FlipTix: the next big thing in the sports ticketing industry

FlipTix is the next big thing in the ticketing marketplace. The startup is for event attendees to ‘Flip‘ or in other words, give up the remaining time on their ticket to a waiting fan.

FlipTix has catered to some of the biggest music festivals on Earth and is now making its way into the Sports industry.

Sarah Fatima catches up with their founder, Jaime Siegel in this exclusive!

FlipTix CEO Jaime Siegal
FlipTix CEO Jaime Siegel. Source: supplied

Sarah Fatima: Tell us a little bit about yourself and Fliptix

Jaime Siegel: For as long as tickets existed, they were only good to enjoy events on the schedule set out by event organizers.  The FlipTix platform drives 100% supplemental revenue and data for event owners and provides flexibility to fans.

With FlipTix, fans get the flexibility to enjoy events according to their own schedules - you can only stay for the first half - the Flip out!  You can’t make it to a game until the second half?  No problem, Flip in! 

Event owners get revenue from the sales of Flips and increased revenue from food, beverage and merchandise sales and great data on their customers as well.

With FlipTix, fans get the flexibility to enjoy events according to their own schedules - you can only stay for the first half - the Flip out!  You can’t make it to a game until the second half?  No problem, Flip in!

How exactly did FlipTix start, and how does it function? 

I launched FlipTix in California in 2018 to disrupt the event business! It launched in its current form in January 2018 and went live with our first event in June 2018.  We have focused on music festivals in the United States and were gaining some great traction. 

We executed at 11 music festivals in 2019, with some of the biggest promoters as our partners.  We have three key principles at Fliptix. We always partner directly with the event owners - teams, music promoters, etc. We never resell tickets - we only issue brand new tickets. We never charge more than box office prices.

When a fan leaves an event early, they check out, scan out or otherwise engage with us to let us know that they have left.  We then offer up new tickets to new fans to refill those vacated spaces.  While that is our core product, we are also able to offer digital instant upgrades and pre-event marketplaces.

You come from an academic background so shifting from academia to the tech world. How was that like? 

Although I teach at the University of California Law School, I am only an Adjunct, so I wouldn’t say that I come from an academic background. 

Most of my career in the past 30+ years has been as an intellectual property attorney, and I am a former engineer.  As an IP attorney, I spent my career around innovation and I have advised start-ups for decades. 

The transition was really from an advisor to tech start-ups to truly putting my own lessons into action.  It has been a blast and will continue to be so, despite the current crisis.  There is an old adage in the US that “if you love what you do, it isn’t work at all!”

You are the creator of a very unique app. What was the idea behind this, when where and how did this happen?

The idea came out of the lack of campsites in US national parks during the summer months.  Unless you reserved a site exactly one year in advance, you were likely out of luck. 

Yet, when we went to some parks during the summer, we saw that there were many empty campsites - because campers either did not show up or left early from their reserved time. 

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That sparked the idea of flipping when people leave early.  FlipTIx ultimately launched with a focus on events, but the concept was the same.  In fact, our data shows that at least 30% of fans leave events early, so there is a major opportunity for us to Flip seats. 

FlipTix allows users to sell their partially used tickets to the next interested candidate, would you describe this as a sustainable style of business? 

Absolutely.  It is all about flexibility.  As I mentioned, at least 30% of people leave events early.  That doesn’t mean that there is sufficient time left on all those empty seats, but there is enough to create what we believe to be a billion-dollar opportunity. 

Think about it - we give our partners additional revenue and data that they simply had no opportunity to generate before FlipTix.  With my background as an IP lawyer, it shouldn’t surprise you that FlipTix already has 16 patent applications around the world, and we are the only company in the world to offer the ability to Flip a ticket when an attendee leaves an event early. 

Just think about a post-COVID world.  With capacities likely to be substantially reduced, the pressure is on event owners to just break even, no less turn a profit.  FlipTix enables event owners to maximize the use and revenue from what is highly perishable inventory - seats at events that only run for a limited time.

What is the inspiration behind the name “FlipTix”? 

The name says it all - we Flip Tix!

Who are your biggest markets in terms of clients and users? 

Our focus has been primarily in the music space and specifically in the festival space. 

As a startup it is critical to show the demand, revenue and the ability to scale - in short, to solidify the real opportunity for the company.  In 2019 we integrated into Front Gate Tickets, the largest festival ticketing platform in North America and a subsidiary of TicketMaster. 

We have now partnered with Live Nation, AEG and a number of very significant independent festival promoters.  Our biggest festival had over 100, 000 attendees.  We have never had a single instance of fraud or failure of our technology platform. 

The COVID crisis along with our participation in the Startupbootcamp Sports & Events in Melbourne, which just concluded, provides a great opportunity for us to grow into the sports market.  Aussies are huge sports fans, and that means that there are opportunities to improve the customer experience with flexibility and to improve the bottom lines of sports clubs and major sporting events in Australia.

 Just think about a post COVID world.  With capacities likely to be substantially reduced, the pressure is on event owners to just break even, no less turn a profit. 

So FlipTix has had quite a boom in the ticketing marketplace, musical festivals, events etc. How is the sports industry different from the other areas you operate in? 

The key difference is the duration of the event.  Music festivals go on for anywhere from a day to multiple days.  That means that there is fatigue and people don’t stick around the whole time.  It also means that you could be in Sydney and buy a Flipped ticket for a festival in Melbourne on a Saturday and get there Sunday morning to enjoy the whole day. 

Sports are similar in some ways and quite different in others.  Cricket is similar to music festivals in that matches can go on for days. It’s the same with tennis tournaments and horse races that go on for the better part of a whole day or longer, and car races too. 

But, AFL games and Rugby are typically just a few hours.  That means that Flipping becomes more opportunistic - fans that are within no more than 20-30 minutes away are the audience of potential buyers. 

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However, a major opportunity in the Australian market, in particular, is our ability to deliver digital upgrades to fans already in the venue, as well as our ability to launch a pre-event Member ticket exchange to help AFL teams address major Member no-show issues. 

A full stadium provides amazing energy to the players and the fans together.  It costs nothing for teams to partner with FlipTix, and we can work on top of any ticketing platform, so integrations into primary ticketing platforms are not necessary -although they are always desirable.

FlipTix logo

What’s next for FlipTix

It is the same question that much of the world is asking right now.  So much is out of our control.

However, events with fans in attendance will come back, and there will probably be a tremendous demand after fans have been under lockdown for so long. 

We expect that the Australian market will be back before the North American market, so we are planning for a widespread launch into the Australian market with a focus on sports.  Of course, we are always looking for music partners in Australia as well.

The biggest issue is that FlipTix is doing something that is completely new.  The reality is that most start-ups are incremental improvements over existing technology - better, faster, cheaper. 

What are the major challenges that you’ve faced working in the SportsTech industry specifically?   

The biggest issue is that FlipTix is doing something that is completely new.  The reality is that most start-ups are incremental improvements over existing technology - better, faster, cheaper. 

New is very hard because you have to first find someone willing to listen to what you actually do.  Then you have to find someone that is an early adopter that is not afraid to try new things. 

While the sports industry is embracing technology in a number of ways, ticketing hasn’t been one of them.  Nonetheless, we are engaged with some really great Australian event owners that are very interested in providing a better consumer experience and generating more revenue and data with no upfront costs!

What is your advice to anyone aspiring to start their own SportsTech company? 

Four words - focus, persistence, passion and team.  Running a start-up is not an easy road.  There are peaks and there is a heck of a lot of valleys.

Focus is critical - the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. At FlipTix we focused on music festivals and after a great start there we are able to expand our market to sports and our product to things like upgrades and pre-event markets. 

Persistence - you have to get used to having doors closed in your face, whether from potential investors or partners.  If you don’t have thick skin, it could be crushing.  With persistence, you continue on to the next potential investor or partner until you find acceptance.

Passion - this is fundamental - if you are not passionate about what you are doing, why should anyone bet on you. 

Finally, team - you cannot execute on a great idea by yourself.  Finding a great team is crucial to long-term success.   Get great people that believe in what you do and be secure with surrounding yourself with those that are far smarter than you in the things that they do. 

If you have the focus, persistence and passion and surround yourself with a great team, the difficult road to success will be far smoother.

You can visit the FlipTix website here.
For more SportsTech & SportsBiz content, visit Sportageous.


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