A Long Climb to the Top

9 September 2019 - Geir Anders Rybakken Ørslien/Spoon

When Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg tells the story of how TicketCo became a success, most of what we hear is a long series of disasters and a headstrong customer from Sogndal.

Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg– The Bergen Beer Festival; OMG! That must be the worst day of my life as an entrepreneur!

Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg can laugh now, but that hot summer day in 2013 was bloody serious. He had no idea success was waiting for him some years ahead. Today, TicketCo is considered an innovative challenger making headway in the event market. The service lets users purchase anything from tickets to food, beverages, accommodations and merchandise using a simple app. So far, more than 40 000 events have been managed for over 2000 customers, and the figures are pointing to the skies.

NO ONE ELSE TO BLAME

There were little of that reminded of success back in the summer of 2013.

"We managed to convince the beer festival people to use our solution by making all beer vouchers available on our app. We made yellow TicketCo jackets for our employees, and I was looking forward to wandering the streets and enjoying the sight of so many satisfied app users at the festival. But the system was entirely new, and something went wrong. Everything broke down. Nobody could buy beer; everything just stopped. Wearing that jacket was no fun anymore. Wherever we looked someone was yelling and complaining at us. My co-founder had tried to fix the technical problems for 24-hours when we got some poor guy from the copy shop out of bed to come to work at five in the morning, on a Saturday, to print paper vouchers. It was real bad. But we solved the problem as we always do: We took responsibility, we did not blame anyone else – and we worked like crazy to provide our customer with a solution."

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

This is not the only disaster Moberg can tell us about. The story behind TicketCo is a story about will power, optimism and some real daring. However, the key to today’s success is hidden somewhere in how you deal with disappointment and mistakes along the way.

Moberg said that, as an entrepreneur, you should expect to face a lot of resistance along the way.

"Things are going to go wrong, and it will hurt, but you need to recognise that all the responsibility rests on your shoulders. If you fail to accept responsibility for your actions, you will never learn. In our experience, customers will trust you if you can prove you accept that responsibility. The Bergen beer festival is still one of our customers. Satisfied customers!"

Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg has always been a businessman at heart. As a teenager he charged an entry fee to home-alone parties that he forgot to ask his parents permission for. Great music, a cool crown and a smoke machine in the basement was the idea. He borrowed his father's boat and rented out his own waterski for 100 kroner per trip – half price if you failed to launch it. As a BI student he rented the Color Line ferry to Hirtshals and filled it with 1200 students, creating a riotous party cruise and lost money when it all was over. The following summer he rented DFDS Seaways to England instead, this time making a profit and getting his money back.Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg

STUCK WITH A TICKETING SYSTEM THEY HAD NO USE FOR.

It was no surprise that young Moberg was headhunted at the age of 22 years as marketing director for a nightlife service company with 15 localities and 150 employees. He learned a lot in those years together with the man who would join him on his TicketCo venture.

"Kåre and I wanted to take our student cruise concept to the ski resort in Hemsedal, so we booked a thousand beds there to create a festival. We were not happy with any of the ticketing systems that existed on the market, so we decided to make our own cell-phone based solution. The only problem was that we failed to attract enough people to the festival, so we had to cancel. We were stuck with a ticketing system that we had no use for. Our solution of course was to try and sell the service to others!”

FINDING TALENT

The road ahead from there was long and difficult, but the founders of TicketCo played with an open hand and contacted talented people to show them their plans. That led to some very useful input, and important partners.

"We got the people who started ItsLearning on board, and we called the king of sponsorships, Jacob Lund, to show him our case. He invited Jorgen Roll to join, the previous Norwegian Wood festival boss, and current director of the Oslo Concert House. Lund came along as both investor and board member, and Roll was an important contact within the industry. Amedia joined us later as co-owner and a spot on the board of directors, so we could establish cooperation with local newspapers around the country. TicketCo was then contacted by the Sogndal football who wanted to use their system. But we declined," Moberg said.

"We had a tailor-made and complex solution for festivals and concerts, but our solution was not right for a football club. Egil Mundal from Sogndal called us back and surprised us. He said, ‘I will not accept no for an answer!’.

“They insisted on using our service. Kåre said, we just have to make it work. We learned a lot from Sogndal and they helped us develop the best sporting industry ticketing system on the market. We are still the largest ticketing supplier for sporting activities in Norway. We run half the OBOS league tickets and the whole elite series, and we are making serious headway into the international sports market. We have Sogndal to thank for that!”Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg

EYES ON EUROPE

TicketCo's users purchased for 600 million kroner through the TicketCo app in 2018, and the company had operating revenues of 26.5 million kroner by the end of the year. But Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg has left their headquarters in Bergen long ago. London is his new base. He commutes from his family home in Os, just south of Bergen, with plans to bring TicketCo to Europe. His method is still the same: Meet customers face to face.

"I have spent a lot of time with entrepreneurs. The ones that succeed are the ones who get out there and talk to their customers. That is where you hear the truth. You can sit at the office and think as much as you want about a good idea. But, before you talk to a customer who might be willing and able to pay for your product, your idea is just a fantasy.

As Mike Tyson says: Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face."


Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg

Title: Chief Sales Officer
 and co-founder TicketCo
BI degree: Bachelor of Marketing and Executive Master of Management programme

Reference: Advantage #1/2019

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