Events innovation is ticket to success

Belfast-based Get Invited is earning global attention less than six months after launch


Last November, Get Invited founders Kyle Gawley, David Turner and Christopher Murphy were meeting for coffee across Belfast with a variety of local event promoters trying to sway them towards their new online ticketing and event registration idea.

“Then it started to snowball,” says Gawley. By the beginning of 2014, with more than €210,000 in funding, what started as a master’s project was now ready for market.

Officially up and running since the start of February, Get Invited has now processed more than 10,000 tickets, but it’s what they do beyond that which they hope will separate the company from its rivals.

“Our competitors’ core focus is the ticketing,” says Gawley, who mentions Eventbrite as one of their obvious rivals. “We’re taking that to the next level, so while we do the ticketing it’s what else we can do on top of that that will provide value for both the event organiser and the attendees.”

Get Invited now has 324 customers running conferences, seminars, talks and concerts across Ireland, Britain, Europe and Japan. They’re working with events such as The Web Is in Cardiff – where one of the main speakers is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak – which, Gawley notes, is expected to raise about €1.45 million in ticket sales.

The US market awaits and with Murphy now acting as a non-executive director, Gawley and Turner are joined in their Cathedral Quarter offices in Belfast by lead designer Stuart Kennedy and marketing manager, Emma Leahy.

“It’s really a case now of raising awareness of what we’re doing,” says Gawley, “and since February, our focus has shifted to tech events and conferences.”

As Gawley notes, “those people in the right tech circles – influential and well-connected early adopters – are who we’re trying to turn into evangelists for Get Invited.”

As the company’s user base swells by the week, another round of funding is expected “late on this year” while an increase in the size of the team high on the agenda too.

Social media
The model behind all this growth is a mixture of traditional industry norms (“similar to Ticketmaster we take a commission on every ticket sale”) with a “strong social elements” mixed in alongside analytical tools.

Talking further about “the next generation of ticketing”, Gawley brings up tools such as the start-up’s “social timeline” and “social profiling” as being big differentiators.

The former helps event organisers track and analyse conversations around their event. “From the moment an event is created, we can capture data on the social activity regarding it across a range of social media channels,” says Gawley.

“Then we pull that in and put it on their event page – so there are photos from Instagram, Flickr, videos from YouTube, we’ll also put in tweets and Facebook comments,” says the company co-founder,

“[The promoter] can see what people are saying, and then we provide analytics to make use of that data.”

All this information will, he says, help increase ticket sales, improve marketing communications for the promoter and have the knock-on effect of making the overall experience far better for their attendees.

Dis covery tool
The “profiling” element of Get Invited, meanwhile, attempts to tackle the issue of ticketing and registration services which aim advertising at what is often an “untargeted directory which is not a great help for event organisers when promoting their events”.

Instead, Get Invited is “developing a social platform where people can connect”, eventually becoming a discovery tool for events based on recommendations, behavioural trends, customised preferences and invitations.

“Anyone who buys a ticket through Get Invited has their own profile, other people can connect with them, see what events they’ve attended and what they’re going to attend,” says Gawley.

“Someone going to a tech event for instance can discover someone they’d like to connect with at an upcoming conference or seminar,” he adds, before noting that any information shared on a user’s profile is voluntary, and users have “full control over which events they’re attending actually showing up on their public profile”.

Get Invited can then also recommend events for users based on previous event history, pointing them towards particular speakers, themes and interests that should match their needs.

This, says Gawley, all adds up to a product that’s “much more sophisticated than our competitors’”.

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