Interviews

Building a nationwide community of live event fans without ripping them off

10 min read

20 June 2016

Former deputy editor

Determined to transform the live event industry, Vibe Tickets is a service that provides a social and ethical solution for Brits looking to attend events, building a fun-loving community of people who want to buy and resell tickets – without getting conned by resellers.

Ahead of the VOOM finale on Tuesday 28 June, which will see six SMEs pitch to Richard Branson, Virgin Media Business MD Peter Kelly and a trio of judges, Real Business is getting familiar with the companies that are battling for a £1m prize fund.

Three finalists can be found in the two categories, Startup and Grow, and the first person we heard from was Luke Massie, owner and founder of Vibe Tickets.

Category: Startup

Location: Lancaster

Founding year: 2013

Sector and company description: Vibe Tickets is the social and ethical solution for people who want to buy or sell tickets to the biggest live events in the UK. Tickets can only be sold at face value which means sellers receive the money they originally spent and buyers are not left feeling ripped off.

The differentiator of Vibe Tickets is that users can also choose to meet each other either before or during events to create a Vibe Tickets community of attendees. By taking part, users simultaneously get to see their favourite attractions and make new friends.

(1) What was your inspiration for launching the business?

It all started with a personal experience in navigating the secondary ticketing market. I actually purchased gig tickets for me and a few friends, but unfortunately they had double booked themselves. I didn’t want to waste the tickets (and my money!) or rip anyone off, so I looked for a way to sell the tickets for face value to real fans who perhaps missed out when the tickets were released.

Seeing that there wasn’t a free option available at the time, I put my tickets on Twitter and ended up selling them – making a fan and my pocket happy! From there, Vibe Tickets was born.

(2) Who are your target customers?

The beauty of Vibe is it appeals to people of all ages, of different genders, and who are interested in all different things. If you’re 15 or 50 we are sure to have something for you on the Vibe Tickets app. If you have tickets to sell, we’re perfect and can help you out – it’s easy to upload and very quick. If you are looking to buy, we have thousands of people selling tickets, so again, we can be of great use to you.

(3) What prompted you to take part in VOOM this year?

We thought it was a great opportunity to get Vibe out there and with the backing from such an esteemed company as Virgin Media Business, and obviously the potential to meet Richard Branson, we knew we had to enter!

Our brand is all about the people and so the more people we can get it out there too, and get on board with our idea, the more fans will save money and stop getting ripped off. We know that if we had a chance to tell Richard about our product and brand, and our reason behind it, he’d love it and believe in it like we and all our fans do.

(4) How did you find the Pitchathon, and what did you do to prepare?

The VOOM Pitchathon was pretty intense. I did have prompt cards that I had written out and prepared which explained what Vibe Tickets is in a nutshell – all our differentiating points, why we do what we do, and why we are out to help the fans.

But when you get in there, it’s a different atmosphere and you’ve just got to go with it. I didn’t end up looking at my points once, and I could have talked for a lot longer, but thankfully I got most of what I wanted to say across, and they liked it!

(5) Prior to that, what was your experience of pitching?

I have done pitches before to investors and I do a lot of public speaking, but this was different because I knew I was up against some great companies, so it was going to be a tough competition. And what with not having that long in front of the panel, you want to try and cram everything in a short period of time without sounding like you’re rushing.

Read more from VOOM 2016:

(6) What did you learn from the event?

I’m so passionate about Vibe Tickets and the problems we’re trying to overcome in the secondary ticketing market, that I could have talked for hours on end on why we’re trying to tackle it and how we’ve been successful. However, I think the short time limit made me cut down everything and just go back to talking about the heart of Vibe, why we want to help fans, and why we are genuinely trying to make this industry a better place.

(7) Why do you think you got through to the semi-finals?

I think our product is something that everyone can benefit from – young, old, female, male, football fan, music fan – and everyone sees that including the panel. We aren’t specific to a certain genre, so our product offering appeals to so many people with differing interests and hobbies. We’re trying to solve a problem which is so topical and affecting so many people globally.

(8) What went through your head when you were told you had made it to the grand final?

I was so relieved and felt so proud of the whole Vibe Tickets team. It was such a sense of achievement. Working in a tech start up is hard and to be recognised in something like VOOM is really overwhelming.

(9) You’re going to pitch to Richard Branson – what will you do to ensure you impress him and the other judges to win?

Well, I think Richard Branson is a people’s person – he’s a fair man and so I think our product will do the talking. It’s my job to get across to him what the state of the secondary market is like at the moment; fans being ripped off, conned and tricked into giving away their hard earned cash. I think he will like the fact Vibe is an app that was made by fans, for the fans. He’s such an inspirational business man and I hope I can really show him my passion, entrepreneurial spirit and drive for this business.

(10) Should you be victorious, what’s the big ambition for the company over the next year and then five years?

We will be constantly developing and bettering the product as we’re more than just a buying and selling app. We’re here to connect people, to help people and to ultimately change an industry which is a huge challenge.

At the moment we have big industry giants dominating the market ripping off these fans and we want to change that. We’ll continue campaigning for this worldwide, hopefully roll out exciting new features and change the face of the secondary ticketing market. That’s the aim.

From 3,000 entrants, these are the six SMEs chosen to pitch to Richard Branson at the £1m VOOM 2016 finale.