Ask just about any concert-goers nowadays and you’ll hear a common refrain of disdain for the business practices of major ticketing service providers. Negative experiences generated by exorbitant fees and questionable business practices are commonplace, leaving ticket buyers perturbed and wanting, but without recourse thanks to the magic of corporate mon-opoly.
Scott Shultz and Dan Eggen count themselves amongst the legions who have been flogged by the ticket providers. Only the two have separated themselves by drawing a line in the sand and taking a stand against perceived injustices, spending the last several years to develop their own ticketing service: ticket-e-split.
“People are ready for a change,” said Shultz. “And I think Dan and myself have a pretty good idea that early indications suggest is going to be very successful. The long and short is the venue tells us what they want to do on any night for any show or event and boom, we lay it out for them, make it easy, and make it easy for the artists and venues to make money and get their tickets out to their customers at affordable rates. Big or small, that’s what we offer.”
Between the two, both Eggen, a Willmar resident who serves as President and CEO, and Shultz, a Granite Falls local who fills the role of Vice-President and CFO, boast complimentary experience that reach back decades. Eggen brings fourteen years of international concert work and the continuation of a successful production company while Shultz has extensive background in sales and marketing and business management that spans over 25 years.
Willmar serves as the location for the home office, but a satellite office also graces Prentice Street in Granite Falls where ticket-e-split has come to occupy the space that formerly housed the Women’s Rural Advocacy Program (WRAP) not far from City Hall.
Posters and flyers from events they’ve already booked paper the glass front door and most of the 70s-era wood paneling that wraps the majority of the interior of the office space. Shultz has thrown up some of his rock-n-roll art and a few of his guitars sit at bay, ready at any moment for the business owners to break out a few riffs and play.
Shultz runs down their recent list of clients, they are places, festivals and organizations like: Creek Fest in Cherokee, Iowa (Jake Owen was there!), The Tony Dungy Event at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, the Wheels of Thunder Motorsports Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Williams and Ree at Sky Dancer Casino, Great White in several North Dakota clubs. Then there’s the baseball teams in the Northwoods League, they’re handling tickets now for the Alexandria Blue Anchors, the Waterloo Bucks, the Duluth Huskies, the Battle Creek Bombers. You generally have to stop Shultz about there. He’s beaming.
Page 2 of 3 - There’s a big white board in the back “conference room” with a rundown of clients they’re tracking down. There’s names listed next to what they need, next to when they’re meeting them.
“It’s literally been just over six months that we’ve been out there working it. And already we are in 49 cities and 17 states. At least once a week we get someone calling us who was referred by one of our customers, or people that have heard of what we do and just how well we can do it,” Shultz says.
In all, Eggen and Shultz have spent seven-and-a-half years developing what the two of them believe is a better mousetrap in the ticketing world. Like a couple guys working on their dream hot-rod together, they weren’t going to be a flash-in-the-pan. They got the best programmers in the world to build their slick intuitive website. Then they waited an extra year before launching because it just wasn’t quite the way they wanted it yet. They rounded up investors and sales people. They were as ready as Ocean’s 11. The gestation was done. A delivery date approached.
Back in late February, the official birth of ticket-e-split occurred in a conference room at the Embassy Suites hotel in Bloomington, where Shultz and Eggen welcomed their first group of national sales representatives who poured in from across the country to see what the pair had cooked up.
A projector lighted the marketing artwork for ticket-e-split on the far wall. Those soft, warm, hotel conference room lights shone. Over twenty people circled the u-shaped conference table and watched as Shultz and Eggen showed off their baby.
Amidst the glare of the lights, Eggen rattled off the pitch: “Our program can map venues in less than 24 hours. It doesn’t matter the size of the venue. Our competition simply doesn’t have the flexibility, capability, or motivation to deliver what we can. And we do it while only charging a five percent fee to the end-user. Everyone else, like Ticketmaster charges 30-50 percent and sometimes more when you tab up all those ridiculous fees. We can simply treat our clients and customers better, while charging less.”
What ticket-e-split is banking on is volume. Venue size doesn’t matter to them, because they’re going after the total percentage, each user is an exponent and their system doesn’t care if that exponent is one Excel Center, or five Northwoods League baseball teams. So, they can build their market by plucking low-hanging fruit, those underserved small markets and non-profits that are begging for ticket and booking management, but are too small for a multi-billion dollar goliath like Ticketmaster, which was estimated in 2008 to control a 25 percent market share, to bother with.
Page 3 of 3 - “We treat the small venues the same way we treat the large venues,” noted Schultz, who upon being questioned explained that ticket-e-split could manage ticket sales for most any type or size local act whether it be a band at the Legion or the PRCA rodeo during Western Fest. “We give them a better tool than Ticketmaster has available and we don’t charge them for it. We are currently replacing five or six ticketmaster contracts at this time and will continue to do so as existing contracts with venues expire.
So, now Shultz and the sales crew including Lynn Blue, Nick Kootsikas among others are generally off wheelin’ and dealin’ across the country at trade shows, conventions and meetings. “Spreading the gospel and closing deals,” as Shultz says. They are followed closely by Dan Eggen and team for the equipment installation and on site systems and operations training.
“Not long ago, we did a Tony Dungy speaking event that sold out 4,100 seats,” recalled Schultz. “Organizers called us and said they wanted to add another 600 seats for overflow. We added them in half-an-hour and sold them out right after that. We are the “only” web-based ticketing company that has the ability to change seating maps on the fly in minutes with all the attributes attached and never charge our client for doing it. Boy, it’s fun to be here,” he said.