[Talk] Selfie Ticket: Running with the “Worst Idea in the World”

Last week was Philly Tech Week here in the City of Brotherly Love. Lots of cool and important things happened (like the world’s largest video game) and also I gave a talk. PhilaMade hosted the event and beer was involved. Also speaking were: John Gruber, Yesenia and Katie of Happy Cog, and Dan Mall of SuperFriendly. So a pretty illustrious bunch.

Below is a manuscript of my contribution, slightly doctored for readability. 

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OK BEAH…

So, earlier today I asked myself: “OK, Beah, what are you going to talk about?”

My first instinct was to talk about recognizing great ideas. Even ideas that sound stupid. About not being afraid to say, ‘yes’ to crazy shit.

Ideas like this:

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This email arrived in my inbox May of last year. It’s from Chrisse, Ticketleap’s amazing Customer Success Director. Please note Chrisse’s key, conclusive statement: ‘this might be the stupidest idea in the world.” When I read the email, the critic in me stirred. In part because it had the word “selfie” in it; and in part because I didn’t want to risk being the moron that got excited about something the rest of the management team thought was stupid (I was relatively new at Ticketleap and still proving my mettle; last thing I needed was to look like a bad gatekeeper for the product).

But — honestly — I kinda liked the idea. A lot. So eventually I got over myself and responded, proclaiming my enthusiasm.

So that was going to be my thesis: embrace crazy ideas. But then I thought about it for 5 seconds and realized that would be a horrible thesis. Selfie Ticket, wasn’t a stupid idea or a great idea. It was — like all ideas — an opportunity. An opportunity to make something great; an opportunity to make something terrible; or an opportunity to do something decent but ultimately a waste of time. It could go in any of these directions and a million others. My job was to figure out if we if there was a path to greatness and what that path looked like. In other words: execution

EXECUTION

This is not a new idea, but it can never be said enough. An idea is only as good as its execution.

So that’s what I’m actually going to talk about: not the idea but the execution of Selfie Ticket. First, for those who don’t know, let me tell you how Selfie Ticket works.

You buy a ticket and instead of getting QR code or barcode, you sign into our app, take a Selfie, and we embed your photo into a digital ticket that you can present from your phone. 

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So that’s your ticket. Pretty simple. Your ticket lives on your phone and has a photo of you on it (so you can’t pass it over the fence to your friend). There are a number of reasons it’s better than a QR code but I won’t get into those now. The important thing to note is simply that… it’s pretty simple. It’s a ticket. You know what a ticket is. You know what a selfie is (unfortunately). Now you know what a Selfie Ticket is.

But here’s the thing: that apparent simplicity — that’s not a good idea at work. That’s good design at work. Good design makes things appear simple.

GOOD DESIGN MAKES SOMETHING APPEAR SIMPLE

There were infinitely many ways we could have designed Selfie Ticket. Some of them would have felt very clunky or confusing. During our beta testing, I asked maybe a hundred people: “how did Selfie Ticket work for you?” and the most common answer I heard was something like, “Actually, it was really easy.”

So anyway, how did we get to a design that makes it feel simple? And when I say “design,” I mean it really broadly — not just the look and feel but the UX, the information hierarchy and, importantly, the language.

Here’s how: we found ways to put it in front of people, collect reactions, and iterate.

FEEDBACK IS A RELIGION

Maybe this sounds obvious. “Is she really saying, ‘create a prototype, get feedback, complete design’”? Duh, right? I’m not just saying that. Well, sort of. You probably should do that. BUT, I will also say: feedback is not a step. Let me say it again, because that’s something people do for emphasis, right? Feedback is not a step. Feedback is more like a religion. You believe in it and it shapes everything you do. You test out everything on the world, listening for reactions/feedback.

That CAN mean building a prototype or beta product and giving it a formal test in a real life situation. We did this with Selfie Ticket. We did it by throwing our own event and using Selfie Ticket.

But it can also mean something way lighter weight than that. It can mean going home, telling your husband about the idea, trying out different language and approaches, and listening for clues in his reaction (if he’s a generally super supportive enthusiastic person, you have to listen reaaaaaal careful). It means showing a mock to the guy sitting next to you on the train. It means sharing some slides at the company meeting to get everyone talking and critiquing. It’s not a step.

What did feedback do for us? It basically changed everything

And therein lies a critical rule of feedback-as-a-religion: If you ask for feedback, be ready to learn from it. Be ready to make real changes.

BE OPEN TO CHANGE

Recall the subject line of Chrisse’s email? “Idea: Early Check-in.” Well before we launched we completely erased any explicit reference to both ‘early’ AND to ‘check-in.’ In testing the designs and early version of the app, we learned that people brought different connotations to the term ‘check-in.’ Some people thought it was like a Foursquare check-in; some people thought about early flight check-in. Neither of the concepts created the right mental model. So we tossed the reference. What are you doing in the app? You’re just creating your Selfie Ticket. Almost like printing your QR code ticket. It’s just the prep work you do to get your ticket — though more fun than printing.

Another thing we learned? Once we got a beta version of our app in the store, we found our users were downloading the wrong app. We already had an app for event creators — used for selling and scanning tickets. Now we also had an event-goer app. Some of our event creators downloaded the event goer app and vice versa. Confusion and dissatisfaction ensued. This raised the question: why do we have 2 apps? While historically the ticketing industry has thought of it’s “sellers” (people who create events) and “buyers” (people who go to events) as separate populations, we didn’t! We were building a product for people like you — people who have something worth sharing with the world and want to use live experiences to do that. You don’t have to be a professional event creator. Most of you aren’t professional bloggers but you write stuff online when you have something to say. Everyone is a potential event creator to Ticketleap. So, in our second iteration, we combined the apps into one. Could we have anticipated this? Should we have anticipated this? Probably. Probably I, as the Product Manager, should have laid that out in the initial plans. But I didn’t. It took a little feedback from the world.

IT DOESN’T STOP AT LAUNCH

We’re still iterating. We’re still getting feedback/reactions from the world. Here’s a pertinent example: this event — this event in which I talk about Selfie Ticket — did not use Selfie Ticket. And I see that as my failure; my failure to design a check-in option presentation that convinced Abby to enable Selfie Ticket. But that’s OK because feedback is not a step. I didn’t miss my chance. We’ll keep iterating and hopefully next year when I’m talking at PhilaMade’s Show & Tell about Ticketleap’s next great event innovation, people will show up at the door with their Selfie Tickets, excited to hear what’s next.

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- Beah Burger-Lenehan, VP of Product

A New Sales Reports Tool on Ticketleap

When you think about having a good time, you know what you never think about? Sales Reports. So when you think about hosting a bunch of events, you probably won’t think about what you want in a sales report until the very moment that you need one. No mind, we took feedback from some of the great events that use Ticketleap and launched a new sales report that has the information you want, in an easy-to-read format.


As the first option under the Analyze tab, the new sales report is a quick way to see what your bottom line is.

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Once in the Sales Report tab, you can select any or all of your events.


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You can also isolate sales by purchase point (online or onsite) and you can select a date range.

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The report then lets you know what matters most to you: The number of tickets sold, the face price of those tickets, if anyone purchased a ticket with a discount, the fees paid by your tickets buyers, if there were any refunds, and most importantly, the net proceeds!


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Login to your Ticketleap account and check it out. We’d love to know what you think.


Introducing Selfie Ticket: Because Events are about People not Barcodes

It is nearly impossible to do something great without the support of others. A community of others. You form a community by building connections with people. And the best way to build a connection with someone? Well, as an event creator, you know the answer to that, by being with them in person.

If you’re turning to events to grow your community, you’re doing it right. We like to think we have helped you, but realize we can do more for you. Last year, we threw an event of our own and we learned something that, in retrospect, feels painfully obvious. When you’re trying to grow and strengthen your community, treating the people in it like transactions is pretty crummy. Let’s face it, that’s what ticketing platforms are all about: the transaction. Give us your credit card and we’ll give you a barcode.

Today we introduce a reinvention of the ticket. One that allows you to welcome your ticket holders like you would your friends, by their face. It’s called Selfie Ticket and it’s optimized for those of us building communities by bringing people together.

Learn more about Selfie Ticket here.

What if you could improve your event page conversion by 23%?

It’s been more than a month since we launched our new event page design. It’s strikingly different than a typical ticketing platform event page.

(What’s a typical ticketing platform event page? From our survey, it’s a functional but largely artless gateway to a credit card form. It contains the necessary info, but doesn’t convey the right impression. It handles a transaction, but doesn’t engage your community.)

Our goal was to help you capture the spirit of your event, and to help you sell more tickets. Maybe these goals sound generic, but they led to a design that was anything but. 

So did it work?

Yup. It did. The new design sells more tickets. We ran the numbers and discovered that it converts 23.5% better. That’s massively exciting to us. It means people who visit your event page have a better experience — and a better first impression of you and your event. And it means more people are going to your event. Ultimately, it means you’re able to grow and strengthen your community better than before.

And THAT means everything to us.

- Beah, VP of Product

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You’re doing stuff that matters. We want to help. Introducing the new event page.

Hi.

I’d like to tell you a mundane story about cookies — and about bringing people together.

Yesterday, as a gift, I got some fancy home baked cookies. Not the sort cut from a tube. The were made from scratch. With love and attention to detail. They had… not one… but TWO kinds of chocolate chips. And they were delicious.

But…

Had they been for sale at my local bakery, I wouldn’t have bought them. Wouldn’t have even considered it. In fact, I’d have been mildly suspicious.

Why? Packaging is why.

These delicious, homemade cookies were not in a tin. Not in a box. They were in a quart sized Ziploc — the kind you seal your toiletries in when you’re flying with carry on.

Presentation matters. A Ziploc bag is fine when gifting cookies to a coworker. But you’re not making cookies.

You’re making something bigger. And we want the world to buy in.

We know event creation is hard. And we love that you do it anyway — you pour your heart and vast amounts of time into it. You do all of this for a reason: to bring people together to experience something great. That’s awesome. It deserves a little presentational excellence. It deserves to look as good online as it does in your dreams. It deserves an event page that lets it siiiingggg…

That’s why, today, we’re launching the world’s best event page.

We hope the new design and social feed speak for themselves (if they don’t, contact me — @beahbl — because I could speak about them for hours) but there is one behind-the-scenes thing that I want to tell you about.

Over the last year, we’ve watched the volume of traffic from mobile devices increase aggressively. Starting in October, we saw something exciting: briefly, here and there, the number of mobile visits would meet and sometimes exceed the desktop number. Late in Dec, the lines crossed:

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So here’s the forecast: I predict that Dec 2013 will be the last month in Ticketleap history in which desktop pageviews outpace mobile. In other words, from this moment forward, your event page on mobile is more important than it is on desktop.

And we think that’s a good thing. Months ago, when we started working on the event page redesign, we made a wager that this trend was real and unstoppable. In fact, I was somewhat tyrannical about it. I refused to review desktop-sized designs until we had something phone-sized that we loved. Thankfully, the team not only indulged my tyranny but came up with possibly the most stunning phone-sized website design I’ve ever seen.

Let us know what you think. And keep making great events. We’ll keep trying to do them justice.

- Beah, VP of Product

P.S. We also updated your event calendar page (or “organization” page) to look equally great.

P.P.S. Want to know more about our new social feed features? Read more in our help center

Our homepage has a fresh face

Two summers ago, we worked with the talented folks at Red Antler to completely redesign our brand. We wrote all about it and remain as happy with it as we were back then. Building from that foundation, today we released our first significant refresh of our homepage and the pages within.

These new pages tell our story. They’re us through and through. Our customers — those who we’re crafting our solution for — are event creators who bring people together for a purpose. We wanted the very first message on our homepage to speak directly to this group and show off some great examples from our current roster of events.

Also re-designed are our pricing pagehow it works pages and about us page. Our fees all happen on a per ticket basis, but even still, there are a couple moving parts and that can be confusing. We think this new page really puts our pricing into perspective for YOUR situation. For how it works, we took some inspiration from Shopify and this classic children book series. Whether you’ve never created an event before, are already running an event but not yet online, or are selling online and are evaluating a switch, we have a story for youCompletely new to our suite of marketing pages are a features page, and my personal favorite, our customers page. Lots of flattering quotes in one place? Yes. Hat tip to banking startup Simple for the inspiration for that one.

Big thanks to everyone involved in this re-design. We’re excited about it and we hope it helps you get to know us a little better.

Event Spotlight: State of Young Philly

Young Involved Philadelphia builds relationships and increases civic engagement to empower and connect young Philadelphians. It may be true that plenty of people think that the young adults of Generation Y don’t do anything to support and grow their communities, but with initiatives like #whyilovephilly, running club, board prep and the State of Young Philly, YIP events chair Mike Kaiser proves them wrong in a big way. Check out more at younginvolvedphila.org.

Event Spotlight: Beerfest Royale

If we didn’t work so close to King of Prussia, we would probably think it was some kind of medieval city with centuries of royal history instead of the epic suburban Philly landmark that it really is. In “KOP” you can have it all- fine restaurants, amazing hotels, top-notch attractions, and of course, shopping fit for royalty. KOP’s Beerfest Royale’s incredible planning committee, headed by KOP’s Executive Director Eric Goldstein, wanted to treat their event goers like kings and queens, plus showcase every bit of specialness that the town has to offer. Did they succeed? Check out the video.

Create! Philadelphia Event Spotlight

Back in November, we hosted our first event, Create! Talks were had, drinks were drank, and songs were sung. Good times were had by all- and man, did we learn a lot about the event creation process. Check out the video above to see how it all went down. 

What we learned selling tickets online (it’s hard)

Last week, we hosted CREATE! at the Arden Theatre. Talks were had, drinks were drank, and songs were sung. Good times were had by all- but the journey to get there wasn’t as easy as we expected. Bottom line: selling tickets to a first time event is hard. Our CEO Tim Raybould wanted to tell you a little bit about how it all went down. Here’s what we learned.

Press Coverage: Geekadelphia

TicketLeap’s Create! Philadelphia [Recap]

By | on November 13, 2013 

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Area ticket purveyor TicketLeap hosted their inaugural Create! Philadelphia event on the evening of November 7 at the Arden Theatre in Old City.  In his opening remarks TicketLeap CEO Tim Raybould described TicketLeap’s philosophy as emphasizing, “events over things.”

“We’ve spent so much time helping others create events,” said Tim, “that I thought it was about time that we created an event of our own.”

The main theme of Create! Philadelphia was of course creation and each of the evening’s three speakers had created big things.  First up was Scott Schroeder, culinary mastermind behind The South Philadelphia Tap Room and American Sardine Bar.  He talked about his start as a teenager peeling beans in the kitchens of Detroit and learning the trade of cooking.

“I never really considered myself an artist,” said Scott before showing the crowd slides of some of his more creative dishes.

“I swear I wasn’t on marijuana when I came up with this,” he’d say before advancing to another picture of an artfully arranged dish made out of seemingly incongruous ingredients.  Scott might not consider  himself an artist but the slides suggested otherwise.

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Next came Thaddeus Squire of Hidden City Philadelphia.  Thaddeus started young as well.  He described his younger self as a “vigilante preservationist.” He recounted tales of urban exploration that culminated in the Hidden City Festival earlier this year.  The festival brought together many disciplines in what Thaddeus called, “adaptive reuse.”  Artists and creative collectives took over and re imagined some of the city’s lost architectural gems to create 10 distinct artistic installations.  Not one to rest on his laurels, Thaddeus is also the founder of Cultureworks, a nonprofit that provides logistical support to the greater Philadelphia cultural community.

The last of the speakers was Tom Kehoe, founder of the Yards Brewing Company.  Yards sprung out of the desire to emulate the dark, full flavored beers and ales that were popular in England.  The name Yards was an homage to this tradition.  Tom and his friends named their fledgling dorm room brewery after Scotland Yard since that was the most British sounding thing they could think of at the time.  As Yards grew they moved out of the dormitory and into a Manayunk boxing gymnasium.   Despite its humble beginnings Yards has grown to become part of the bedrock of the Philadelphia brewing industry.

“What we don’t finish [drinking],” said Tom, “We sell to everyone else.”

Fortunately for the rest of us Yards Brewing Company has significantly increased their capacity over the last two decades.  There is plenty of beer left for Tom to sell.

All of the speakers at Create! started while young and Lucy Stone was no different.  Lucy’s an electric guitar wielding singer/songwriter in her final year at Drexel University pursuing her Bachelor of Science in the Music Industry.  Lucy and her band closed out the event with a live performance.

When asked about expressing her creativity through music, Lucy said, ”I really settled on music when I think I realized that it helped me and made me feel the best about the way that I was expressing my thoughts and feelings and emotions.”  Earlier this year Lucy and her bandmates were on tour with Rusted Root.  They’ll be opening for Rusted Root again on November 14 when they perform at the Ardmore Music Hall.

Once Lucy and her band finished everyone was invited to enjoy some Yards Brewery beers and engage with the speakers.  I caught up with Tim Raybould during the meet and greet and asked if he thought his turn at putting on an event had been a success and if they’d do it again next year.

“Yeah, I’d say it was a success.  Would I do it again next year?  I’d have to sleep on it.”

He quickly reconsidered and added, “Yeah, we’ll do it again next year.”

 

Press Release: Tim Raybould Named CEO of TicketLeap

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Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) November 04, 2013

TicketLeap today names Tim Raybould as President and Chief Executive Officer. Raybould had been the President and Chief Operating Officer since taking over the day to day leadership role from Founder Chris Stanchak this past February.

“Tim has done an excellent job leading the company,” said Stanchak, Board Chairman. “Along with the rest of the Board, I’m excited about the direction we are heading in. Tim taking the CEO title sends a clear message of the Board’s confidence in his capabilities as well as a completion of the transition in leadership.”

“Our team is rocking it right now,” said Raybould. “We’re all focused on one goal — to build the best tool for creating an event and getting the word out there. As CEO, I’ll ensure we continue on this path. A path of innovation, great content, and lots of hustle.”

TicketLeap is a do-it-yourself system for ticketing and event registration focused on showcasing your event online in the best possible light and providing a pleasing experience for event-goers to attend and connect with one another.

TicketLeap’s mission is for more people to create and attend events. Starting with one of their own. Last month, TicketLeap announced their first ever event, called CREATE, taking place next Thursday, November 7th. Along with the event, TicketLeap is offering a sneak peek at a brand new event page design that they’re working on. Check out the page and buy tickets at events.ticketleap.com.

Related links:

5 Reasons to go to Create!

TicketLeap Names Tim Raybould President [Technically Philly] 

Event Spotlight: Fright Factory

In deep South Philly, way past the Target and Ikea and Home Depot, you’ll find a shady-looking building with not much around it. It may appear to be halfway to abandoned, but every fall season, this building transforms into Fright Factory, Philadelphila’s ultimate haunted attraction. Robert Dudzieck, the owner of Fright Factory, told us a little about what it takes to be one of the Scariest Haunts in America (really, the Travel Channel said so!).

If you’re in the Philly area- it’s not too late to get freaked. Fright Factory will run through Saturday, November 2.