Talking Small Biz: He's taking a leap forward in ticketing

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Chris Stanchak says he's not trying to compete with Ticketmaster.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Chris Stanchak says he's not trying to compete with Ticketmaster.
Posted: January 29, 2013

C HRIS STANCHAK, 35, a Wharton grad who lives in Center City, is CEO of TicketLeap, an online ticketing and event-marketing firm he founded in 2003. The company, on Walnut Street near 24th, has 25 employees. In 2012, it handled $55 million in gross ticket sales on its platform, which is integrated into social-media sites.

Q: What was the idea for the business?

A: A buddy was having a party at a club he wanted to sell tickets to, and asked me to build a Web-based system to process ticket sales for the event, but it got canceled. I submitted a business plan to the Wharton Venture Initiation Program and it got accepted. We were one of the first four companies in the program.

Q: What does the business do?

A: The online platform lets an event organizer of any size manage all ticket sales through one system. You don't need a venue-based box office. There's also an app on the Apple store and Android that connects to the platform, which is hosted on Amazon. So we can scale to handle almost any size event.

Q: What's behind the name?

A: I wanted ticket to be part of it and looked at words after ticket, and leap was available. It's jumping ahead of the competition.

Q: What distinguishes TicketLeap from its competitors?

A: Whenever anyone thinks about ticketing they think of Ticketmaster. They are the strongest player in arena-level ticketing, where we don't really compete. We're strongest in the small- to mid-size market, do-it-yourself ticketing. Basically, people can come to our website and the platform takes care of it all for them. Eventbrite, out of San Francisco, has a model similar to ours.

Q: Tell me about the customers.

A: The Sierra Nevada brewery [in California] found our platform and started putting up promotional events on our website. Now they manage everything through us. There's tons of examples like that around the country and overseas. We sell tickets as far away as Australia. We also work with organizations like the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance's Funsavers, which is basically discounted ticketing for cultural organizations around the city.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you faced growing the business?

A: When I started TicketLeap I didn't have any friends or family to invest in it. I got some money from an SBA loan, but didn't raise any outside capital until 2007. As we began to raise money, I rebooted and hired a CTO to take us to the next level. That was 2010, when the platform launched.

Q: What's next for TicketLeap?

A: Venue-based ticketing, where a box office and software and hardware is installed on site, will become passe, and ticketing will be completely mobile and the promoter/artist controls it.

Q: How does TicketLeap get revenue?

A: Our fees are about $2 per ticket sold.


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