Free Press Journal

Kyazoonga CEO Neetu Bhatia on the company’s success in sports and entertainment ticketing


Kyazoonga, founded by professionals who saw an opportunity in ticketing business, has been in the business of sports and entertainment ticketing for a decade now. Online ticketing is recognised as a big business worldwide. In India, it is on the cusp of rapid growth. Neetu Bhatia, co-founder and CEO, discusses the opportunity and company’s evolution with Pankaj Joshi.

How has the business model of Kyazoonga evolved? How has it helped the market evolve?

The market size of the non-movie ticketing segment – which is our defined opportunity – is USD 1 billion in terms of possible addressable market. Right now, be it live events or sports, we are only scratching the surface, because only 20-25 per cent of this potential today has migrated to professional ticketing and in that online today has a share of more than 50 per cent.

The first ever professionally ticketed game online in India was on our site. We have helped in the evolution of new business models for this events market in India. We were able to turn the sponsorship-based model on its head and prove ticketing as an underpinning for the event, something which is the case worldwide but had not happened in India. For concerts, we help the organisers in audience forecasting, which leads to some revenue estimates. Based on the audience forecast, they sign up the artist and then have a search for sponsors. Now organisers have greater leverage with artists and sponsors. This is totally different from how it used to happen earlier. Ticketing used to be around 2 per cent of the event revenues, and now the scene is that for some events it is 80 per cent of revenues. We have been involved in IPL from the first season onwards and today ticketing is in the top three revenue streams for IPL as well. In the 2013 IPL there was a game at Raipur where the entire ticketing was on our platform – 65 per cent online and 35 per cent through outlets which were on our system.

We had also looked at movies but found that it was a move into negative margin territory. Sports-wise we are much beyond cricket – we were ranked second in ticketing at the 2016 Olympics, in what was our first foray against well-entrenched players. Ticketing at the Olympics is a very complex exercise in terms of multiple events and stringent requirements and this success opened our eyes to both the global opportunity and our ability to match up. The England Test match last season at Mumbai was a sell-out where we could provide multi-channel access to ticket seekers.

A key differentiator for us is our own technology platform. It is our view that no one else east of the Thames owns the technology. We started out in 2007 with only one market in focus but today around 50 per cent of our revenues are coming from outside India.

What issues do you face in India and how do you differentiate yourself?

Regulatory issue is a major issue for the Indian market compared to any other countries. There is also the entertainment tax, which hopefully will get resolved by the GST enactment. On soft issues, there is the aspect of physical tickets. The QR code/ barcode scanning has yet to make a significant dent. Technology-wise, one big challenge we had was in 2013, the last Test that Sachin Tendulkar played. With a few thousand tickets for the general public, the demand far outstripped supply and we had a slowdown problem. Since then, we have invested more in technology and those issues have not resurfaced. This year, we are ticketing the Under-17 FIFA World Cup (football) being held in India. Our technology advancements tell you your status in the queue.

The entire promoter team has global exposure and has given up corporate careers because we basically saw a gap in the consumer landscape, where we could take global-standard capabilities and deliver a standard product. We are excited not only about the Indian or global market potential, but that an Indian company is doing well. We see the market size moving from the USD 200-250 million level to at least double by 2022. We have been profitable since the last three years, if you were to look at another differentiator yardstick.

In terms of differentiation, we have aimed to be an end-to-end service provider which includes Uber booking, merchandise booking, and even travel and stay booking on selective basis. For instance at the Jaipur Literary Festival, we offer various services and have been doing that for seven years. Our platform access is through computer, mobile and even through store partners.

We have just one inventory to which all of these are linked.

What new product lines would emerge in the future?

We think the market will drill deeper and personally we are looking at smaller events – reunions of educational institutions, wine-tasting events, even for an insurance business agent gathering. Such events may not need full-service offering, so what we have done is to open up our platform on DIY basis to the organisers, to build their own event. We have democratised the ticketing aspect for the organisers and empowered them.