Former college roommates Brett Goldberg and Christopher O'Brien founded TickPick in 2011--several years after Goldberg started buying and reselling tickets to Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts. Goldberg explains how the New York City-based ticket reseller competes with giants like Ticketmaster and StubHub by embracing guerrilla marketing--sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
--As told to Victoria Finkle:
Review the Competition
When you're trying to grow your business, you'll do anything to drive traffic. That's the name of the game in e-commerce, especially when you have no budget. One thing we did was write online reviews of our competitors on our blog. I have mixed feelings about that--but it's driven tons of traffic for us. And even though I may have been taking someone else's business, I was providing a service for the customers, telling them we had the same tickets for cheaper.
Know When to Give In
When you searched for the name of one of our top competitors, our blog post about it came up number two. Depending on the month, it drove 5 to 10 percent of all our transactions--the blog post itself was getting more than 10,000 views a month. In November 2013, through mutual brokers, this competitor started asking us to take it down. I made the language softer, and I made sure everything in there was fact. It went quiet for a while. But they began bidding on our keyword in Google AdWords: When you searched "TickPick," their ads would show up at the top--so then we needed to outbid them on it. That was costing us thousands of dollars a month. Finally, in April 2014, they asked us directly to take the post down, and said they would stop bidding on our keyword. We took it down that day. It was a really hard decision. We're all competitors, but at the same time, we're in this industry together. You're fighting the bigger beast--that everyone thinks ticket marketplaces are bad.
Consumer sentiment about this industry is not warm and fuzzy. With Hamilton right now, you could be spending $1,000 on a ticket with a face value of $189. But people come back to us because there are no hidden fees and our algorithms really help figure out which tickets to buy. We have a 10 percent commission--you're going to pay what you see, and we're going to pay the seller 10 percent less than the price they set. We also point out seat locations that are good deals--and if it's an obviously bad deal, we're actually hiding those tickets.