Universe was a pretty traditional startup, international director of business development Joe McAuliffe tells EN.
The company is a self-service ticketing platform, originally launched in Toronto by co-founders Benjamin Raffi, Craig Follett and Adam Meghji, and was originally intended to act as a marketplace for almost any goods or services.
“The idea was to create a platform which was more for the sharing model,” explains McAuliffe. “But eventually we realised that most people were using it for events, so we pivoted to focus more on that, and it was around that time that we started to see more and more uptake of the platform.”
Any customer can use Universe to create an event and begin to sell tickets, from a tiny local meet up to a 20,000-strong music festival.
McAuliffe joined the company after one of the co-founders moved to San Francisco, where the company benefitted from close proximity to the city’s many tech entrepreneurs.
“Essentially we were able to grow and tap into the tech ecosystem to focus on tech events and really start branching out into more and more services through events,” he says.
At the end of 2015 the company saw its biggest change to date, when the live entertainment giant Live Nation – in the form of Ticketmaster – came calling. “They were on the hunt for a self-service DIY platform to bring into their product offering,” recalls McAuliffe.
“They have some amazing technology and there are a lot of diff erent self-service ticketing platforms out there, but they were on the hunt for ones that were really unique, had great tech and also had really good management and a good team at the foundation.
“They decided to make an investment in Universe and that was a really good call on their part as there’s a lot of synergy between what we do and our goals and what the Ticketmaster team was aiming to do.”
The acquisition meant massive growth for the company, expanding from two offices into locations in London, Melbourne and New York, with a Hong King office on the way.
“We started conversations with New Scientist Live and Stylist Live around the same time,” adds McAuliffe. “We reached out to them. They had pretty large events that were similar in scope to what we had worked with in the past and they were looking for a ticketing company that was really easy to use and integrated into their website.
“They were also looking for an additional marketing push. We were able to provide them with the best technology to help them market their event through Ticketmaster and all of the channels that Ticketmaster can leverage.
“They wanted something that was really personally branded, something that could integrate very easily and stylishly into their websites and we were able to do that. You don’t need to redirect people to buy tickets on Universe, we can embed right into your website, so that defifinitely added value.”
With its open API – allowing it to tap into software like Salesforce – and ability to integrate into client websites and offer details reports, Universe occupies the more tech-centric end of the ticketing platform spectrum.
The company has also announced a partnership with tech company Stripe, which enables ticket money to be paid into organiser accounts even as an event is still running.
Whatever the future holds for the ticketing sector, it’s clear that with the backing of Ticketmaster and a smart, techcentric approach, Universe may well have a starring role.
This feature appeared in the December issue of EN. The digital edition is available now.