-selling and realizing additional related revenue streams for our clients. Our emphasis on full-service ticketing is one of the biggest ways that we can help brands increase revenue through events. When event attendees arrive and scan in at an event, we can easily recommend concessions and merchandising options based on their interests and location, which we have found increases their overall spending by significant margins.
How do you see Kyazoonga evolving and impacting the global ticketing industry within the next 3-5 years?
Neetu Bhatia: The introduction of real-time social media engagement and feedback has necessitated that ticketing systems also be real-time and accurately predict the status of demand and supply. As events grow, so does their level of complexity. Large format events involve hundreds of concurrent sessions that need forward ticket sales, access control integration, seat assignments, recycling, exchanges, real-time reporting, rendering of stadium fill-up process, and so forth. Traffic conditions for large events reach peaks that demand scalability of server and cloud infrastructure, accelerated content delivery networks, and the ability to sustain peak demand for limited inventory residing on the database. Kyazoonga continues to be at the forefront of solving for the layered needs of global large-scale events. We are expanding rapidly, partnering with more global events all the time. We want to keep expanding into new regions to provide people with a comprehensive events platform, to the extent that if there is a ticket to be sold anywhere in the world, it will be in our system and fans can both access and purchase it from us.