We caught up with Martin to find out how he came to found the new ticketing startup, what he’s learned so far, and what his aspirations are for the future (hint: he’s thinking big)…
Martin’s career started in radio, with the BBC initially, and later managing online marketing and digital development for the launch of the popular Bristol radio station, JACK fm. In his radio career, Martin tried his hands at project management, website management, online marketing, event organising and more. “It was very hands on and quite a unique business to work in” he says.
A die hard foodie, Martin left radio to work for West Country Foodlover magazine and from there he founded Bristol Farm Shop selling local Bristol produce. After 2 successful years in business, Bristol Farm Shop was closed down following 4 months of building works. “It was like having to start again” says Martin.
From idea to MVP
After Bristol Farm Shop, Martin went travelling in the USA for 2 months and that was where the seeds of an idea that would later become Tikk started to form…
“We were in an RV driving around” he explains. “One day, we ended up in a San Francisco suburb trying to find out what was happening nearby. All the local websites were inconsistent, you couldn’t find what you wanted, so that started the idea…”
Martin outsourced a team of offshore developers to create a cheap and basic MVP around user generated content that could be shared and upvoted to help people find great local events, bars, restaurants etc.
“It was really cheap and crap” says Martin, “but it looked like something. I showed it to an investor and asked what he thought. He said ‘what’s your business model?’ and I didn’t know.”
For 3 years, on and off, Martin played with the idea, going through many iterations.
When he returned from the States, Martin was invited to join Better Food Company as Development Manager, a position he describes as “like a Master’s degree, in a way. I was right at the top of the leadership team and we were ploughing forward with IT and buying, running a successful crowdfunding campaign for £350,000 and project managing the opening of a new store.”
During the two and a half years Martin has been with Better Food, the idea for Tikk has been steadily growing “usually when I go on holiday” he says.
During a solo trip to Vietnam, Martin’s idea was very much at the forefront of his mind and he spent a week pondering whether he should send an email to someone who might be able to help him out.
That person was Simpleweb founder and managing director Mark. “I finally decided, I’m not going to do this by myself” says Martin. “Any good leader will know that you can’t do things on your own, you need help and people who are better than you in certain areas.” Martin sent a simple one-line email and arranged to meet Mark when he got back.
“It was just an idea at that stage” says Martin, “but I had thought it through and had hammered out the business model and needed to focus on where this could fit into the market and who would want it. Mark was really useful in that respect, giving pointers and hints and introductions to people.”
Since that initial meeting, everything’s been moving very fast. “It’s bizarre, really” says Martin, “it’s gone very quickly from being on the back burner for three years to this…”
Funding and getting started
Although Martin has led a successful crowdfunding campaign before, he’s not falling into the trap of believing it will be so easy to raise money for Tikk… “With Better Food it was a lot easier” he says, “it was an established 25 year old business and a safe investment, it’s at the opposite end of the spectrum to a high risk startup.”
In spite of the risk, Martin has had a lot of interest so far. “I have people committing that are from my own networks” Martin says, “and they’re all from different stages in my life. It’s interesting when people come back and say they’ll support you and that they believe in what you’re doing.”
One of the most interesting things Martin has observed when talking openly about his idea, is the way that different people can add a variety of valuable insights into the product.
“You give somebody the pitch and they go away and they talk about it amongst their family and friends. When they come back, they’ve translated it in a different way and it’s fascinating what they come back with. It’s like a really positive Chinese whispers. They pitch it back to me in a totally different way that I’ve not thought about before.”
The first version of Tikk is set to launch in Spring/Summer 2017 and Martin has big goals for where Tikk will be in a couple of years. “In the future we’ll be looking at developing new technologies that will define ticketing, innovating around the dinosaurs that use paper and being the ticketing solution of the future.”
Find out more about at tikk.com.
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