Among the litany of ticketing websites, Austin-based Ticketbud has emerged as the favored, philanthropic underdog: They charge a flat setup fee and don't take any of the profits, charging nothing to use their interface for free events. And for events raising funds for cancer, they waive their fees.
L Style G Style publisher Lynn Yeldell stepped into the CEO position last fall and the company entered 2013 reporting record revenue. CultureMap spoke with Yeldell about her new role, Ticketbud's presence at SXSW and the Austin startup community.
CultureMap: How did your move into the CEO position come about?
Lynn Yeldell: I’ve held about every seat there is to be had at the company. I was a [Ticketbud] attendee back in 2011 when I bought a ticket through the platform. It was super easy and I enjoyed the experience. And the ticket price of the purchase was actually the same price that I paid at the checkout. We’ve all become accustomed to, "Oh, the ticket price is 50 bucks, but how much are fees and all this other stuff?" I made a mental note of that.
My partner and I founded L Style G Style magazine in 2007 and we’ve always been looking for a platform that would be good to host events and were introduced to Ticketbud. We’d been using some other companies and just got frustrated — they were kind of difficult to use and not user-friendly and we kept giving up about $1 to $10 of every ticket that we purchased to the ticketing company, and for personal organizers like us, that’s a big deal. It makes it hard to predict your revenue stream.
So finally, we found out Ticketbud was opening up its round for series A funding and we jumped at the chance. We wrote a check and joined in January of 2012 as investors to the company. I sat on the board of managers for a while and as [we] were looking to restructure and figure out how we were going to grow the company, the board and the investors asked me to take a leadership position and I joined on in October as the CEO.
CM: So you’ve done it all.
LY: I’ve done it all! I’ve taken out the recycling and organized events and attended events.
CM: What’s happening with L Style G Style now?
LY: My partner has always been the one that’s run the day to day operations and that’s still true today.
CM: So how is Ticketbud handling SXSW?
LY: For us, one of the reasons I took particular interest in Ticketbud is that when I joined the board we were running about 400, getting close to 500, events a month on the platform. And now we're getting up to 600 events and the majority of that has been through referrals. People who have attended a Ticketbud event liked it and want to use it for their own organization. You can’t substitute the power of a great referral.
We’ve not really done anything before, but this year we’ve realized that the space is pretty competitive for groups to organize events, but ours is the only model out there that has the flat rate to distinguish ourselves from a crowded field.
Eventbrite is clearly the most popular platform for people to use during SXSW — I mean, they’ve got tons of events. But our organizers are a little bit different. They’re not looking for the mass volume — they looking to control their doors and have a better idea of the true numbers of attendees. I’ve seen some of the RSVPs for some of the Eventbrite events and I think that the Startup Crawl had like 16,000 people RSVP and obviously 16,000 people aren’t going to show up.
CM: Austin has become this incubator for startups like Ticketbud. What would you say about startups moving to Austin and them competing in this really competitive market?
LY: Austin is a city of people who are looking to grow their company, who are looking to make a difference and I felt that, and it may sound threatening, but the nature of it is very quid pro quo here. And people are looking to promote their own agenda but they know they’ll only be successful by helping someone else along the way. And I definitely feel like Ticketbud has been a success story of that. Austin startups like to take care of Austin startups and we’ve got some amazing stories here.
To find upcoming events using Ticketbud, visit the website.