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Ticket Master

About 100,000 tickets were processed through Itsmyseat.com last year as organizers of local music concerts, comedy shows, theater performances and film festivals, turned over the logistics of ticket sales and promotion to the Glendale-based company. What 36-year-old Vahe Shahinian started six years ago from a love of live music and theater has quickly gained momentum among a community of independent artists and event organizers. “We’ve been growing with a very loyal client base,” said Shahinian, who said every year since its founding the company has been doubling revenues year over year, reaching $1 million in ticket sales in 2009. The website has been used to sell tickets for the Starlight Bowl concert series in the city of Burbank, and for countless performances at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. The Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, a 400-seat space, and Luna Playhouse in Glendale, with 40 seats, are both recurring clients, among a list of dozens of venues. Non-profit organizations that organize benefits, fundraisers, luncheons and galas, also use the site. “Vahe has a true art patron’s spirit,” said Alex Kalognomos, an independent event producer who has used Itsmyseat.com for film festivals, DVD launches and benefits of all sorts since 2006. Beyond the conveniences of the website, which maps out seating charts and allows tickets to be reserved and sold online, and also allows for scannable eTickets, customized with the organizer’s logo (or sponsor’s logo) to be generated on the fly, the website is also a valuable marketing tool, Kalognomos said. Kalognomos first discovered the company when promoting the multi-day Arpa International Film Festival in 2006. “The website allows you to promote with videos, photos, text, directions, you can create a mini website for each one of the films, which translates into ticket sales, and you can create a beautiful presentation for each of the filmmakers. It’s really a great marketing tool.” Itsmyseat.com allows for events to have their own Internet address, he explained. Additionally, the site’s integration with social networking sites has helped develop a community of artists and art lovers that benefit the organizers who use the service, he added. Built-in audience “It has a built-in audience of people that are signing in to look at the events posted and those are the same people that I want to attend my events,” Kalognomos explained. “It’s really an interesting modern tool for the independent event organizers.” Up until now, growth for the online start-up has relied on referrals and word of mouth. But the company, which seized upon a niche opportunity to meet the needs of smaller event organizers that can’t afford to pay the higher service fees of large online ticket companies such as Ticketmaster, is now faced with increasing competition. “We’re getting ready for a big marketing push,” said Shahinian, who engineered the software behind Itsmyseat.com after finishing grad school when he was 30 years old. “Up unitl now we’ve been concerned about getting our engine to work perfectly; now that everything is running smooth we’re ready for a facelift.” The company is in the process of redesigning the look and feel of the website to reflect a sleeker and visually interesting design, he said. Better marketing The company is also preparing new and improved marketing materials to target a long list of new venues and event producers in 2011 as the economy starts showing signs of recovery and many events that were put on hold or were cancelled in 2010 come back to the table. Itsmyseat also has a handful of strategic partnerships with industry professionals planned for this year, which will help the company further penetrate the large market of independent event producers in the Valley and Los Angeles region. Shahinian said he expects to be able to double the number of ticket sales processed through the site within the next couple of years, by continuing to enhance the unique services and friendly style which have set him apart so far. Other services More than a ticket sales company, Itsmyseat.com has become entrenched with the community that it helps promote, said Shahinian, and offers services that go above those expected. One of them is the very popular mobile box office service. “We send a crew to work at the door of many events to handle all the ticket sales at the door so that the event organizers can focus entirely on their event,” he explained. The company’s interconnected system has the ability to also print physical tickets at the door of any event. Additionally, the company also has in-house designers that provide marketing support for event organizers who need help with the design of posters and postcards. “I like to be associated with successful cultural events,” said Shahinian, who believes the success of his company is entirely dependent on the quality of the events that he helps promote. “I liked the challenge of making something out of nothing, that entrepreneurial feeling was exciting to me. Now the challenge is to grow.” Itsmyseat.com FOUNDER: Vahe E. Shahinian<br >Location: Glendale<br >CORE OF BUSINESS: Online ticket sales<br >Education: Graduate degree in engineering and computer science from USC<br >Employees: 5<br >Revenues in 2008: $500,000<br >Revenues in 2009: $1 million<br >Revenues in 2010: $900,000

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