This interview is presented to you by the University of Nebraska — Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration
By: Amari Dryden, @Amari_Dryden
Anthony Beyrouti is the founder and President of VenueKings, a ticket broker firm based out of Vancouver, B.C., Canada that specializes in concerts, sports and theatre events across North America. When he was in high school, he and a group of friends wanted tickets to their hometown team’s games. So, they called the team and bought some. There was a game no one wanted to go to, so Beyrouti ended up selling the tickets to someone and made a couple hundred dollars by accident.
“I thought, ‘Wait a second. This could be an opportunity.’ So, I decided to grow it from there.”
When Beyrouti started VenueKings, it began in a one bedroom apartment with one other guy. They slowly started adding people and, in turn, had to move offices a couple times to accommodate the growing number of employees. They now have more than 20 people working in their office.
“The idea, which people often forget is not to necessarily drive revenue, but to actually make money. We’ve been caught in a situation where we’re driving a lot of revenue, but we need to maintain the ability to make money so we can continue to do what we’re doing. As you continue to grow, things become harder, so we need to become more inventive and find new opportunities to continue to keep things growing.”
But like any entrepreneur, he faced challenges when creating VenueKings. Because Beyrouti was young when he started VenueKings, he didn’t really know what he was doing.
“I had to learn everything from the ground up at the beginning. On top of that, we didn’t have funding to grow the business. You have to make money in order to buy more stuff so that we could continue to grow. We had to help more people get to events, which was the only way we could grow. We can only do it if we take care of people and that’s what we did. People returned the favor by buying more tickets. It’s a cycle of creating opportunities for people; if you take care of them, they’ll allow you to stay in business.”
Being resilient is the quality he stressed helped him the most. When starting a business, people are going to tell you ‘no’ many times or that it isn’t going to work or believe in the purpose of the business.
“You can read about any successful person and they’ve heard ‘no’ a lot. You have to continually find ways to invigorate yourself to keep going, which is one thing we were able to do. It can wear on you, but you keep going.”
His favorite part of his job is giving people the opportunity to go to games they really want to go to and have fun. He also loves getting to travel and meet the teams he gets to see play.
“Something I was just working on was getting tickets for someone who wants to go to the Alabama vs. Ole Miss game, which I got to go to a couple years ago. It was the first time Ole Miss had beaten Alabama at home in a long time. They ended up storming the field and tearing down the goal posts. It was such a cool environment to see and something I’ll remember forever. Being able to help create experiences like that is always nice.”
Taking special take of his customers is how he competes with other ticket sellers like Ticketmaster and StubHub. He makes sure his customers never want to go anywhere else.
“You have to take advantage of what you’re good at. We’re not good at what they’re good at. Ticketmaster can say to someone the event is sold out so buy tickets from a secondary vendor here. We don’t have that opportunity. StubHub has the ability to go on ESPN and tell people to buy tickets on their site. You have to find unique ways to get people to buy from you and take the chance and when they take that chance you have to make sure you take care of them so they never want to go anywhere else which is what we specialize in.”
His advice for anyone starting a business is to stay away from inventory based business because banks don’t understand it, nor care for it. They believe the inventory is going to expire, but Beyrouti’s job is to sell the inventory. Banks are scared of inventory, which causes a lot of problems when companies try to scale up.
“You want something that doesn’t necessarily take more cash. You want the ability to sell more or do something more and not have more cash because you can always run out of cash. I would be selective in what you’re buying. There are multiple ways to create value for people and if you can do that you can do just about any business.”
We would like to thank Anthony for his time and insight and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors! You can connect with him on LinkedIn!