Secrets of Success: Ander Michelena

What is your start-up story?
A little bit unusual! My business partner and I were both working at Morgan Stanley in London and getting frustrated at hiding our inner entrepreneurs every day. It was when, purely by chance, we met on a flight returning to England from Spain that we started talking and realised we shared two loves – football and a business challenge. From that chance meeting, we decided to team up and set up a company that enables us, our friends and now millions of people around the globe to access tickets for events, that otherwise they may not be able to attend.

What is your turnover, employee numbers etc. compared to previous years?
We founded the company in Spain in 2010 and now operate in 31 countries around the world. We are the market leader in Southern Europe and Latin America and we also have a local presence in 14 countries such as Spain, México or Hong Kong.

Our turnover for 2013 was 28 million euros and we now employ around 300 staff globally. We started out just the two of us only four years ago, at one of the toughest times for the Spanish, and global, economy so we are very proud of our growth and success.

What products or services do you provide?
What we have built is an online platform where anyone can securely buy or sell tickets for any type of event – music, sport or theatre. Our geographical reach means users can access a wide selection of international events. We currently offer more than one million tickets to events almost anywhere in the world.

What problem does your company solve?
The world of the digital native has made ticket acquisition even easier. With so much information available online, people are more than aware of which events they want to attend and where they are. As such, they are able to buy tickets well in advance of the performance date, often within minutes of becoming available.

And indeed, this is where today’s generation learns first hand about economics and the rules of supply and demand. The secondary market of tickets is becoming a phenomenon all on its own, where the ability to sell tickets to events you can no longer attend matches perfectly against the needs of those who missed the primary market sales but still don’t want to miss their favourite artist or team.

What is your USP?
We firmly believe in giving the consumer and our customers the choice to be able to attend the events they want to. If they love attending Lady Gaga concerts but have for some reason missed out on the ticket sales, which can be completely sold out in a matter of minutes, we offer the opportunity to still buy tickets.

In addition, we can do this across 31 countries to events globally so the amount of choice we offer to people is huge.

Any thoughts on the future of your company?
It’s looking great. We are focused on our expansion and have just opened operations in Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia. There are lots of exciting opportunities in the pipeline. We are constantly focused on improving the experience for our customers and so technical developments on the site are a constant initiative.

Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
Complete transparency. Our buyers and our sellers are consumers who are using the site. Each need each other to be able to complete a transaction and we need both for the marketplace we offer to be able to trade. We need to offer clear advice to both parties and make sure the financial transactions that take place between them are secure and that the product the customer receives is genuine. We have strict procedures in place to make sure this happens such as not releasing funds to the seller until the event. With this system we are able to guarantee each transaction on the side.

Any advice for the Government?
The secondary ticketing market is constantly under attack because there needs to be more education about the valuable service it provides. We do not set the ticket prices on the site – we simply facilitate the sale between someone who has a ticket and someone who wants to buy one. The price the buyer is willing to pay is up to them – quite often the very expensive tickets on the site do not sell but at the end of the day it is at the buyer’s own discretion. People can, and only will, buy and sell the tickets in a clear and transparent marketplace where all the transactions are guarantee.

What is your attitude towards your competitors?
There are many players in the secondary ticketing space. As in any industry, some do this really well and some do not. In our case we know the key to success is the service we provide to our customers. When we all deliver an outstanding service we help our customers – and the service will be perceived as it should: an opportunity for fans to sell tickets for events they are no longer attending and for buyers to attend events for which they have not been able to get tickets.