Concerts! Sports! Theater? Event startups have largely ignored musicals and plays but the fact is they’re an enormous business driven by high-spending theater
addicts “whales”. That’s why TodayTix built an app for them, and now that it’s selling 2% to 3% of tickets for most Broadway shows in New York City, it’s raised a $6.1 million Series A to bring its app to London and the world.
I’ve used TodayTix, and was impressed by how easy it was to pick between dozens of theater shows and their many showtimes. Scroll through graphical tiles of different productions, tap to learn more, pick a showing, select seats, and pay, all from mobile. You can even opt to skip the box office pickup line and have TodayTix concierge hand you our tickets outside the theater for a few extra bucks.
A comparison shopping feature for choosing seats and prices at different showtimes would be awesome. But versus the clunky leading theater ticket websites like Telecharge, paying high TicketMaster service fees, or standing in line outside the TKTS booth in Times Square, TodayTix is worthy of a Tony Award.
That makes sense considering TodayTix was built by two Broadway producers with experience in tech investing and online ticketing…one who actually won some Tony Awards. Disclosure: I went to college with co-founder Merritt Baer, but that really just adds credence. At Stanford, I saw Baer essentially run the theater scene, double-majoring in theater and econ while directing the Spring musicals.
In the nine months since it was founded, TodayTix has hit a $20 million annual revenue run rate. That quick rise in a single market attracted the $6.1 million in funding it’s announcing today, as investors hope it can scale globally. Co-founder Brian Fenty tells me each investor in the round was selected for a “strategic value add”.
The Series A was led by SF Capital, tapped for its deep pockets that could help TodayTix expand. TYLT Labs brings ticket business investing experience. Rubicon ties the startup to its NY roots. Restaurant mogul Danny Meyer and sports team owner Jon Ledecky offer hospitality business expertise. And Thomas McGrath brings insights from running Broadway.com and Broadway Across America.
The money will fund TodayTix’s continuing quest for domination of NYC, the launch in London in Q1 2015, and building out a team of data scientists and other technologists to optimize the app for diehard theater fans who can really grow the startup’s revenue. It will need all the ammunition it can get to challenge the well entrenched ticketers.
Eventually, Fenty says the plan is “a more comprehensive view of connecting audiences in small towns and big towns.” While most people just think of New York and maybe Chicago, many cities see big theater shows like Book Of Mormon roll through, and TodayTix wants to be how people get in the door.
It doesn’t hurt that YPlan just pivoted away from curated ticket sales into a more open platform for events, leaving the theater commerce play available. “They were really our biggest competitor”, at least on mobile, says Baer.
That leaves the traditional ticketing companies that haven’t gotten mobile figured out for theater, or courted a younger demographic. “Our average customer is 32 years old” compared to the industry average of 44, says Baer.
“The vast majority of ticketing companies look at the entire spectrum of live events. That’s left theater unserved by professional capital” Baer concludes. TodayTix is happy to take the spotlight.