Annika Monari and Alan Vey, graduates from London Imperial College and founders of ticketing solutions provider Aventus, know two things: the ticketing industry has a problem, and they have a solution.
What is blockchain, and how did you become interested in the technology?
Aninka: The easiest way to explain blockchain is by looking at how things have changed over time with technology. If you look way back, when post was the main way of communicating and people wrote letters to each other, we depended on big institutions to allow ourselves to talk to each other. If the post offices disappeared, or manipulated post, we would have no control over it.
Then the internet came along and completely changed how we could communicate and share things with each other. It’s a similar thing with financial institutions. Before you could use blockchain to send money around, we depended on governments and big banks to facilitate value transfer, but now with blockchain we can transfer value according to a set of rules that both parties agree to, that can’t be circumvented. Blockchain lets us represent value online and transfer it to each other without having to rely on a trusted intermediary.
Alan: Annika and I noticed the problems around ticketing and how well the properties of blockchain would fit into that system. That’s how we started off with what Aventus is today.
Using the blockchain makes each ticket unique, so they can’t be replicated or faked?
Annika: There are a few benefits, and it also comes down to how you design the blockchain system. The properties of the blockchain itself can lead to a really nicely designed system but you have to design it properly. In our network, for example, what we can offer people is counterfeit reduction; being able to have a unique ticket number so you’ll always know the ticket you’re buying is real.
Alan: We try and think of it in three strands of main benefits; first is control over inventory, so the ability to set up any business associated with tickets and those rules are un-circumventable. For example, only reselling tickets at ten per cent above face value or maybe no resale market at all. The second benefit is around operational efficiency and transparency, so you know exactly who’s touched your tickets and how they’ve transferred. The final benefit, depending on how you integrate it, is additional security around counterfeits.
Are you a ticketing provider or do you work with ticketing providers?
Alan: We thought it was very important from a strategy perspective to enter the market to try and aid the existing participants father than trying to do it ourselves. What a lot of people are doing is trying to take on the big guys, but we feel our place is as a B2B business supporting and giving the existing industry the ability to leverage the properties of the blockchain. We will never be an e-commerce platform, the ideal clients for us are the likes of Ticketmaster etc.
Do potential customers understand the blockchain element of what you do?
Alan: It all depends on who we’re talking to, a lot of the time this requires a fundamental shift in architecture so it’s important for us to talk to both people like the CEO or CTO who come at things with a different level of understanding. Most of the time people have a rudimentary understanding but are quite sceptical because of what they’ve seen in the news. It’s about trying to explain and trying to stay away from the detail. A lot of the time people want to know ‘how exactly does it work?’ and that gets into too much technical detail.
Annika: For us the way that we define success with something like this is when we don’t have to tell people that we’re using the blockchain. Apart from the architects in the companies that we’re trying to sell to, no one needs to know what the blockchain is. We have these really great properties and new things we can do because of this technology.