by Bill Burman – Special to TicketNews

On an early summer morning in Houston, fresh off his first daily 5 am workout (he works out twice a day), Marcus Stern sits at his desk, reminiscing about the early days of his career in tickets.

“Imagine,” the 47-year-old Co-Founding Partner and President of AnyTickets says, leaning forward, his busy office overflowing with concert memorabilia and family photos, “lining up at the local places to get tickets, making sure you were first in line, buying the tickets, then selling them and seeing the type of money you can make on one transaction.” For a seventeen-year-old kid, recalls Stern, “It’s like, wow, this is pretty cool.”

ticketflipping provides valuable tools for ticket resale professionals
Marcus Stern
Marcus Stern

Stern’s journey into the world of ticketing wasn’t a straight path. In 1993, he was working at a garden center when his sister encouraged him to try selling tickets. Armed with a love for live music, particularly old-school rap, and a knack for business, he gave it a shot. In his 20s, Stern dove headfirst into the industry, building skills and perfecting his sales methods as he went along. “Back then, it was all about having the biggest ad in the phone book so that people would call you first,” he recalls with a chuckle. “The ads,” he says “had to start with AAA so you’d be at the top alphabetically, because that’s what customers did, they went down the line when the show went on sale and they called.”

But then came the moment that transformed everything: the launch of TicketMaster.com.

“Our own TicketMaster machine,” Stern marvels, “right on our desk where we can look at tickets! That’s when our lives changed: now instead of just buying tickets for the Houston area, we can buy tickets all over the world. It’s a huge overwhelming feeling like, wow, the sky’s the limit now.”

“I’m not just going after three venues,” Stern says, recalling his revelation, “now I can go to every venue in the world.”

And going after the world is exactly what Stern did.

This digital revolution flipped a switch for Stern, igniting a passion that would lead him to co-found AnyTickets, a company that has since transformed the lives of countless ticket brokers.

ticketflipping provides valuable tools for ticket resale professionals

The transition to online ticket sales was a game-changer, propelling Stern and his partners to new heights. With Chris Bonner, Co-Founding Partner, Deric Margolis, Partner, David Jacobs, CIO, and Matt Moran, COO, they quickly established themselves as one of the top Secondary Market leaders providing choice inventory at wholesale prices. Throughout the years, AnyTickets has evolved from being the top B2B wholesale distributor to becoming one of the top marketplace sellers in the US and Internationally.

AnyTickets

Today, far from the days of making sure their ads appeared at the top of the newspaper ‘for sale’ columns, AnyTickets hit close to $1Billion in sales post-Covid and stands as a beacon of success in the ticketing industry.

The secret to their success, according to Stern: is innovative financial solutions and a deep commitment to client satisfaction that stems from an intimate understanding of where their clients are coming from and what they want to achieve.

“Chris and I started the business with basically zero money.” says Stern. “We borrowed 50 grand from David Jacobs, AnyTickets’ CIO, and it took us years of reinvesting the money that we made to be able to start our Partner Program.”

“We’ve dealt with all the aspects of this business,” Stern continues. “We were the guys waiting for our check from TicketsNow so we could pay our Amex bill. We understand brokers and what brokers go through. We work with mini versions of ourselves and it’s great helping our partners grow their business.”

And that kind of personal care and attention has paid off for many of the “mini versions” who have worked with AnyTickets, often many times over.

Stern recounts a particularly inspiring story of a group of brokers who joined AnyTickets in 2018.  “I remember there was this one group of guys,” Stern says, “They were smart ticket brokers, they were each probably making a hundred grand max per year.”

“These days, after partnering with us,” Stern says, “they are all millionaires now. They’re buying beach homes, they’re living the dream. They’re focused on their business, buying and selling tickets, and we do the rest.”

This transformation isn’t just about financial success; it’s about the profound impact on people’s lives. Marcus takes pride in the ripple effect AnyTickets has had.

The Partner Program’s success is a point of personal pride for Stern. “I think about how many partners we have, then I multiply how many employees they have, and then I multiply how many overseas employees they have,” Stern says, his eyes lighting up as he works out the math.

“We created over a thousand jobs through our business. You put that into perspective and it’s like, look at all the jobs we generated from doing this business, pretty much from scratch. It’s great.”

The company’s “hands-off” management style, combined with personal support, sets AnyTickets apart. Stern and his team understand the ticketing business inside and out, having navigated its challenges themselves, and that means they know how to assist a partner without having to hold their hands or keep them on rails.

“Brokers come to us not only for the money but for the freedom that allows them to focus on their business, ” Stern says. “And they don’t want to be micromanaged. they understand the process and how to do things.” At the same time, Stern says that AnyTickets can be there to help their partners as much as they like. “We’re available at any time and that’s a big part of it for us.”

One key to AnyTickets’ success is its innovative approach to financial solutions. The company offers flexible options like converting inventory into cash, which has proven invaluable for brokers, in the US and Internationally. By addressing issues like delayed payments and long event lead times, AnyTickets enables brokers to run their operations more efficiently and profitably.

Another pillar of the company’s success is its strong relationships with all the leading marketplaces. Known for their reliability and low rejection rate, AnyTickets is a trusted partner in the industry, simplifying transactions and fostering trust. This reputation has been built on years of consistent performance and a deep understanding of the ticketing space.

Growth at AnyTickets is largely driven by referrals, a testament to the company’s reputation and client satisfaction. “The majority of our partners, they’re mainly referrals. We’ve done a little bit of advertising in the past, but we’re not a hard sell. We don’t go out there and interview someone and call them 100 times, send them emails, and do all that. You’re either a fit or you’re not.”

In addition to helping brokers grow, or scale, their businesses, AnyTickets also partners with venues, sports teams, promoters, and artists, to maximize their profit margins.  Their team of industry experts can elevate and create a demand for certain events that might not have been as successful. AnyTickets takes pride in being recognized as a trusted brand who brings a lot of value to these partnerships.

Internally, AnyTickets boasts a vibrant company culture, contributing to its low employee turnover rate. Many employees have been with the company for over a decade, some over 20 plus years, a rarity in today’s job market. Marcus attributes this stability to rewarding employees well, offering great benefits, profit sharing, and hosting memorable office parties. “Our parties are legendary,” he says with a smile. “We’ve had mainstream acts like 2 Chainz perform. It’s all about creating a positive and motivating environment.”

As Stern looks to the future, he remains committed to expanding AnyTickets’ network and fostering strong partnerships. The company leverages industry events like NATB’s World Ticket Conference and supporting organizations such as the Coalition for Ticket Fairness, to connect with brokers and discuss opportunities. Marcus emphasizes the importance of supporting these groups to maintain ticket transferability amid regulatory challenges.

In the end, it’s the personal satisfaction that drives Stern, and that’s only possible because of the deep well of genuine experience the AnyTickets team has earned through hard-fought battles over the years. “We help our partners build their business and alleviate some of the pitfalls that we went through,” says Stern. “We want to help all of our partners get to the next level.”

“You need real ticket people who actually understand the business just like we do along with our partners, to fully understand what everybody’s going through.”

Marcus Stern’s journey from a garden center to the helm of AnyTickets is a testament to the power of passion, innovation, and unwavering commitment to client success. As he continues to lead the company forward, the impact of his work will undoubtedly resonate through the lives of many more in the years to come.

Whether you’re attending the World Ticket Conference, or not, check out AnyTickets’ new Partner site, here’s the link: AnyTickets Partner Program

Bill Burman is a writer and reality television producer living in Los Angeles