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Give back next time you buy concert tickets with tix4cause
It’s a given that we all want to see teen hearthrob/young adult on the verge of a Vanilla Ice-caliber meltdown Justin Bieber in concert, but have you seen those ticket prices? $45 for the nosebleed section! No amount of autotuned baby crooning and swag children’s clothing is going to get me to pay $45 to watch a 19 year-old Canadian man-boy lip sync through a telescope (it just sounds creepy, doesn’t it?). If only there was some extra incentive to make the whole purchasing ordeal feel a little more... palatable.
Turn those guilty pleasures into guilt-free fun with Naperville’s charitable-focused startup tix4cause. The online ticket purchasing platform allows you to buy tickets for the event you’re likely going to anyway, and in the end give a portion of your purchase to the charitable organization of your choice. Alternatively, anyone looking to give away tickets can donate them to tix4cause, netting warm fuzzy feelings as well as a nice little tax write-off.
We sat down with tix4cause president and co-founder Annette Koch, who told us about the company’s big changes and challenges since its launch in 2010.
What is the backstory behind tix4cause?
The backstory is a really great one. The founder, Kevin Nemetz, was sitting in the premier seats at a White Sox game a few years ago and noticed that there was an exorbitant amount of empty seats. He thought it was a shame there were so many unused seats, and came up with the idea that those empty seats could be filled and the proceeds could go to charity.
The original premise of the website was to take those unused seats and fill them with people while benefitting charities, and from there over the past few years we’ve morphed and grown a lot and we now have a platform that is even more relevant to the nonprofit world.
What are some of the most active charities on your platform?
We have about 600 causes, most of which are in the Chicagoland area. We have causes located in about 44 states, but the bulk of the concentration is in Chicago. We had a push about a year ago that made Dallas the second area of concentration with about 40 or 50 charities coming onboard.
The charities range in size, all the way from local animal shelters to the American Heart Association and Susan G. Komen. The local Ronald McDonald House here in Chicago is one example of an organization doing a phenomenal job of leveraging their local partners to get tickets for the Bulls and White Sox.
Tell me a bit about your recent relaunch and the changes that have come with that.
We just relaunched our website in January. We’re no longer only the a place for donating tickets; we’re now linked with the secondary ticket exchange and that has afforded us the ability to have access to 10 million plus tickets for all types of performances.
We have donated tickets still that come and go, but we also now have tickets to everything from Justin Bieber to Blackhawks games and the Book of Mormon. Anything that you can find on SeatGeek or TicketsNow or StubHub you’re going to be able to find on tix4cause, and you can buy them knowing that you’re contributing to a good cause.
What are some incentives for people or organizations to donate to tix4cause?
For individuals, it takes only three to five minutes to donate your ticket to charity and you get a tax receipt for that donation. It can be a good alternative to trying to find someone at the last minute or simply giving your tickets away.
We will continue to work with venues like the White Sox, the Blue Man Group, and the Chicago Fire. What we’ve been able to do with them is take excess tickets and get those seats filled. What tix4cause has become is that vehicle by which the nonprofit can organize an event without having to purchase the tickets upfront. It’s been a very good platform.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge for us has been awareness. We’re a small company here in Naperville and it’s a challenge to get the word out and let people know that this platform exists.
For nonprofits it allows them to raise additional funds without having a huge administrative team to manage the process. For ticket owners it gives them a new option to benefit an organization they care about and get a tax receipt for that donation. Purchasers love it because they know they’re benefitting a cause by buying tickets and going to these events.
What are some fun things you do as a team in or outside of the office?
We try to have fun as much as possible. We always do team dinners and we’ve gone to see games at the Chicago White Sox and the Fire. We do networking things together and have fun outside of the office as much as possible. On Friday afternoons around 5:30 or so we kick back and have a glass of wine and figure out what accomplishments we’ve had during the week.
What advice would you give to any beginning entrepreneurs out there?
It’s great to be passionate about an idea, and I think that’s one of the important things you need to start a company. There are a lot of sacrifices involved and you have to be open to the ideas of people out there that are probably more subject matter experts than you might be.
As an entrepreneur you’re wearing a lot of hats, and when you’re passionate about a particular idea you should always be open to feedback from those experts in the arena: have those advisors out there help keep you on the right track, give you that gut check, and refine what you’re thinking. There are tons of ideas and tons of potential but at the same time there are limited resources. It’s important to gain momentum but it’s important to make sure you’re seeing the project through.
What’s next for tix4cause?
We just launched our new website that has the capability to be a national platform -- it’s relevant to everybody in the country. We’re currently working with the Masters Program at Northwestern University on a marketing plan to help increase awareness. That’s really it: to take this and really spread the word through our nonprofit organizations and to the consumers. It’s really the next big step from our perspective.
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