Get to know a Toronto startup: Picatic

Crowdfunding is one of the latest buzz words to grace the technology community. Think of crowdfunding as a way to finance a project by reaching out to your potential customers and asking them to invest a small amount of money towards turning your idea into reality. Crowdfunding focuses on allowing individuals to prepay - at a hefty discount - for a non-existent product or service while it's still an idea. If there is enough interest, and potentially enough money is raised through pre-sales, the idea gets validated and the project kicks off.

Although the risk of pre-ordering a product or service before it even exists may be tough to wrap your head around, there are many startups who are trying to apply this concept to more practical situations. Multiple niche crowdfunding platforms are popping up that allow fans to financially back their favourite indie films and musical artists in advance. This concept allows artists to test the market to see if they can generate enough interest before putting pen to paper.

Jay Parmar and the guys at Picatic are a prime Toronto example of taking the crowdfunding idea and applying it to a new industry. I had the chance to spend some time with Jay and his team to learn a bit more about how Picatic is quickly changing the way events are organized and planned online.

What's the story behind Picatic?

Picatic is a crowdfunding platform for the event ticketing and event management spaces. With our website, event organizers are able to pre-sell tickets at a discounted price to see if their event has demand or relevancy. If an event sells enough pre-tickets to meet the event organizer's minimum amount, the event 'tilts' - if it does not, ticket buyers money is returned in full. We help professionals and recreational event organizers by eliminating 100% of the risk when organizing events.

Interesting, where did the inspiration come from?

Our base platform, which is still active and very popular, is a traditional online ticketing company that works quite well.

However, we discovered a major problem in the event industry that no one was addressing. We found that event organizers are subjecting themselves to a large amount of unnecessary risk when they secure talent and a venue before selling a single ticket. This all too common scenario puts organizers in an extremely vulnerable financial position. One unsold ticket at $75 might not be a big deal, but 2000 unsold tickets at $75 is a loss of $150K. After an organizer discovers their event is going to take a loss, it's often too late to turn back.

We are addressing the pain felt by many event planners by allowing them to validate and gather revenues for their event beforehand. With EventTilt, event organizers won't have to take a loss again.

Let's say I want to buy a ticket to an event, how does this benefit me as a buyer?

Ticket buyers are given an opportunity to purchase tickets for an event with the understanding that a predetermined number of discounted tickets need to be purchased for the event before it 'tilts'. Event organizers can sell a preset number of discounted tickets within a maximum of 30 days. If the preset number of tickets are not sold, funds are returned in full to buyers. In the more common situation, when the preset number of tickets are sold, the event 'tilts' and the remaining tickets continue to sell at full price.

Also, as an incentive, event coordinators can reward early ticket purchasers with a financial discount and exclusive 'perks' such as VIP access, autographed books, swag and more.

As an organizer, what are some of the best features of Picatic?

Picatic provides event certainty by guaranteeing successful events and eliminating 100% of the risk!

Our solution puts the cart before the horse - we give tools to event organizers to pre-sell tickets and determine if their event is relevant. This allows organizers to break away from standard ticketing models and disrupt an industry that has been slow to evolve. Our target customers are event organizers, promoters, talent and venues who would historically announce an event and hope they sell enough tickets. Picatic's EventTilt takes financial worries out of the equation and puts power back into the hands of event organizers and their fans.

To simplify, we are Kickstarter for events.

Tell me about the business side of Picatic, where does the revenue come from?

We are a free web-based platform, for free tickets our service is completely free to use - for event that have charge tickets, we make a small commission from tickets that are sold. Thus, we only make money if we make you money first.

What are the next steps for Picatic?

Presently we are open to two currencies, CAD and US. In the near future, we're looking to open up to parts of the Latin and UK markets as well.

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