Sai Sudha, The Co-Founder of Hidden Truffles, gets into a tête-à-tête with Pete Gordon the Co-Founder of TicketFlap and Clockenflap Hong Kong
Sudha: I have one question Friday, Saturday & Sunday of Clockenflap festival; Hong Kong hasn’t recovered yet, how have you recovered?
Pete: We follow a rule of “No Drinking” at work because there are thousands and thousands of people attending the music festival and being a high risk proposition we’re responsible for their safety. However, on Sunday we made up for the missed fun. We did have the artists backstage until about 6 O’clock in the morning!
Sudha: What’s the story behind Clockenflap. What came 1st Clockenflap or Ticketflap?
Pete: Of the two, Clockenflap was launched earlier. Having grown up in the UK with Music and Music festivals around us; we felt it would be nice to create a similar Music festival culture in Hong Kong
Sudha: Do you play any instruments?
Pete: Yes, I play the guitar, bass and drums. So we started Clockenflap mainly with a sense of wanting to bring the fun of discovering Music for the youth of Hong Kong. Ticketflap really came out of Clockenflap. As we grow we realized that we needed flexibility with our data; more so a modern ticketing system was missing. As we were running a technology company at that time, we decided to use the expertise of our engineers on developing a ticketing system.
Sudha: Who is the biggest competitor as of today in ticketing? Do you have a ticketing competitor?
Pete: Yes, we have some very entrenched incumbents in Hong Kong. We’ve got hkticketing and Urbtix. Urbtix is part of LCSD a public- private partnership. It’s very difficult to get into an LCSD managed Urbtix venue as an entrepreneur. It’s a reality, which isn’t told to you upfront as the authorities tell you something very different. The Hong Kong exhibition centre, on the other hand, runs HKTicketing, and a lot of large venues have exclusivity deals built in which makes the ticketing system scenario challenging. We’ve had great amount of success with outdoor events and non-standard venues.
Sudha: I’ve used Urbtix as well as Ticketflap. Biggest hassle for me was that Urbtix doesn’t share the customer data with you; Ticketflap does share the data with you.
Pete: So we have two hats on as organizers and a ticket company. And we understood the frustration as an organizer. They’re the organizer’s customers, their data. Organizers need the data with whomever they end up selling tickets with. We wanted to make something that was flexible enough not only for a small event but also powerful enough for a big event. One of the things we aimed for was to treat the organizers who’re our customers the same way we (wearing hat of Clockenflap) we would want to be treated as Music festival organizers.
Sudha: What is the best and worst piece of advice that you would’ve received?
Pete: Honestly I don’t know! Everybody’s got an opinion. You’ve got to completely trust yourself. It’s entirely appropriate and useful to listen to others. One make’s sense of what the person is telling you and trying to fit in perspective or the context. Ultimately decision is yours. I’ve made so many critical decisions over the years, nothing particularly sticks out.
Sudha: What is the best benefit of being in Hong Kong to start a business. Why do you think Hong Kong was better to start Clockenflap/Ticketflap?
Pete: It’ s got a good and bad side. I think in a bigger country it’s very easy to get sucked into a corporate-type job. It’s quite hard to come out and be experimenting. Hong Kong city on the other hand, has a transient population. We’ve got many of our colleagues and peers who’re expats and entrepreneurial by nature, who come and set themselves into certain niche opportunities. Hong Kong business environment is pretty easy in terms of setting up companies, especially the accounting requirements, It’s a pretty flexible place for business. The difficult bit is more of the hidden side of Hong Kong, about exactly who’s talking to who and who knows who
Sudha: Was it difficult for you to break into the local market?
Pete: Well we still have that challenge to an extent. People would look at us and refer to us as a “bunch of gweilos”. While we could garner 60, 000 audience at the jockey club alongside lot of regular events. But in their heads they have this thing of Clockenflap is for the westerners and the only people who use Ticketflap are customers of Clockenflap and the people related to them with similar sensibilities. It’s factually, completely correct but even today when walk through the door they’re like “you have the Western audience; while we have the local audience”. It’s kind of frustrating
Sudha: Which is your favorite child amongst the two Clockenflap/Ticketflap?
Pete: I’ve realized Clockenflap is fun it’s extraordinarily hard work for a short period of time. Ticketflap is good because you work with the same people for a long period of time and you get to form relationships. So that’s very rewarding. Clockenflap is a roller coaster. It consumes your life for 2-3 months in the year.
Sudha: What was the funniest event that was listed on Ticketflap?
Pete: I wouldn’t say funniest. We get some fairly interesting ones. We’ve got one for the month of April 2018 at the Central Harbour which is adult themed. It’s called 18+ and it’s going to have all forms of interesting adult themed entertainment. There’s one gentleman called Pracasso who paints pictures of unusual parts of the body. So that would be a quirky one.
Author: Rena Ahuja
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