Within 11 minutes, 1500 tickets worth £80,000 were sold. Behind the legendary ticket sale for the 2014 Kate Kennedy Club May Ball was FIXR, the London-based mobile ticketing company founded by two St Andrews graduates.
Hugh Hudleston and Edmund Glover met in an English class in their second year at St Andrews. Hudleston helped set up the University yachting team, and Glover was president of the Snowsports Club. Both remember selling tickets at St Andrews with bitter nostalgia.
“We both sold tickets at St Andrews, which was basically standing in the cold outside the library,” recalls Glover.
And that’s where the idea for FIXR was born. The mobile app allows users to search for nightlife events, pay for tickets via their phones, and then have mobile tickets delivered electronically to be scanned at the door of events, all safe from the everlasting, umbrella-proof St Andrews’ drizzle.
FIXR’s business strategy seemed straightforward and bound for success, especially given the booming UK mobile app industry in 2013, the year in which the company was founded. According to the most recent Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, UK adults’ smartphone penetration rate grew from 52 per cent to 85 per cent in the five years leading to 2017. Consequently, the mobile app industry also exploded: from £4 billion in 2014 to £28 billion now. The founders of FIXR entered the fray at a right time – or so it seems.
Although the idea of mobile ticketing was a breath of fresh air to the untapped UK clubbers’ and nightlife lovers’ market, FIXR encountered problems from the get-go.
“Nightclub customers are a disparate audience and one which is therefore very expensive to reach; it was also hard to build long term relationships with nightclubs, because staff in that industry typically churn frequently,” Glover told The Saint.
The ah-ha moment came when FIXR was asked to be a major ticket distributor for the 2014 May Ball. The exceptionally high smartphone penetration rate and a more trusting mindset towards visual tickets among St Andrews students revitalised the company. According to the founders, FIXR did more business through that one event than it had done in the six months since its inception. The key decision to pivot its target market from high-end clubbers to university students happened shortly after the legendary success.
Although FIXR has served more than 20 markets so far in UK, the company bears special affection for St Andrews. Apart from pure nostalgia, there were also rational reasons for the two founders to choose St Andrews as their first university students market.
“Behind only Oxbridge, St Andrews students run the most ambitious parties of any UK university,” says Glover, “And St Andrews events don’t have the same advantages of history and university financial backing as Oxbridge.”
These grassroots event organisers are excellent clients for FIXR as the company boasts the ability to offer the cheapest booking fees and easy access to ticket funds.
Looking ahead, FIXR has reasons to set ambitious goals. The company managed a 300 per cent sales growth last year and had acquired over 30 clients including the Oxford Union, LSE, and Wicked Student Nights. The macro market conditions are also looking good. Although there are no hard statistics on the exact size of the students’ nightlife mobile ticketing market, FIXR’s two founders estimate that in the universities in which FIXR is active, 30 to 70 per cent of all students have bought a ticket on FIXR. The company is also poised to take on long-term growth – it has built sustainable relationships with clients as many event organizers continue to use FIXR after they graduate.
Despite its remote location, St Andrews is an excellent incubator for potential entrepreneurs, claim the two founders.
“So many St Andrews students are seduced by a corporate or investment banking life, it seems a shame that more of them don’t go on to start their own businesses; after all, running events provides such good training for would-be entrepreneurs,” says Glover.
Indeed, if the committee for the Charity Fashion Show is twice the size of FIXR, what’s a better practice field for aspiring future business leaders than St Andrews?
Those interested in using FIXR for ticketing their events should contact Alice Evans, FIXR’s St Andrews representative, at firstname.lastname@example.org.