Fricket is a Chicago based start-up simplifying the search for tickets to sporting events and concerts. CEO/Co-Founder John Schewe brings over 23 years of business development experience in the financial services industry to build what Excelerate Labs' Troy Henikoff calls "the Kayak of event tickets." John leads an international team of designers and developers building a web based platform helping the ticket customer solve price discovery and price transparency problems with vendor aggregation and ticket price analysis. One stop shopping, no reason to go anywhere else.
Hi John, can you tell us about Fricket?
The current process for buying and selling tickets in the $40B U.S. live event ticket market is broken and needs to adopt technologies utilized successfully in other areas of e-commerce in order to satisfy the needs of both the ticket customer and ticket vendor. Since about 40% of all tickets go unsold, there's a huge opportunity for Fricket to connect fans with a ton of unsold tickets.
Fricket will aggregate the ticket inventories of the top rated secondary market vendors into one location. This side-by-side comparison will allow for the greatest amount of discovery, competition and transparency, which will benefit both buyers and sellers.
The secondary ticket market, as opposed to the primary market e.g. TicketMaster, is the ticket resale market and provides the fan a way to acquire desirable tickets to wide range of events, while providing owners of tickets an dynamic exchange in which to sell their tickets.
Where did the idea come from?
I like HDTV, but nothing beats the experience of being at an event live. I am a Green Bay Packer fan that wanted to attend Super Bowl XLV in 2011. Even though I've bought my fair share of tickets over the years, I found for the biggest game of the year, there was way too much price discrepancy between the various sites, no reference to tell you if you're paying too much, or what is really legitimate.
Tickets are expensive enough and nobody wants to feel like they just got ripped-off. I felt the financial markets offered a good model for solving some of these problems, through real-time aggregated price feeds and data analysis from verifiable sources.
Before buying a ticket, I not only wanted to see a "competitive market quote," or what was "for-sale," but also see the ticket prices for what was actually "trading," or "what the other guy just paid for his," just like what you would want to see before buying a stock or commodity.
Can you tell us a little bit about the technology behind Fricket?
Fricket is a Java/J2EE based application deployed on an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), a very scalable reliable, and secure network environment. A combination of various open-source frameworks, such as Spring, Hibernate, jQuery, have been used to achieve the desired user experience and performance.
How did you get into the world of technology and startups? What draws you to the industry?
I decided to really pursue this opportunity after talking to over 100 potential customers since then, and that research has gone into the design and development of Fricket. Using the latest technology seems like the best tool to solve this problem, but we're always researching for ways to simplify. Being part of a start-up is very American, the greatest start-up yet.
What do you think Chicago's greatest strengths are for entrepreneurship and what do you think is its biggest area for improvement?
From my very short experience, Chicago seems very willing to learn from other communities what works well, when it comes to sparking and maintaining tech entrepreneurship, which is why it also doesn't always take criticisms very well. The city needs to continue to build on its strengths and develop its own distinct "brand" of start-up, in tech and non-tech.
You come from the finance business. Have any of those skills transferred over to the startup world?
Like the financial markets, there are plenty of start-up resources available for everyone with an idea. In theory, anyone can be a Buffett or Zuckerberg, but it comes down to execution, with a little bit of luck, and hard work creates a lot of luck.
What other skills and experiences would you recommend to would-be entrepreneurs?
Get used to talking to strangers and large groups about your idea. Not everyone will like your idea. Get feedback, answer questions, but find the ones that see something and sell them. There is a proliferation of "experts" out there with opinions, so, as President Reagan once said, "trust but verify." Best bet, become a "true" expert yourself, but never stop learning.
You did your MBA at the University of Chicago. Any advice you would give to current MBA students who want to start their own company after college?
I would get involved with the Polsky Center there at Booth. My CTO is a current Booth student, and we entered Fricket in this year's New Venture Challenge. We didn't make it to the finals, but the process helped us to better focus our idea. We met some excellent teams and were introduced to some great advisers. Ideas are important, but execution makes the difference. Conversion rates make or break your success.