Breathing New Life into Event Ticketing
Breathing New Life into Event Ticketing
In 2008, budding entrepreneurs and Victoria University students, Nick Schembri and Chris Smith were managing Orientation Week parties and university social events, when they had the idea that would have them paving the way forward for entertainment ticketing.
Nick and Chris saw the need for an easy to use, affordable ticketing service. With no funding to use an established ticketing platform, they were challenged by Victoria University to come up with their own ticketing system. After dedicating the summer of 08/09 to development, Orientation week in March 09 marked the debut of Dash Tickets with a beta version managing ticketing for all university events.
Through 2009 Dash Tickets was working well for university events and having set up an advisory board it was time to start thinking of next steps. “We were working from our apartment in Wellington and we realised we had to make a decision about the future of Dash” Say Nick Schembri. “A member of our advisory board had suggested we contact business incubator Creative HQ and make a decision whether Dash was going to evolve into a full time business or remain just a hobby.”
After weighing up the options and taking a good look at the potential of the business they had created, Nick and Chris became serious about turning their fun university project into a fully-fledged business. “We made the decision to give it a shot and we were accepted into Creative HQ in January 2010. The 18 months we were there really helped us grow as a business. We sorted out our business plan and our financial structure” says Nick “It was a hard time to set up a business with the global financial crisis; it made it extra hard to get investment.”
2011 proved to be a huge year full of changes for Dash, Nick bought Chris out of the company in April and in October Dash graduated from Creative HQ. Dash then secured an impressive six-figure capital investment from the founders of Ministry of Sound Australia who bought half of the company, allowing Dash to make its mark in Australia.
“Ministry of Sound are the biggest record label in Australia and New Zealand, this was a huge deal for us” says Nick “This has really set the scene for us to launch into the Australian market. The volumes are much higher in Australia; it’s just on a far larger scale than New Zealand. We’re making some great headway in New Zealand that we can use as case studies when pitching to Australian clients. And we now have our first full time person in Australia, working from the Ministry of Sound offices” Says Nick.
Dash Tickets have recently landed one of their biggest events yet – the Ellerslie Flower show. With the average age of the attendee being over 45, Dash is breaking into a different and important demographic. “This shows that we aren’t just a youth focussed tech company” says Nick, “We’re putting the customer first and a big part of that is a user-friendly interface”.
So what makes Dash Tickets different from the other larger ticketing companies? “We only charge one booking fee and it’s up to the provider to choose whether this is an inside fee or if they pass it on to the customer to pay when purchasing tickets. Other ticketing companies charge both fees so the customer will always pay a booking fee” says Nick. “We’re an online company, we don’t send physical tickets, it’s all done by email. But we do have a support line where people can call”.
Nick is passionate about customer service and believes it is customer orientated businesses that will succeed in the end. “To be a customer focussed company is so important and something we really pride ourselves on. You need to be more than just a great tech company; you need good customer service, great account management and a great team. People forget about the technology, it might be where your competitive advantage lies, but without customer service it’s very hard to succeed.”
Ensuring a business seeks help and advice from somewhere is something Nick feels is essential to a successful endeavour. “Getting help and advice early is the best advice I can give to any new business. The Creative HQ programme helps you think about every aspect of your business, including those that you would never have thought of! If you are going to make mistakes – and you will - it’s better to make them early on so they aren’t repeated down the track. You can then reap the rewards later when you have your plans and processes down.”
Grow Wellington’s Business Growth Manager Karen Bender has been working with Dash Tickets for a year now “Karen’s been great! She has helped us with accessing capability vouchers and funding through TechNZ. It’s great to have her to go to, she’s a great sounding board” says Nick. “I would always recommend Grow Wellington and Creative HQ to any business. It doesn’t matter what size you are and what training and support you may need, they can help businesses at all stages”.
With what started out as a fun summer project, has turned into an up and coming industry leader in entertainment ticketing, with a unique approach to sales and customer service. Now with offices in both Wellington and Australia, Dash tickets are set to revolutionise the way we buy tickets online.
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