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Corona-hit CSE startup beats an infected market with online events

In a single week, their order book went from full to empty. And after losing nearly all their revenue, the founders of Ticketbutler, a group of alumni from the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship, hit on a solution to strike back at the COVID-19 crisis: Online Events.

Coronavirus |   17. Apr 2020

Kasper Christensen

Journalist

Wine tasting with premium wines from Slovakia, workshops on building your own robot and demonstrations for kids on how to play with a hula hoop. These activities were once relegated to the distant past.

But the startup company Ticketbutler, a ticketing platform for event organizers, lost nearly all its crisis-hit clients and thereby over 90% of its revenue within one week, which called for an emergency meeting.

And at this meeting, Mads Kjer, an alumnus from the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship, and his partners hit on creating an online event platform where people could be together at home.

That platform, Events Online, was launched on April 1 and, according the CEO Mads Kjer himself, the project is like “building windmills instead of windbreaks during a storm”.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this”

When large parts of Denmark shut down on March 13, all theatres, music venues and cultural centers also closed.

And this had a clear impact on the entertainment and cultural industries.

According to a recent study by the Danish Chamber of Commerce between March 18 and March 19, no less than 98% of its members in the entertainment industry experienced a decrease in sales compared to the same period last year.

In addition, those same members had lost 81% of their sales, on average, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This has been a hard financial blow for the entertainment industry. Especially for the startup company Ticketbutler, which usually delivers technical solutions for event organizers.

Just one week after all the events were cancelled and cultural institutions closed down, the company had lost 90% of its revenue.

“That was frightening. I’ve never experienced anything like this. We went from having an almost full order book to more or less zero orders within one week,” says Mads Kjer, CEO of Ticketbutler, and continues:

“But my partners and I are entrepreneurs and we have all lost customers and failed with business ideas before. So we kept our heads cool and held an emergency meeting. And towards the end of that otherwise sad meeting, we came up with the idea for Events Online.”

Puppet-theatre workshops and baking sessions

Events Online is a platform that offers different types of events – everything from workshops on how to build a puppet theatre to a bake-along live session with a professional cook.

The concept is pretty simple.

Customers buy a ticket online for the event they want to attend. Before the event begins, the customer receives a package with the contents they will need to participate while the host is streamed online via video.

Right now, for instance, customers can buy a ticket for a cider tasting. Before the tasting, each customer receives a box of ciders to taste and enjoy in his or her own living room during the online event.

Various companies arrange the events themselves, such as People Like Us, a Danish craft beer brewing company that organizes beer- and cider-tasting events.

We’re building windmills instead of windbreaks during a storm

Mads Kjer

Although Events Online has only existed for a few weeks, Mads Kjer is very satisfied with his new project.

“I have been an entrepreneur for about five years, and I know how hard it is to establish a startup, build a brand and get the first customers. And I would never have imagined it was possible to do all that in just a couple of weeks. But we did,” he says.

From Western Jutland all the way to Bornholm

According to Mads Kjer, Events Online is a platform that, on the one hand, helps crisis-ridden companies by offering a way for them to arrange and sell tickets to events, and thereby get their businesses back on their feet.

On the other hand, the platform contributes to fulfilling people’s need to be social and enjoy experiences outside their own four walls, even though they are actually still at home.

And although the Danish government has just initiated the first small steps towards re-opening Denmark, he still believes that this way of organizing and delivering events will remain popular long after the corona crises is over.

“In the future, I think people will have another mindset about online events and gatherings because they offer many advantages,” Mads Kjer says and explains:

“The internet has no limits on how many participants can attend an event, unlike the physical world. Therefore, online events do not have to be local. They can be national, with an infinite number of participants from Western Jutland all the way beyond.”

“And even though some of the magic of being physically surrounded by other people disappears, I still believe plenty of people like sitting in safe surroundings at home while joining in an event. For example, it’s perfect for introverts,” he says.

The CSE legacy

From 2016 to 2018, Mads Kjer and his partners from Ticketbutler studied at the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship (CSE). They were all educated engineers who knew very little about business and entrepreneurship.

 

But now, years later, Mads Kjer believes that their time at CSE has had a great impact on how far their business adventures have come.

“CSE took care of us, guided us and gave us some inspiration from other startups that helped us gain the skills and competences we have today,” he says and continues:

“Another essential aspect I have cherished from my time at CSE is the entrepreneurial spirit: The mentality that it doesn’t matter if you fail. The most important point is that you try to realize your ideas. And if it fails, it fails, but if it works, then keep on doing what you’re doing.”

“And overall, CSE gave us so much knowledge and support. It helped provide us with the tools to identify business opportunities and the courage to create something such as Events Online where, figuratively speaking, we’re building windmills instead of windbreaks during a storm,” Mads Kjer says.

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