This story is part of the first annual Solutions Issue, sponsored by Atlanta International School. With this special report and the inaugural ATL Solutions Summit, Global Atlanta is spotlighting innovators solving global problems with market-oriented solutions emanating from Atlanta.
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For venues, empty seats mean lost revenue and a bad look on camera.
Beyond that, Tickets for Good believes missing attendees can also mean a missed opportunity for community appreciation and employee engagement.
Born just before the pandemic, the U.K.-based company has built a platform that allows venues and organizers to distribute surplus tickets for sporting events, concerts and theater performances at a free or discounted rate to deserving recipients who otherwise may not be able to afford them.
Georgia-born Trip Barnes, head of partnerships for Tickets for Good U.S., remembers his first baseball game with his dad and when his musical tastes forever changed when he saw Bob Dylan and Outkast at the same Music Midtown event in Atlanta 20 years ago.
“It was very pivotal,” he said during a discussion with Global Atlanta at the inaugural ATL Solutions Summit, a breakfast Thursday presented by Atlanta International School at the headquarters of CARE in downtown Atlanta.
Providing access to what the company calls its “3D model” of tickets — donated, distressed or discounted — is a win-win-win, Mr. Barnes says.
Not only does it help do-gooders and their families access the life-changing power of cultural experiences, but it also provides an economic boost for the venues.
“You’re also stimulating the economy within Atlanta itself,” he said, by boosting concessions revenues, contributing to a lively in-person atmosphere and improving optics for venues in a media landscape where appearance can feel like reality.
Tickets for Good, of course, gets some revenue in the process: For matching the ticket with a network of members gleaned from employee rolls of nonprofits, governments and companies, the company takes a small booking fee.
Tickets for Good saw its first real traction as the U.K. started to emerge from the pandemic, when it focused on rewarding the frontline workers of the National Health Service who helped keep the country open.
“We knew that people were overworked because of the pandemic, for sure, so we wanted to have an outlet for people to be able to enjoy these events and have that sense of being back into the social fabric of things post- pandemic,” Mr. Barnes said.
Partnering with the NHS helped the company get to some scale on the user side in what is essentially a marketplace business where the suppliers — venues, mainly — are looking to get tickets distributed to vetted recipients.
The company is ramping up in the U.S. and will launch here fully in December, with a particular focus on Atlanta, New York and Orlando.
To generate ticket supply, discussions are being held with major Atlanta sports teams, stadiums and event venues, aided by influential introductions that came through participation in the Comcast SportsTech Accelerator this year.
Comcast NBC Universal’s network includes major national organizations like WWE, the PGA Tour and NASCAR, but Tickets for Good is also looking to attract a mix of smaller spaces to ensure variety, says co-founder and CEO Stephen Rimmer.
Companies that would rather donate tickets to charity than see them go to waste when plans change are also welcome to join the platform, said Mr. Rimmer, who is still based in Sheffield, England, but is now spending more time in Atlanta, the beachhead for the company’s U.S. arm.
On the member side, Tickets for Good is looking to add to the more than 250,000 users and half-million tickets distributed on its platform by signing up hospitals, school districts and nonprofits, the latter being “probably the No. 1 priority,” Mr. Rimmer said.
An ideal case is a large employer with a centralized credentialing system that their staff can use to access the Tickets for Good Platform.
The company is also piloting a program for private-sector employers that may want to use Tickets for Good’s “affordable tickets” program to provide a benefit to qualifying lower-wage workers. (In the U.K., it launched a nationwide ticket bank in September to support 8 million people in the country who have received government cost-of-living payments.) Integrations with Ticketmaster, TDC, AXS and other event retailers have already been completed.
Ramping Up From Atlanta
Mr. Rimmer visited Atlanta for the first time only in April, when he came to pitch at the Comcast SportsTech Accelerator’s demo day. The company’s love affair with the city has heated up quickly since.
“I got a really good sense from both my visit to The Battery, various parts of the city, and then to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium that there was a welcoming perspective running through all of my interactions and especially a focus on support for the community,” Mr. Rimmer told Global Atlanta.
That crystallized with the accelerator, which selected Tickets for Good as one of 10 startups in its third cohort picked out of 920 applicants from 40 countries. As part of the deal, Comcast took a stake in the company, joining early stage investors like singer Robbie Williams and Bethnall Green Ventures.
But the Atlanta momentum wasn’t confined to the area around Truist Park. The city’s sports and music scene, ample tree cover (Sheffield is also green), proximity to Florida and accessible airport helped persuade the company it should expand nationwide from here, Mr. Rimmer said.
Tickets for Good also experienced a textbook case of what Atlanta boosters say is an uncommonly collaborative ecosystem.
Soon after arrival, Mr. Rimmer got coveted to Tom Woodley at the British Consulate General’s lead for creative industry and sports tech, who put him in touch with Laurie Prickett, a former consulate employee now at Invest Atlanta, who connected him with Ania Lackey, director of partnerships at Atlanta Tech Village.
“All of which has fast tracked our development in leaps and bounds, and meant that it was an easy decision, both to adopt ATV as our offices, and the city of Atlanta in general as our new home base, and then to register to do business in the state of Georgia, which we have just received our certification for) with the support of our Atlanta-based lawyer David Pierce of Founder Legal,” Mr. Rimmer said.
So far, Tickets for Good estimates that it has saved audience members more than £10 million in the U.K., but it sees huge opportunity in the U.S., where equity is a hot-topic, inflation is driving up the cost of entertainment and employee engagement is paramount in a war for talent.
“We’re kind of at a crossroads in technology, where we realize it’s not just for profit, profit profit,” Mr. Barnes said during the Global Atlanta event.
“I think people are kind of moving to that more altruistic understanding of what technology can do globally.”