If you want to buy event tickets, you probably head straight for an online purchasing portal like Ticketmaster or Eventbrite. But first you need to be aware that an event is even taking place.
Ticketmaster and Eventbrite are the heavy hitters for ticket sales, but this competitive space is not intimidating to Lucas McCarthy, founder and CEO of Showpass. Showpass is a Calgary-based event management and ticket purchasing platform, who opened their proverbial door with their first online ticket sale in June 2014. They are now the only Canadian company to partner with Facebook (and the fourth in the world) to allow users to purchase tickets right on the social media platform without having to navigate to a third-party app or site.
“Our goal,” McCarthy explains, “is to broaden awareness of events by creating many distribution channels. People can make purchases anywhere and anytime. Online or offline, through the Showpass website or the sites of our customers; it’s the range of distribution channels that will increase our customer’s sales by 15-20 per cent.”
Showpass provides a curated list of events aggregated through data from customers’ likes, social networks and the purchasing behaviours of similar customers - making events easy to find (and buy). These customized event lists, along with a seamless checkout system, makes ticket purchasing faster and easier than ever. McCarthy explains, “We focused on the technology and mobile-first strategy. People are constantly on their phones. That is where the sell should happen.”
What Showpass made up for in tech know-how and an unrelenting industrious perseverance initially, they lacked in funding. What they needed was an investor, so they turned to the energy sector and found investor and mentor Paul O’Donoghue, now chairman of Showpass.
Having more than twenty years in the oil and gas industry, O’Donoghue became intrigued after meeting with McCarthy. “I knew we were onto something,” he said, “my investment came from knowledge around corporate matters and issues, and financing. We look forward to doubling and or even tripling the company’s revenue in the next year or two. By bringing in some high net worth Calgarian shareholders, and money from the Business Development Bank of Canada, we have solidified the foundation of this platform, which has ramped up the potential revenue capabilities.”
Showpass is now part of a flourishing tech sector in Calgary and it is on a strong growth path which will feed into Calgary’s economic diversification. “We have consistently grown between three and five times every year since we started,” McCarthy said.
Showpass has 35 employees across their Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver offices, and is expected to double their staff count and move into new countries in 2018. They recently have received additional funding for an undisclosed amount.