Business Development is a big word in the startup industry. Well, they’re actually two words, and they’re both big.
But what does it actually mean? And why is it so important to a company like Tiqets? To find out, we sat down with Matthijs Muijser, head of Business Development at Tiqets, to chat APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), affiliates, and everything in-between.
Let’s start with the basics – how would you describe Business Development, in complete layman’s terms?
I always tell people that it’s about selling tickets via channels that are not the normal B2C routes. I divide it in two ways, one would be the affiliate business. We work with many affiliates to add links directing users to our site, where they can buy tickets through our checkout.
The other way is using API integrations with bigger companies. We have a flexible API that allows us to retrieve content and even handle in-house bookings.
And what are the benefits of that?
There’s a much bigger margin. At the moment, we rely on adverts for a lot of orders, which can be quite costly. With this method, we’re simply giving the partner a commission. This enables us to retain the customer, which creates added value for us. We have lots of widgets that partners can use to sell tickets or show availability, so it benefits both sides.
What is the main advantage for affiliates?
Well, for example, we work with lots of bloggers who feature content about certain locations – say Barcelona. This is an easy way for them to make money, by offering tickets for the Sagrada Familia alongside their content and getting a commission.
So it’s more of a scientific process in working out who are the best people to target?
Yes, but it can be quite hit-and-miss. We have some affiliates who get 2,000,000 visitors and you think “wow, this is going to huge!” but then that affiliate still underperforms compared to our expectations. Then we have websites that are getting 20,000 hits, and they’re among our highest-value affiliates. So that’s the nice and frustrating thing about approaching affiliates. I talk to many people in the affiliate business and they all say the same: you really need some luck.
How do you work to decrease that risk?
Well, that’s what our approach is all about. We only formed the team in April 2017 and we’ve tailored the whole BizDev approach to minimize chance and wastage. But we’re still learning of course, and in the end, you never really know. You just have to keep on pushing, and you’ll invariably come across the big winners.
So there’s quite a lot of interpersonal management involved?
Yes, exactly. We’re a small team and there are a lot of ‘sleeping’ affiliates that we want to wake up. Often it’s just a case of saying “hey, it would be better if you placed this widget there”. But there can be thousands of reasons, which is one of the reasons we’re expanding our team. It’s important to show partners that we’re involved, that we don’t just sign the contract and say “bye”, but that we’re here to help them.
Could you tell me about your team? Who does what?
Right now we have five members. Anna looks after all the Spanish-speaking affiliates, plus a lot of English-speaking partners. Then there’s Desiree, we always call her the Back Office Queen, making sure everything is optimized for affiliates while working with Dutch and English clients. Wilmar handles German and English, as well as focusing on networks of potential affiliates. Then there’s Rieg, who handles all our French partners.
And obviously, there’s me. I’m leading the team and making sure everyone is doing everything they can to increase growth, but I’m also responsible for bigger partners and for maintaining relationships with them.
What does an ordinary BizDev day look like?
We always start the day with a ‘stand up’, where we discuss the day before and to come. We then break off and contact our respective partners, following up previous communications. We use special software helps track everything that we need to do and where we are with certain partners – and naturally, we have meetings all day!
As the company grows bigger, is scalability a concern? Is that just a case of expanding the team?
When we add new products and venues it’s actually good for the BizDev team because we get more leads from those. We just added the Louvre Abu Dhabi to Tiqets, so that’s beneficial for affiliates who are selling tickets in the UAE and further afield.
What are your aims for 2018? What are the targets you’d like to achieve?
We have to double our performance from 2017, that’s our main target! We’re working on a few interesting projects, and t’s always a race against time. If the API takes longer than expected, then we have to wait longer before we see the results from partners.
And the biggest challenges facing you and your team?
It’s always time or the lack of it. Especially for a company at this stage – everything needs to go really fast. But that goes for every team: supply need to connect with new venues, tech needs to finish a lot of great stuff, it all takes time. We have competitors that are doing amazing things, but they’ve been doing it a lot longer than we have. It’s our job to surpass them and to convince affiliates that we have a better product.
And in closing, what is it that makes Tiqets different?
Well like I said, it’s all about quality. We have really really high standards across the board and it shows in our product.