Feature

Meet the Saint John Startup Changing the Ticket Industry

Around 2012, most people stopped being scared of buying things on the Internet.

They also realized it was a magical place to score a sweet deal.

It’s in this environment where Spinzo came to be.

Spinzo is a demand-based pricing platform where corporations like sports teams can run promotions for group purchases where the final price depends on the number of committed buyers. Prices drop as people participate, and everyone pays the final low price.

“It was at the time of Groupon and those companies. When they started, they had a premise where if 50 or more people want to buy a pizza, then they all get it for half price,” says Spinzo CEO Emmanuel Elmajian.

“That’s an interesting concept, but we felt that their concept wasn’t so business friendly because their platform wasn’t white labeled to the business.”

In other words, if you’re a business and you wanted to sell something, you would have to put it on Groupon. Though this works for some businesses, it can be demeaning for some others.

“We decided to make a white label service. Let us be the engine that allows the business to launch their own promotion. Secondly, the price should literally depend on how many people want the product,” Elmajian says.

Over the course of a couple of years, they found Spinzo’s model works best in the ticketing world. It was a natural extension of how a team would do group sales.

Sports teams and ticketing companies often want to offer group discounts on ticket prices but that only works well when you sell enough to make the discount worthwhile. Those promotions can come with a lot of risk for the teams and organizations hosting them.

“Spinzo solves that, where the price of an offer literally depends on the number of people that participate and everyone is charged at the end of the promotion for the final price,” Elmajian says.

“What that does for the team is it creates a viral incentive for their fans to spread the word, because they want to get as many people as possible into the promotion.”

Right now, Spinzo’s clients include the Arizona Coyotes, the Phoenix Suns, the Washington Wizards and we will be working with multiple WNBA and WHL teams this summer. In the off-season, they plan to onboard a couple more NHL teams, but details about that are under wraps, for now.

In the future, Elmajian says they want to expand into the concert realm, as well as to help clients utilize the platform more.

“A team could use Spinzo for all its group sales if they want to. Right now they’re using it for targeted promotional group sales. But what we’re finding is that sports teams find Spinzo to be a terrific platform to sell additional tickets, but also to engage their groups better,” he says.

“They’re showing an interest to use it potentially for all their group sales down the road. That’s a huge opportunity for us.”

Elmajian was born and raised in Saint John, but has spent time in Silicon Valley working for Google, as well as in New York for McKinsey & Company Consulting Group. Basically, he’s been in the centre of the action with companies doing it right. So… why come back here?

“There’s a growing ecosystem of startups here and there’s a periphery of people that want to make startups succeed here, and that’s something new that hadn’t existed here. Innovation always existed here, but it was more large company innovation, NBTel and companies like that. Now, it’s almost like the torch has been passed to smaller companies to innovate.”

Elmajian’s advice for building a game-changing company in New Brunswick? Get out of the province– because that’s where the majority of your future customers will be.

“It takes a village to make a startup, and New Brunswick is starting to get that village to form. So there’s no reason why startups can’t make it work from here, as long as you travel around to seek the opportunities,” he says. “Venture out of New Brunswick, discover the opportunity . . . then come back to New Brunswick and execute upon the opportunity.”

Though the startup community has grown since Spinzo first started, Elmajian says there’s still need for improvement, particularly on the funding front.

“There are funding sources, but I think startups could use more. And I think there’s a ways we can go on building more of a culture of entrepreneurship,” he says.

“To make this as robust an ecosystem as say, Waterloo [Ontario] or Silicon Valley, there’s a lot more that needs to be done. We need perhaps another decade to get there, but we’re on the path. And if New Brunswick can see a few more successes, then I think we’ll get there.”