Make way for another online ticketing startup, this one coming at the market by way of Eastern Europe. TicketForEvent, a London-based B2B online ticketing site with most of its operations in Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, has raised $3 million, which it will use to expand its business in the region, to extend to entertainment and sports events, to grow its mobile business and to prepare for a wider European push. The Series A comes round from Abele Ventures, a new VC fund out of Eastern Europe.
It looks like TicketForEvent is Abele’s first-ever investment — an indication of sorts of how Eastern Europe continues to develop its own home-grown funding network to match the army of regionally focused startups emerging in the area.
Since launching last year, TicketForEvent has sold more than 130,000 tickets for over 1,000 B2B events in the three countries. The company, which competes against the likes of Cvent, Eventbrite, Amiando and Ticketfly, says that it’s managed to surmount challenges specific to Eastern Europe, which gives it an advantage over these others.
Specifically, the payments landscape is very fragmented: TicketForEvent says it aggregates some 90 different payment methods in its service.
“Our primary competitors are the well-known global players– Eventbrite, Cvents, Amiando, Ticketfly etc. However, they have struggled to break into the CIS market, where we have an advantage. Our team completely understands the market and its particular challenges,” says co-founder Hennadiy Netyaha.
In addition to this, the company has built up a system for managing interactive seating charts and running affiliate marketing programmes, so that third parties can also link up with its ticketing system.
Perhaps because of the barriers to entry around areas like online payments for its competitors, so far, TicketForEvent says that it’s seen very strong demand for its services. Currently it has sales of $5 million, but it says that it has contracts in place totalling $50 million. That still puts it very far behind the likes of Eventbrite, which in June announced $1 billion in total sales through its platform.
As for geographical expansion, TicketForEvent will start to market itself in the rest of Europe in about a year, although it already has customers in the UK, Austria, The Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. “This is proof for us that we are ready to face the competition in Europe and attract a good market share,” he says.
Another area where the company is investing is in mobile, both through its own apps and to support “mobile wallet” services like Apple’s Passbook. It expects 30% of tickets in the CIS will be bought in the CIS with mobile apps by the end of 2014, and even more in Europe, “which is why we are investing in mobile now.”
The company has been self-funded up to now.
“There has been significant interest in this sector from investors, but although we have had several funds contacting us for the last 6 months, we weren’t in a hurry,” says Netyaha. “Eventually we were contacted by Mikhail Nikolaev from Abele Ventures and it was a good fit for us.”
There isn’t much in the way of information about Abele Ventures, but it looks like it is only opening up for business this month, according to this logo design brief posted on the crowdsourced design site 99 Designs.