In 2010, Brad Smith did what a lot of entrepreneurs cannot do: he made his wife CEO of TicketForce, the Mesa-based company the couple co-founded in 2003.
“He felt that my planning and forecasting skills were what we needed to take the company to the next level,” said Lynne King Smith.
The move worked. Over the next four years, the company is projected to triple its revenue. Az Business talked with Smith about how she helped grow TicketForce.
Az Business: How did you get into the ticket business?
Lynne King Smith: It was a beautiful accident. We had a nonprofit corporation in the 1990s and built a mailing database for organizations that worked with youth and teens. When concert promoters would come in, they would utilize us to help get their word out. Little by little, we began doing more with events. At some point, somebody asked us to put tickets online so they could avoid TicketMaster fees. My husband came home and said, “I started a ticketing company today, and I’m putting 7,000 tickets on sale Saturday.” It just kind of grew from there.
AB: What separates TicketForce from your competition?
LKS: There are a lot of companies who consider themselves technology companies who happen to be in the event space. The way we promote ourselves is that we are event people who can also deliver technology. We put ticketing software in box offices and venues across the country. We have a lot of one-time events that don’t need a ticketing system year-round, and we can run everything for them.
AB: How important is innovation to your success?
LKS: Innovation for me is finding solutions for people. It’s one thing to build technology; it’s another thing to be able to give people the tools they need to utilize the technology to their advantage.
AB: What has been your biggest challenge?
LKS: The space is very crowded, which is great because it brings competition and innovation, but there are companies that dilute the pricing. There is a lot of venture capital in this market. They have to get their business built up, and it doesn’t matter if it’s profitable. That’s a huge challenge for our sales team, but we keep doing what we do best and seek clients who are interested in a long-term, quality business relationship.
AB: What makes you an effective leader for TicketForce?
LKS: My life motto is to never, never, never give up, and I think that’s the only difference for entrepreneurs and business owners who are still in business versus those who are not.
AB: What are your goals for TicketForce over the next decade?
LKS: I think some of the other ticket companies are going to sell or fade away. They cannot keep going at non-profitability forever. Within the next decade, we feel there (are) going to be five or 10 solid ticket companies left and we want to be in the top five.