Vendini, an upstart ticketing software company established in 2002, hopes to take it to the next level with their announcement that they’ve raised $20 million in Series A funding from New York City-based private investment firm Level Equity.
“We’ve been bootstrapped for 14 years,” said Paul Chalker, PR and Marketing coordinator for Vendini. “But we’ve figured out our position in the marketplace and are ready to grow. This funding will go a long way in making that happen.”
Asked why the company has decided to suddenly change course and accept funding from an outside source, Chalker quotes company founder and CEO Mark Tacchi, “It’s time to mash the accelerator.”
The funding will be used to hire more talent, enhance their platform and add more features and functionality. “We’re very excited to announce the funding,” he said. “We hope to make a platform that works for the entire business.”
Vendini’s bread and butter so far has been working with venues that are too small for big guns like Ticketmaster. Vendini currently works with over 4,000 venues across the board from small performing arts centers to live music and sports events.
“We’ve found a niche in small and medium-sized venues,” said Chalker. “We can service venues that range from black box to big festivals. No one is developing products for the middle range and that’s the hole we’re filling. Our software is more than just ticket management. We also provide marketing tools, customer revenue management that report in-depth info to our customers and analysis apps that are role specific.”
Tacchi started the company after working for Steve Jobs at Apple. After leaving Apple, Tacchi created Hipbone, Inc. It provides a range of online customer interaction solutions. He sold Hipbone in 2004 to Kana Software and plunged into Vendini.
“Mark saw an under-served market and saw an opportunity,” said Chalker. “He’s a visionary and his vision was spot on. Vendini has been growing every year we’ve been around.”
2015 was a banner year for Vendini. In March they hit $1 billion in gross ticket sales, Chalker said. 2016 has been even more remarkable; they are on track to double that number to $2 billion in gross ticket sales in the next few months. “Our growth has been phenomenal,” said Chalker. “We expect that sort of growth to continue for many years to come.”
Vendini has been on a buying spree and managed to successfully execute three acquisitions over the last four years with no outside capital. Acquisitions include Data Flow Workspace in 2011, In Ticketing in 2014 and CrowdTorch in 2015.
“Up until now we’ve been all about organic growth and buying up companies we know will add value to our core brand,” said Chalker. “And now we are ready to accelerate product growth. There are still many mid-sized venues that are under-served and we’re here to serve them.”
Vendini’s number one priority is growth and they have a plan to achieve it. “We’re hiring top talent for all our offices in North America as well as our development center in Italy,” said Chalker. “We plan aggressive expansion by hiring top notch engineers and support staff. We also expect an influx of new customers and are ramping up our customer service.”
Vendini is especially happy to partner with equity firm Level Equity. “Level Equity is a farseeing company,” said Chalker. “They came to us and said, ‘We want to build something great with you.’ They have a hands-off approach and will simply let us get on with it.”
Level Equity’s noninterventionist approach only goes so far; they do get to place a team member on Vendini’s board.
Jena Hoffman, president of the International Ticketing Association, puts the deal into perspective this way, “They have acquired several companies and I think the funding will give them the opportunity to do the research and development required to figure out how to get the different software applications to work together.”
Hoffman thinks accepting the funding will give Vendini a big leg up. “They’re already pretty significant players,” said Hoffman. “They have found a niche market with festivals and a lot of the more unique event offerings that are out there. I’m certain the funding will go a long way in giving them an even stronger position and give people who fall out of that niche more of an opportunity.”
Hoffman has a clear vision of how the funding will affect Vendini’s competitors. “People will look at them more seriously as an opportunity,” said Hoffman. “When a ticketing system vendor creates a stronger position for itself it raises the game for the other vendors. I think that’s a positive thing for the marketplace and it makes sure all the vendors stay on their toes with what they are offering and what they are able to provide for the marketplace.”
Vendini has made no secret that they plan to use the money to steal talent from their competitors. “It’s not hard to accomplish that with $20 million,” Hoffman said, “At least we know where the money is going to go. It will also provide Vendini with a level of comfort and the resources to create what they want to create and get it into the marketplace.”
The way the company is viewed within the industry will also change based on the leap of faith by Level Equity. “People will also perceive the company as a stable company with the confidence Level Equity is showing by funding them,” Hoffman said. “Vendini has a wonderful team. They’ve acquired some interesting companies that are doing cool stuff. I believe the organization and how it shows up drips from the top down and Mark Tacchi is a forward thinking guy and people oriented. And that’s internal as well as external. He wants to make sure the team he is working with is moving the organization forward and they are united.”
Vendini is headquartered in San Francisco, and has offices in Petaluma, Calif., Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Knoxville, Tenn., and Vancouver, British Columbia. Their Research & Development office is located in Gualdo Tadion, Italy.
Interviewed for this story: Paul Chalker, (415) 693-9463; Jena Hoffman, (747) 477-1899