Terry Wilcher and his 123 Tix online ticket booking service recently won “Regional Business of the Year” at the 2018 Western NSW Regional Business Awards, and will now go on to represent the region at the statewide NSW Business Chamber Awards in Sydney in November.
How did 123 Tix start? From an idea for a school musical in 2014. My children go to Macquarie Anglican Grammar School and they put on a school musical for the first time. They asked for parents to contribute to the musical and they needed someone for ticketing and putting a program together. I thought it would be pretty cool to sell the tickets online, so I did a bit of research and found that there was no one who sold tickets regionally.
From there I had about four months to get it to work so that people could go online and purchase a ticket, then we could allocate a seat, but it was very manual. We had an A3 piece of paper with a floor plan of all the seats and as we sold a ticket we would allocate those people to a seat.
About eight weeks before the event I thought that it would be cool to have a scanner to scan the tickets just like Ticketek and Ticketmaster.
I had no idea how to do it, so I found someone who was able to write the technology and put it together. The app itself worked on the night, it was only ready that afternoon, so it all fell into place.
What is your background?
I’m a web developer and I’ve built websites for the last 13 years, but I was a high school dropout. I left school in Year 10. I have no qualifications and no marketing skills – everything I’ve done has been self-taught.
I was also a stay-at-home dad who raised four kids while my wife (an accountant) went back to work. My oldest is 14 and the youngest is seven. I’ve seen things that most men would miss out on. Before that I was a photographer for many years in Sydney, so I’ve always had that artistic flair.
When did the business really kick off?
It didn’t start officially until 2015. We ran some events and sourced some organisers. They tested the platform for us and got it all working.
In the meantime, I contacted NSW Cancer Council because they were running the Dancing With the Stars events. I donated all the services and it went pretty smoothly. From that day on I thought “we’ve really got something here”, a unique niche that’s regionally based.
I put some protection in place, so now it’s all trademarked and I own the NZ, UK and American domains, so if we want to go global we can.
In the early days it was a Thermomix cooking class fest – they’re the only tickets we used to sell. Now we do massive festivals like the ABBA and Elvis festivals, and the Dubbo Show.
The Dubbo Show this year broke the record for ticket sales online at 7000. Since we started we are heading towards a quarter of a million ticket sales and it’s growing at about 180 per cent. We’re growing faster than we can handle which is a really good problem to have.
You also help local charities?
We’ve donated so much to charities. Just the other night there was an event at the RSL Club and we sold the tickets for it and we raised $150,000 for that person.
We are sponsoring the Dubbo Eisteddfod this year, so all ticket sales are coming through our system and all the money is going back into the eisteddfod. We can give accurate numbers of who is attending, it’s all about accountability and data collection.
Have you had any problems with organisers?
We have had organisers sign up who are actually money launderers and we were lucky enough to catch one the other day. An organiser will sign up and the event will never take place, they have stolen credit cards and they feed the credit cards in hoping that we send the money to them. We have a mechanism in place to catch them.
We caught one the other day – it took us three minutes, we have all their details and the authorities are now onto that. The police complimented us on how good it was that we were able to give them so much information about this person.
Best advice to someone starting a new business?
The message would be: don’t be scared to try something if you’ve got an idea – then don’t let anyone say you can’t do it because you can if you put your mind to what you want to do. What we’ve achieved hasn’t been handed to us – it’s been long hours, but I love getting up every morning wanting to come to work.
The more that we develop, the more I get excited about doing it – it’s like a healthy drug. It’s got nothing to do with money and it never has been about the money. It’s about producing something that gives enjoyment to other people.
- Interview & photo by Wendy Merrick