For its 11th iteration, Ticket Summit brought in a new wrinkle for 2017 – a series of Workshops for Entrepreneuers, spread throughout Wednesday and Thursday’s schedules. Topics and speakers were chosen to bring a small group learning strategy together for conference attendees, and judging by attendance and participation, the new wrinkle was a hit.
Held in a workshop room adjacent to where the larger keynote and session programs were held, the content was designed to provide a wide array of learning opportunities. Since there was no pre-registration, individuals could come and go as they pleased. One just opted in for a session they felt would help their business, while finding other content or networking opportunities if the workshop going on wasn’t related to their work.
“At attendees’ requests, we have been looking to provide more resources aimed at small business owners in recent years,” said Amanda Farrish, Director of Corporate Events for TicketNetwork and Ticket Summit. The hands-on nature of our workshops [is designed to] arm attendees with the tools they need to build their business.”
The topics of the workshops were:
- Insurance Matters for Small Business Owners
- Mergers and Acquisitions for Ticket Brokers
- How to Understand Financial Statements and Improve Profitability
- Legal Concerns for Ticket Brokers
- Strategies to Grow and Position Your Business
- Business Valuation and Exit Planning
Each seminar held valuable tools for those who chose to take them in, built with a format of give and take, rather than just a presentation. In many instances, it seemed as if the presenters were learning right along with the audience. Many spent substantial time following their presentation having 1-on-1 conversations with people with specific application questions unique to their businesses.
Michael Simon of TixSurance bookended the seminars, presenting “Insurance Matters” on Wednesday morning and again on Thursday afternoon. He presented on his company’s business model of offering policies to hedge against event cancellations or other pitfalls unique to the broker landscape.
“It’s invaluable to me to be able to meet ticket brokers from all over the country, to hear what their needs are, to get a better understanding of what they do and what they’re looking for,” Simon said. “We can share what we do, but we also learn from them while we’re presenting, and find ways for our own innovation, creativity, and growth.”
David Fritz of Boyarski Fritz, LLC also presented his workshop – Legal Concerns for Ticket Brokers – twice. The doubling up allowed those who hadn’t made his first go-round on Wednesday afternoon to catch the second edition, Thursday just before lunch. It also gave those who maybe had some follow-up thoughts to have another bite at the apple in working with the legal expert. When one individual approached Fritz on Thursday to ask if it was the same presentation as the day before, Fritz reassured him – “I can tailor the discussion to your needs,” he told the questioner. “It’s the same presentation, but I’m willing to work with every individual.”
The runaway favorite of the group seemed to be M&A for Ticket Brokers, which was presented by Alex Michael of LionTree. With an overflow crowed spilling into the hallway, it featured a discussion on today’s robust climate for M&A and key trends that could shape ongoing opportunities for companies in the industry.
“I was excited to connect directly with people who are living and breathing these businesses day-to-day, and to gain insight from their unique perspectives. It was great to have the opportunity to explore how M&A could impact the industry’s current landscape with such a dynamic group of interesting businesses and individuals,” said Michael, who had stints at companies including Ticketmaster and LivingSocial prior to his joining LionTree.
All told, it was a casual but fast-paced discussion in a jam-packed room, with quizzes designed to illustrate points on different players in the game, and a healthy dialogue for anyone involved in the industry. Bridging the gap between theory and practice seemed to be the central goal of each workshop. Instead of just showing some slides and handing out some information, it was an interactive atmosphere.
“I’ve never met a textbook I could stay awake reading,” said Michael Montalbano, a Notre Dame professor of Business who presented “Strategies to Grow and Position Your Business” on Thursday morning, which offered a basic overview of classical business strategy, but then dove in on how to customize such strategies to the unique nature of the secondary ticketing marketplace. “You’ll lose everybody’s attention if you can’t say ‘but how does this translate to you.’ What’s in it for me is the question that anyone in that room wants to have answered, so that’s how you try to approach giving a talk like this.”
Ultimately, the value for conference attendees seemed fairly self-evident for these small group sessions with subject matter experts. Whether a particular session was in front of a packed room, or 20-30 devotees, the exchange of ideas and conversational flow was clearly indicative of the utility that these conversations brought to the table.