We gave Georgia Robertson a little longer than an elevator ride to pitch Humanitix, a not-for-profits events platform that has turned ticketing fees into a vehicle that can be used to do good in the world.
Lets face it – when buying a ticket to an event, no one is a fan of the fees ticketing platforms placed on top of the actual ticket prices. But what if this aspect thought of as a necessary evil was transformed to help a greater social cause, such as tackling global inequality?
Enter Humanitix. The “charity for the tech generation” is an events ticketing platform that directs 100 percent of the profits made from ticket booking fees towards global education projects.
“Our kaupapa (mission) is to close the education gap around the world. To get there, we want to make every event a ticket to opportunity to provide education for disadvantaged children,” Humanitix New Zealand CEO Georgia Robertson says.
“Everybody resents paying booking fees, so the opportunity we saw was to transform those booking fees into a force for good and a sustainable fund for education projects. Event organisers get to own the impact and are responsible for creating the impact as without them, we wouldn’t exist.”
Humanitix was co-founded in Australia by Joshua Ross and Adam McCurdie. In its first 12 months, Humanitix went being run out of a garage to receiving a $1.2 million grant by the Atlassian Foundation, as well as winning the $1 million Google Impact Challenge. It also recently won The Ākina Foundation Investment Readiness Grant and announced a funding partnership with NEXT Foundation.
“Our objective isn’t to make booking fees zero, it’s to solve inequality through education programmes. But we think there’s a massive opportunity in ticketing, where fees can be more modest, and you can have the best of both worlds. It doesn’t have to be rorting customers,” co-founder and director Joshua Ross told the Sydney Morning Herald.
New Zealand is the first country it’s expanded into outside of that market, and the company is hoping to hit the United States in the next 12 months. Robertson was chosen to head up its operations here, and prior to Humanitix, was working as a lawyer hunting down opportunities to work with charities and their boards.
When she heard about an organisation called Humanitix that was part charity, part tech company, she was curious and reached out to them.
“I volunteered my legal skills to get them established in New Zealand and was blown away by the ambition and the pace of growth,” Robertson says. “I never thought I would be working in tech, but I was so inspired by the opportunity to create so much good in the world and just had to be a part of it.”
Now, Humanitix has ticked off the milestone of donating more than $300,000 to its charity partners. Events on its platform include everything from cooking classes, to yoga workshops, to conferences, to gala dinners, and is now the fastest growing ticketing platform in Australasia.
Organisations that use its platform include UN Women, Westfield malls, the Wanaka Beer Festival and Unfiltered Live. Robertson says Humanitix’s success has in part been driven by conscious consumerism.
“We know that people care about spending their money with organisations that are making a difference, given a competitive option. Humanitix gives consumers and events a way to put their spending to work to solve some of the biggest challenges facing our world,” she says.
Humanitix also uses a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud technology, which Robertson says has allowed it to have a bigger influence than it could have had being run as a traditional charity.
“We knew we could either invest our time raising millions of dollars for a cause, or we could invest our time disrupting a massive market that generates billions of dollars in funding to cause massive impact,” she says.
“We needed massive impact, we needed a charitable model, we needed a way to earn recurring revenue and we needed something our customers could promote on our behalf and speak about as well. That’s why events ticketing is such a happy marriage with SaaS.”
She says the beauty of tech is for the first time ever, it doesn’t cost more to do a good thing – it actually costs less.
“If we rely on being the most ethical solution we know we’ll fail, we have to be the best platform with the best human service in this industry – and the most ethical – and directing all these booking fees to education projects,” she says. “We actually save organisers up to 25 percent of the cost of their booking fees.”
However, Robertson says going up against some of the big ticketing companies has not been without its challenges.
“We are taking on some of the biggest companies in the world in a multi-billion-dollar industry, so every day is a commercial challenge,” Robertson says. “We knew from the start that the only way to win was to be better. So everyday we’re building new features that others don’t have. Every day we’re giving real human support to our event organisers, in an industry obsessed with making people talk to bots. And every day we’re warding off competitors who actively try and poach our customers.”
She says what she’s learnt in her journey is the customer experience is right at the crux of being a successful company.
“The core thing everyone should be mindful of are what are your key metrics for success and how do you choose that? So for us it’s really simple. It’s how many tickets are we selling? The reason that’s important is the more tickets we sell, the more impact we have. Sales is the crux of it – we’ve almost exclusively grown using a direct sales model, so it’s really important for us to be focused on what shifts the needle, which is our customers.”
And the big, audacious goal? To become the first charity to make the status of being a “unicorn” or having a billion-dollar-impact on education.