In early 2004 Simon Wilsher, Gavin Davidson and Alexander McLauchlan were all directors of Source Insurance Ltd - a leading producer of insurance comparison sites. All three were also involved with theatre and the arts in one capacity or another and one day the conversation turned to the limited options for online ticketing. There were already a range of subscription-based online box office solutions available but they were expensive and the free packages of the day were not much more than online shopping baskets. To set up and modify event listings typically required that users request changes to be made by the system provider via their call centre or by email and they would then have to wait for those requests to be actioned. So the idea was born to use the same technologies that they were already applying to the insurance industry to create a free, self-service ticketing system that would give users full and instant control of their events online 24/7 while rivalling the leading paid-for box office software in functionality and fully integrating in-house and online bookings.

Our main challenges when starting the business

When TicketSource launched back in 2004, persuading event organisers to move to an online box office management system with online ticket sales took time and patience but the proof was in the pudding and over the first three years the company grew steadily mainly due to word of mouth and recommendations by current users. Since then, the development team has successfully maintained a technical advantage by adopting new cloud-based technologies to transform that box office system into a multi-platform event marketing and audience management system. With the world of technology moving forward at such a pace, developers are constantly creating new features to complement existing services to ensure there is a dynamic product that evolves with the times.

Success Factor

One of the key factors for its rapid growth has been down to word of mouth referral by existing users. In the early years, the firm had few resources to put towards marketing but found that the business was growing organically through recommendation. The introduction of a referral scheme continued to boost growth and also provided existing clients with a reward for introducing new business. The founders have always encouraged staff to participate in the development of the product and service by having an open environment whereby any member of staff can make a suggestion for a new feature or system improvement. Having an engaged and invested team of staff has provided the whole team with a sense of ownership and feel part of the TicketSource success. Its in-house Development team proactively keep abreast of new and emerging technologies and how they may impact the ticketing industry in the near and more distant future.

The Future

In April 2017 TicketSource moved to new, larger premises, having outgrown its previous offices. The additional space will enable the team to expand significantly to support continued growth. As well as adding to its software engineering, business development and customer service resources, Ticketsource is investing in raising brand profile and has doubled its digital marketing budget and also took its first steps into brand sponsorship. It is now three years since TicketSource launched in North America and it has enjoyed steady organic growth there although over the next five years, it aims to build on that with targeted marketing to expand the user base in a number of strategically significant US cities, hopefully setting it on a path to matching the success that it has achieved in the UK. More importantly, as the shift from e-commerce to m-commerce gains pace, Ticketsource will continue to build its expertise in the most relevant new technologies to ensure that it is well-positioned to continue its current rate of growth over the next five years, and beyond.