WRITTEN BY MADDIE LARSON
Robert Enck, founder of Eleez, looks to these wise words from Calvin Coolidge for the motivation to get through the tireless process of starting a business. Eleez, is a live event discovery and ticketing platform that allows venues to fill unsold tickets without cannibalizing regular ticket sales. It gives venue managers more control over ticket demand using real-time pricing for concerts. As a devoted concert-attendee himself, Enck initially came up with the business idea when he took notice of a trend in the lack of attendance at the venues he attended. Upon initial research, he discovered that 40% of concert tickets go unsold each year. From an early age, Enck has had several business ideas and keeps track of them through the notes app on his phone. However, none of these business ideas have inspired him to take action as much as this concert revelation. Believing he had discovered an app-based solution to increase venue attendance, he set out to begin his startup.
Enck saw the UGA Idea Accelerator as the perfect opportunity to test if Eleez could become a scalable business and entered into the competition in fall of 2015. He began by forming a team, which is currently comprised of co-founder and lead developer, James Sanders, who is studying at Georgia Tech, and an industry expert, Brad Beausir, who graduated from UGA with a degree in Music Business and presently works in Nashville. The combined talents of this team enabled Eleez to win the competition, and the funding allowed the company to gain traction. The founders had received valuable experience through a comprehensive process of addressing the necessary steps of bringing a business to fruition. They have now launched a website, created an app, and continually update their platforms to fix or prevent any bugs.
An educational background from the Entrepreneurship Program has also helped in forming the business. The program has grown, even in the time since Enck came to UGA as a Freshman. “Bob has been an incredible mentor. He deserves so much credit for building [the program] into what it is now, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it will be in years to come!” He encourages other students who interested in entrepreneurship to utilize the program as a “great resource for mentorship.”
Reflecting on where the business has arrived since the high of their win a year ago, Enck explains his deeper understanding of the need for customer discovery within their target market. Through customer discover on the venue side, the co-founders have formed a great partnership with places such as the Georgia Theatre. This particular concert location pays an upfront sum when booking their artists and then uses that amount as a basis to set ticket prices. Ticket sales for their larger shows have not been a concern, but there often instances when prices for certain concerts are set too high to generate enough demand. Eleez has been solving this recurring problem by discounting any unsold tickets at the last minute. The increased attendance provided through this process benefits venues, fans, and artists.
With a growing user-base, the biggest hurdle now is a challenge to spread organically by finding a targeted user-base of avid concert-goers. The team has recently realized the value of using social media to build a community by making their content more fun and interactive, rather than pushing the product on people. They are in the process of creating videos that will engage current customers and increase awareness within their target market.
Enck shared advice from his personal experience of pushing through the tough times: “At the very beginning people told me, ‘this is never going to work’ and asked why I would even try to do this. Persistence is key if you really believe in something you’re guna get knocked down, but you’ve got to be persistent. Just keep pushing through.” Enck draws strength to endure in his own efforts from his mom who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away this past year. He saw how she bravely battled this unforeseen trial and it is evident that she has left a legacy to fight and be persistent even in the face of the toughest challenges.
When asked what habits make him successful, Enck responded, “I wouldn’t say I’m successful, but I would say work ethic is key. I’m not by any means the brightest person in the room, but I’m going to try to out-work (everyone).”