Startup calls time on ticket touts

Dublin-based ticketing software business Evopass thinks it can solve perennial problem

Evopass founders Jake MccGwire, Kevin Murray, Zach Diebold: “We are not in direct competition with the big players,” MccGwire says.

When the tickets for U2's upcoming concerts sold out in seconds, fans were furious to find them at exorbitant prices on resale sites shortly afterwards. It's a perennial problem and one that Dublin-based ticketing software startup Evopass thinks it can solve. The company has developed the Evopass Exchange, which co-founder, Jake MccGwire, says, "will finally put a stop to ticket touting and ticket fraud".

MccGwire describes Evopass Exchange as “a white-label ticket exchange that enables ticket agents and self-ticketing venues to have their own fully operational resale market. This not only allows them to have complete control over the price at which their tickets are resold, but it also gives them an opportunity to generate revenue from the ticket resale market. This represents a huge opportunity as over €1billion was made from resold tickets in 2016 in the UK alone.”

Blockchain hackathon

Evopass has three founders, MccGwire, Kevin Murray and Zach Diebold. They came up with the idea for their business when they saw off competition from 150 other bright sparks to win an international blockchain hackathon in 2015 with an early iteration of their product.

“Having experienced both touting and fraud first hand we saw a huge opportunity to try and find a solution to this problem,” MccGwire says. “Existing resale platforms do not have any form of price restriction on resold tickets. If anything they encourage high prices by taking a 10-20 per cent commission. Unless an agent is large enough to purchase one of these exchanges, they are unable to exert any control over how their tickets are resold or to generate any revenue from it. Our exchange gives them control and increases their revenues while also providing a verified and secure secondary market.”


Different experience

The founders met while studying at Trinity College and set up their company in November 2016. However, they have only been full-time in the business since graduating in May of last year. MccGwire studied economics, Murray is a graduate in management science and information systems studies and Diebold has an MSc in computer science. All three brought different experience to the startup. MccGwire set up a not-for-profit business in Uganda when he was 19 and both he and Murray have worked for Deloitte Consulting while Diebold had previously worked with a cloud monitoring startup. Evopass employs five people fulltime.

The company’s main customers will be independent ticket providers and self-ticketing venues. “There are a small number of very large secondary market sites that have dominated the market for a number of years. Evopass will reduce the volume of tickets going through these sites as well as allowing smaller ticket agents to compete with the more established players,” MccGwire says.

Minimal cost

Evopass is a typical bootstrapped startup where everything has been done in-house with a lot of blood, sweat and tears but at minimal cost. In hard cash terms the founders have spent about €15,000, with €10,000 of that coming from their participation in the Launchbox accelerator at Trinity College. The company has recently been accepted on to the NDRC’s Launchpad programme.

The company’s first product, Evopass Application, was launched last September and it covers events directly ticketed by the company. Over the last five months it has processed more than €100,000 in sales for a number of different events. Evopass Exchange is its system for the outside world and it will be launched shortly.

The company will make its money by charging a booking fee on its own tickets (about 4.5 per cent versus industry norms at 10 per cent or more) and from sharing booking fee revenues with those using its system. “We are not in direct competition with the big players,” MccGwire says. “Our potential customers are the medium-sized companies selling up to 10 million tickets a year.”