Online platform Peatix reinvents event ticketing

Since its launch in Singapore in July 2013, global online ticketing platform, Peatix, has gone on to reinvent event ticketing, with patent- pending mobile technology and an innovative business model that is not reliant on ticket buyer booking fees.

Set up in Tokyo in 2011 by four partners, Peatix, which set out to create a holistic mobile solution for event organisers from the planning phase all the way to the execution stage, now hosts over 250 active events in Singapore at any time.

"We aim to be the most user-friendly ticketing platform and we have been improving our user experience. You can now create a Peatix page to start selling tickets within minutes from your mobile device.

We have also developed event discovery and recommendation features that now drive more than 10 per cent of ticket sales.

These are basically additional ticket sales brought to event organisers without requiring their efforts," says one of Peatix's co-founders, Emi Takemura, who is now the chief marketing officer and head of Asia.

And this is where having a breadth of 250 active events in Singapore alone powers the company's marketing reach, enabling it to drive additional ticket sales with event recommendation and discovery technology, she notes.

To date, Peatix has sold more than 1.2 million tickets from over 50,000 events.

Event organisers using Peatix include TEDx, Amazon Web Services, The Necessary Stage, Ku De Ta, and individuals organising emerging independent events like the world's first outdoor sports and music event, The Adult Playground at Sentosa last year, and workshops by Singapore's urban farming champions Edible Gardens.

It has also ticketed a series of community-driven programming events, BrooklynJS in New York City.

Gateway cities

While Peatix has expanded globally, it has a local presence in Singapore and New York City. These two cities function as gateways to South-east Asia and the United States, says Ms Takemura.

"Both locations are brimming with activity - innovative events are emerging all the time ... (They) are perfect starting points for our mission - to enable independent organisers in their passionate pursuits of building communities around events."

Peatix's attraction lies in its affordability, and also user-friendliness. For free events, for instance, no charge is levelled on event organisers. For paid events, the charge is 2.9 per cent plus S$0.99 per transaction.

It also offers event organisers direct control. Using the app, organisers can see their sales information in real time and edit their pages at any time they want. Organisers can also request permission and information from ticket buyers directly, thus owning that data for future marketing purposes.

It has an equally user-friendly customer-facing front. Says Ms Takemura: "All our pages are built for your mobile screen and allow you to buy tickets any time, anywhere. Our free mobile app for ticket buyers not only stores your tickets, it includes information such as a map to help you navigate to the venue. Unlike traditional giants, Peatix is developed for the mobile generation." Another factor that makes Peatix stand out from the competition is that it is fuelled by its strong emphasis on having a localised approach to community building.

"Our Singapore-based team supports our ticket buyers and organisers with ground-up knowledge in everything from marketing best practices to solving operational hiccups. We also run community events to help organisers reach their next level," says Ms Takemura.

One of these events, Backstage Pass, is a community event for event organisers and others involved in event creation. The networking sessions - nine have been organised thus far - feature a roster of speakers including Khee Shihui of OH! Open House, Mylinh Cheung of Epic PR, and Jonathan Kwan of Audacity.

These "battle stories" from independent organisers who grew their event from the ground up, are one of the most popular sessions, says Ms Takemura.

"We go beyond being a transactional or online ticketing platform. Our users encounter our familiar faces at events - whether as attendees, organisers or just helping out. By sticking so close to our users, we learn about their pain points and address issues in a tight feedback loop, using our technology," she says.

Peatix is also looking at new ways to redefine the ticketing experience.

One of the new solutions it is rolling out is ColorSync, which employs colour patterns instead of traditional tickets or even QR codes to allow entry to events. Using ColorSync, event organisers simply need to open their Peatix app when it's time to check attendees in. If the guest's phone is flashing the same colour sequence, they have a valid ticket.

Having supported event check-ins since Day One and learning about the at-door experience first-hand, Peatix CEO Taku Harada noticed that there was often a hold-up at the door because it takes time to verify tickets. He hence worked with the development team to roll out ColorSync.

"There are layers of security built into ColorSync," says Ms Takemura. "Each event has a unique colour pattern that is activated by the event's location and time. Each ticket is also associated with the buyer that can be verified at the door."

She adds: "We are currently at the 'alpha' phase and have invited a group of selected organisers to refine it with us. We plan to announce a public 'beta' release soon."

Strategic investor

The journey does not end here. Peatix last Tuesday announced that it had, as part of its second round of funding, received a US$5 million investment from strategic investor SPH Media Fund, the corporate venture fund of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd; lead investor DG Incubation, the investment subsidiary of Digital Garage; and Japanese media company Sunny Side Up Inc.

Existing investors from the Series A round, Fidelity Growth Partners Japan and Draper Nexus, also participated in the round.

Says Ms Takemura: "We are investing our second round of funding in three areas: doubling down on our mobile and event discovery technology, enhancing our sponsorship model and establishing a local presence in new markets.

"We will make it even easier for organisers to manage events on the go and for attendees to explore events tailored to their interests. We will build on our initial successes of connecting sponsors emotionally with attendees of relevant events with better online features. The additional income helps organisers with their budgets too - it is a win-win for all!"

It is also looking to expand its presence. Peatix can, at this moment, be used in 26 countries , including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam within South-east Asia.

"We have plans to expand our local presence in these countries, starting from Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur this April," says Ms Takemura.

Adds SPH Media Fund's chief executive officer, Chua Boon Ping: "We identify with Peatix's vision to build communities around events and believe in the ability of the founders and their team to scale this platform across various markets.

At the same time, SPH also has business units in events and there are direct synergies and possible opportunities for collaboration in the future."

This article was first published on March 17, 2015.
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