What began as a simple ticketing system for a school play has grown into an Australian success story, and it all started in Dubbo.
Father of four Terry Wilcher came up with a ticketing plan for Macquarie Anglican Grammar School (MAGS) when parents were asked to contribute to the production.
“It came from a school musical at MAGS in 2014,” Mr Wilcher explained. “It was called ‘The Vortex down the Hobbit Hole’, we sold 700 tickets at that first event.”
“The idea of the ticket platform was there when we first built it. We never thought it would take off, but we thought it would be handy.”
In 2015, online ticketing agency 123tix was born and has been moving forward ever since.
“It’s a really simple program. When we designed it, we wanted something quick and easy to use. This is very simplified.”
Naming the concept pushed it towards greater heights.
“When we found the name, that was when we thought we had something special.”
Mr Wilcher, whose background is in photography and web design, said online ticketing is not a new concept but a business like 123tix is uncommon in a regional location.
“It’s actually quite a common thing but I think it’s special because it’s something unique in this area,” he said.
“Nobody had thought of it before. Most ticketing companies are city-based. We are one of the very few ticketing agencies in a regional area. That’s why we are so successful.”
After being a finalist at the 2017 Rhinos Excellence in Small Business, 123tix was named as the NSW Business Chamber Western Region Business of the Year in 2018 and received The Exchange Excellence in Microbusiness Award at the 2019 Rhinos. The business has really gone from strength to strength since its inception.
“We did events for free when we started. In 2016, it picked up momentum. From there, we picked up venues, it gave us broader exposure.”
In 2018, their revenue doubled from what they’d done in the previous three years. In 2019, it has doubled again.
“Because the business grew, a lot of financial revenue came in. We had to spend the money to go to the next level.”
With ongoing business growth, Mr Wilcher has continued to develop ideas and increase industry contacts, including the promoters of the Red Hot Summer Tour and Jimmy Barnes concerts.
Other events on their website include Conrad Sewell in concert, the Parkes Elvis Festival and pre-season NRL games. Some of their high profile clients are NSW Cancer Council, Rydges, Macquarie Conservatorium and Outback Arts.
“We are dealing with some major promoters now,” Mr Wilcher said. “A lot don’t think we can do what they (the bigger companies) can do, that they own the market, but we are happy to show them otherwise.
“Ticketing is a multi-billion dollar industry and people like us are under the radar providing the service.
“Plenty of people sell tickets the old way. But we’ve created something that helps with being time-poor. If an organisation chooses that way, it eliminates the need for cash.”
Mr Wilcher and his team are also prepared to go the extra mile when it comes to the service they provide.
The close-knit group is composed of his wife Caroline who does finance for 123tix, along with Michelle and Arabella Watson, who deal with onsite events and customer support respectively.
Unlike some of their larger counterparts, the company handles phone enquiries, office visitation and has even hand-delivered tickets to clients.
“I think in our industry - because it’s impersonal - it was really well-recognised. The strength is the support we offer and our ability to create new ideas.”
Innovations in the company include SMS ticketing and unique event management. This will allow them to target larger events.
“We’ve added the same technology as the multinationals, we can create and replicate an event in minutes. The functionality is in all-over design.”
With the name 123tix constantly growing in popularity, Mr Wilcher said the key was to remain focused and not get bogged down in details.
“Once our name is out there, it can be busy. I know there are issues and improvements, that’s part of business. But with platform ticket sales, the opportunities are endless. It’s so scalable. Online ticketing is taking over tap and go, and organisers find it easier.”
With the possibility of moving the product into other countries, there are many options available to this Dubbo-based company.
“Our biggest threats are direct competitors, but we are reaching Eastern Australia and we keep growing.
“We’re talking about different locations but it’s about making the most of what we’ve got. I have the domain names for the USA, UK and New Zealand so there’s no reason why we can’t. It’s about what we’ve got. We know what’s going on in Australia.”
With the list of events getting bigger every day, Mr Wilcher aims to keep improving the business in the future.
“I benchmark my sales. It’s about turnover and growing some of the events. We are only as good as our last event.
Being successful is many things and Mr Wilcher says it takes a grain of salt and a lot of people. He credits wife Caroline for being his ‘leveller’.
“Thinking outside the square and hard work, you don’t get success from doing nothing,” he said.
“If you have an idea, act on it. I had so many ideas when I was younger but I never had the confidence to do it. I left school at 17 with no qualifications, no degree. I was a photographer for many years.”
“When my four kids came along, I stayed at home and raised them, doing website design. I really loved it.”
It’s fair to say that Mr Wilcher is living the dream and he’s happy to share his journey.
“If someone asks me about something, I tell them. It’s taken me a while to believe that I could do it.”
“We are enjoying what we do, I get excited every day.”
123tix is located in the QBE building at 39-41 Macquarie St, Dubbo.