Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Brian Fenty, CEO at TodayTix.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
The TodayTix story begins 20 years ago, when I met my friend and TodayTix Co-Founder Merritt Baer at theater camp. We immediately bonded over our love of acting and the unforgettable experience of live theater. In the years that followed, my professional career shifted to entrepreneurial investing, but my passion for the arts remained. Ultimately, we became some of the youngest Broadway producers in history, and Merritt even won a Tony Award!
As producers and arts consumers, we noticed troubling trends in the industry – aging demographics, poor user experience and exceptionally high ticketing fees. We reversed those trends by making the ticket-buying process personalized, mobile and easy, with an accessible price. We built TodayTix to deliver seamless technology, targeting more Millennials and new generations of arts goers.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We’ve always been advocates of both arts organizations, and audiences, and seek to answer their needs. We listen to both of these groups and build products for them. If an organization is struggling to bring younger audiences to their theaters, TodayTix offers a mobile-first, quick and painless ticketing process. Oftentimes venue teams don’t have the bandwidth or budget to deliver fully-integrated technology with social connectivity, industry-leading payments infrastructure, and round-the-clock customer service. We have a young, passionate team that operates at the cutting-edge of technology, the arts and nightlife, and who knows what their peers want to see. We find ways to offer an unforgettable experience at the best price possible, all in just a few taps.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
When TodayTix launched, theater ticketing was an opaque and technologically unfriendly industry. Producers were terrified of discounts, and consumers perceived theater as expensive and inaccessible. In fact, the only discounted prices for consumers required standing in long lines for less desirable seats or scouring private discount sites. TodayTix uses social connectivity, seamless user experience, and a modern approach to customer service to connect producers and audiences in meaningful and evolving ways.
TodayTix’s Access Programs have allowed shows around the world to conduct digital Rush and Lottery ticketing programs through the platform. These programs not only bring new audiences to theaters, but also, they encourage engagement on social media channels and create organic word-of-mouth promotions. To date, more than 700 shows use the technology, generating more than 260 million social media impressions.
Additionally, through exclusive programming, like the TodayTix Presents concert series and podcasting channels, TodayTix has moved from simply ticketing shows to creating them, offering audiences custom content catered to what they’re looking for and rounding out the live experience landscape to truly offer something for everyone.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
TodayTix itself was founded in the face of adversity, as a technology company working to bring the arts industry into the mobile ticketing world. In 2013, at the very beginning of the mobile revolution, we were attempting to break down the walls of Broadway, the most traditional entertainment market. With each door shut, the team redoubled and expanded its offering, pioneering iconic mobile lotteries and rush programs used by international hit shows like “Hamilton” and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” developing world-class mobile ticketing products.
We have worked vigorously to redefine the word “theater” for an entire generation of consumers. To date, TodayTix is used by more than 1,200 arts institutions around the world, driven to bring in a new, younger customer through their doors.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Besides TodayTix, of course, the application I couldn’t live without is OpenTable. With TodayTix operating in fourteen cities, a lot of my life is spent bouncing between airports, theatres and global venues. This is my one-stop shop for a great evening out with colleagues, friends, or family.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
There are two. The first is not to “put good money after bad.” Basically, empower your teams to explore and create, but don’t double down on a failing strategy. It wastes time and capital.
The second is from the restauranteur Danny Meyer, who always said, “You get to choose who sits at your dinner table.” In other words: be selective, deliberate and confident in the people you surround yourself with. Be inspired. Be challenged. But don’t waste time with people who bring down the energy and output of your best people.
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