At just age 23, Joshua Dziabiak can already call himself a serial entrepreneur. Before his eighteenth birthday, he pocketed $1 million from the sale of his first company, a website hosting and design firm called MediaCatch. Although his next venture, an online record label, was short-lived, it sparked the idea for his current company, ShowClix, which runs a ticket-selling platform used by customers such as CBS Radio and Heineken.
While running his record label, Dziabiak noticed how costly it was for independent artists and small venues to manage ticket sales. His attention turned to the idea of a more affordable service that eliminated the need to ship paper tickets. But before embarking upon a third venture, Dziabiak decided he needed to gain experience as an employee. “I wanted to be a fly on the wall and see how someone else did things,” he says. In 2006, he joined the Pittsburgh office of Spreadshirt, a personalized apparel site. There, he says, he learned valuable lessons in managing big projects and tailoring marketing campaigns to different sets of customers. He also met his co-founder, Lynsie Camuso, 33, with whom he launched ShowClix in March 2007.
Since then, ShowClix has gained some 1,000 customers and delivered more than 1 million tickets. The company sets itself apart by delivering tickets by e-mail or by text message, and by offering its customers access to real-time sales reports. Earlier this year, the business debuted an app that enables venues to scan tickets on customers’ phones with any Android-powered device. ShowClix charges venues between 7 and 15 percent of ticket sales—a much lower fee, Dziabiak says, than that of any of its competitors, including Ticketmaster.
In fact, Dziabiak has already taken aim at the event industry’s reigning giant. When Ticketmaster merged with the promotion company Live Nation, it created a conflict of interest for promoters who used Ticketmaster’s services. In response, ShowClix created the Fair Ticketing Fund, which offers a cash incentive to departing Ticketmaster customers. The fund, which drew coverage on CNBC.com and TechCrunch, has since won the company exclusive contracts with five promoters, including Joker Productions in Pittsburgh and the Opera Nightclub in Atlanta, and it continues to attract inquiries. “We’re really trying to position ourselves as the fair, innovative alternative to Ticketmaster,” Dziabiak says.