I had the opportunity of speaking with Hennadiy Netyaha, founder of TicketForEvent over the holidays. TicketForEvent is an online registration & e-ticketing service for event organisers. This is a transcript of our conversation.
Hi Hennadiy, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Hello, I’m fine thank you Joseph, and I’m doing great. I’m just looking forward to starting the new season with our team.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m Ukrainian by origin. I got into the event industry a long ago – more than 15 years ago, and this same market still gets me excited up till this very day. It’s very dynamic especially the IT part, as in any market now which gives me the opportunity to learn new things constantly.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
As I mentioned, the event industry had become part of my life for 15 years now. I started working as an employee and I’ve gradually gone to create a series of successful event businesses including a well-known ExpoPromoter. And since then I’ve been very involved in IT services for event organisers.
How did the idea for TicketForEvent come about?
It came up following requests from ExpoPromoter customers to provide them with a service for ticket sales. After doing some polls among event organisers, studying the competitors and ticketing market we figured out the concept and understood where we should concentrate to win best market share.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
During the early days, as usual, the hardest part was winning our first big client. Once you do it, you’re likely to go on with sales more effectively. Luckily, we skipped the problem of barrier against an unknown product due to ExpoPromoter’s customers. But I have to admit Joseph, the main difficulty on the way to grow the TicketForEvent’s turnover was the fact that local event organisers are inactive in using innovative solutions in their work. But now the ice is broken.
What is TicketForEvent and what are you trying to solve with it?
TicketForEvent is an e-ticketing solution for event organisers which are adapted for the needs of Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian market. The service aggregates all possible local payment methods, in addition to international ones, and provides full accounting support. The latter is actually one of the main difficulties that any meets in these markets.
How have you been able to fund it?
Investors always want to see good current results and understand the perspective. Only after you show the results and what you worth, you receive propositions.We did it and thus raised the money.
How were you able to convince such amazing investors to invest in your company?
I am no supporter of convincing. I like the strategy that you create the product which is of an interest to the investor. And this is how it worked with Abele Ventures too. We had a couple of funding offers but we’ve never been in a hurry to raise investments. Abele Ventures had an appropriate offer in the right time. Anyway, I prefer choosing to being chosen.
What advices can you give to startup founders looking to raise money for their companies?
My main advice – don’t be in a hurry. I know that raising investments ASAP is the aim for any startup founder but you have to understand that in the early stages of development you are likely to raise less, than you could a slightly later. So be patient and wait for YOUR investor. Don’t convince yourself that the first investor who is interested in your startup is the last the last one in your life.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
The most crucial thing was to concentrate within the CIS market and enter the Turkish market so far. We received the possibility to win the best market share for TicketForEvent and become a leader in the segment.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
My greatest achievement is selling a couple of projects including Décor & Gifts exhibition brand. I consider it to be highlight – not even the funding. You know, raising investments obligates you and means that you will have to work even harder.
What should be expecting from yourself and TicketForEvent for next year?
The money we have raised will help us quickly expand the service, develop new features and move into new lucrative markets. Our near-term plans are to cover the markets of Eastern Europe. After that, in about year, we will go on expanding to conquer the rest of the European countries.
At the moment we already have customers in the UK, Austria, The Netherlands, Germany, and even in the USA. Of course, we take into account the rapid development of technologies and we have some plans to go mobile. We are developing mobile apps and of course plan to be part of Apple's Passbook.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
I’ll give you the three pieces that are applicable to starting any business any time.
Firstly, be patient. Never expect the result to come at once and take your time to find an investor – give yourself the possibility to choose. If you have a business successful enough, the later you attract investors, the better.
Secondly, be flexible. Get ready to make compromise. Rapid development of the markets, requests from your customers, as well as your investor’s vision, are the main factors to effect the development of your product.
Thirdly, be fanatical. You have to understand every detail of the market. Use every possibility to ask feedbacks from your customers and market professionals before you start your business. To be successful you have to be obsessed with your business idea. If you think about the growth 24/7 and look for every possibility to develop the business – you will definitely succeed in it. Money and future income are not the right things to focus on.