You Don't Need a Great Idea to Start a Business. What You Need Is a Broken Industry.
If you don't have a perfect idea for a new business, don't sweat it. Co-founder of the online ticketing service SeatGeek, Jack Groetzinger says all you really need is to find a stolid industry.
Jack Groetzinger is a co-founder of SeatGeek, Inc., the online ticketing agency, and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. He leads the forecasting team and takes care of SeatGeek’s finances, fundraising, and other such 'trivialities.' Long active in entrepreneurship and particularly interested in aggregating and manipulating the web's 'data exhaust,' Groetzinger's former projects include Scribnia and Evolving Vox. He was previously a consultant at Bain & Company and is a graduate of Dartmouth College.
Jack Groetzinger: When we were trying to figure out what sort of company we wanted to start, we figured that it was very likely that the particulars of what we were doing would change over time. So rather than focusing on a single idea and saying okay that's going to be the idea that we IPO with 10 years later, we wanted to find an industry that was just pretty badly broken and assume that we would navigate within that and change what we did but that there would always be interesting problems to solve if it was a pretty broken industry. And that's why we chose ticketing. For better or for worse, Americans tend to have a lot of animosity towards ticketing companies, which perhaps means that there's room to improve. Like people often feel about some of the big ticketing companies the same way they feel about their cable company, not very fondly. And then also when we actually looked more narrowly at the user experiences, we weren't too impressed by what was out there. We thought that most of the people who were selling tickets were doing that because they were really good at the legal parts of structuring contracts or the finance of organizing a big ticketing deal, not because they were really great at crafting experiences and not that they cared deeply about that, and we do, and we did at the time as well, so we figured that would be our competitive edge.
Let me make a little analogy. If you're buying a plane ticket, you can basically use price as a measure of what's a good value and what's a bad value. Cheaper tickets are probably the best deals. If you're buying a Red Sox ticket and you're using price, you're not getting much out of that because the really cheap tickets are probably just really bad seats. It's not very interesting. So we've spent a lot of time saying okay this ticket might be a little bit more expensive than some alternatives, but it's such a good seat that is actually a really good value. We have something on SeatGeek we call Deal Score that facilitates that. And we basically spent five years on a set of algorithms that assign in real time what a ticket should cost on the open market, compare that against what it does it cost and using that difference identifies the very best values for users.
Americans reserve a special portion of animus in their hearts for two industries: cable providers and ticketing agencies. Identifying just how broken the ticketing industry was Jack Groetzinger's bid idea. While he didn't have a perfect business model pre-fabricated in his mind, he knew that he could navigate the murky waters of an industry that had gotten complacent and stopped innovating. He hung on long enough to co-found SeatGeek and the rest, as they say, is history.
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