In search of the right price

tiXcy is a product created by two students from the Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam that offers clubs a way to nail their ticket pricing policy

Determining whether a sporting event is expensive or cheap is very subjective, setting a fair price for it is complicated, and is the goal to which all clubs should aspire. In this way, they can capitalise on their facilities, respond efficiently to the demand for tickets, ensure the maximum number of visitors to their stadiums and, as a result, be an attractive location for other associated commercial activities.

This is what tiXcy offers. tiXcy is a product created by two students of the Master in Sports Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute, which offers data analysis to sports organisations so that intuition and imagination are no longer the variables for setting a ticket pricing policy. Rui Catalao and Lars Vermeulen met on the course in Amsterdam and both had already had previous experience in the sports industry. Rui had worked for five years as a sports journalist in Portugal, mainly for the press, and Lars had for a year been events manager at Vitesse, a leading Dutch football club.

In search of the right price - Johan Cruyff Institute

In this interview, they tell us what led them to create their company, how tiXcy works and what its uses are. Ready to find the right price?

How did the idea come about?

The idea came when we were doing the Master in Sports Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam, as we were developing our business plan. At that time, the two of us had already worked in the sports industry, mainly in football, we regularly attended matches, and it was a bit frustrating to see how clubs dealt with the issue of ticket sales. Sometimes they set abusive prices without any sense, or put a very low price for no apparent reason. We thought something was wrong, even in many European clubs, which have many difficulties to fill stadiums. So we began by looking at how we could help these clubs to improve the situation. In the process, our business plan was very well accepted by everyone (teachers, clubs and other interested parties), so we decided to go forward and turn it into what is now our business.

What are the advantages of this system?

It must be made clear that tiXcy is not a ‘ticketing’ system. Even if they work with us, clubs can still use their own system or any other system. What we do is provide consulting services and tools (based on statistics, mathematical formulas and algorithms) so that the manager of the ticketing department and the marketing and commercial directors can be very efficient when it comes to making decisions to improve ticket sales. That means more sales and increased attendance at stadiums. Both things are relevant for any club.

In search of the right price - Johan Cruyff Institute

How do you make contact with the clubs?

It depends on the club. Sometimes we can approach a club through own contacts or through ORTEC. In other cases, it’s a question of knocking on their door and seeing if they are interested. In any case, we have a list of clubs who may be interested, according to our criteria, and those are our first target. But obviously, this solution is adaptable to any sport.

What has the response been like so far?

So far, very good. We feel that there is this need and clubs are increasingly willing to use data analysis in their decision-making processes.

How did you come up with the name tiXcy?

It is the result of a brainstorming session in a classroom after a lecture. We were looking for a name that reflects our strengths. Putting an abbreviation of ‘tickets’ (TIX) with the ‘cy’ of transparency and efficiency, we ended up with tiXcy. The upper-case X symbolises the fair price for a ticket, something we believe we are able to find.

You have partnered with ORTEC. Did you present the idea to them and they then ‘bought’ it? How did you come to an agreement?

We had a first meeting with ORTEC some time ago, when we were in the first stage of our business plan. And then we saw that we had the same ideas about this issue and we might have a chance to pick it up again in the future. So once we finished the Master, we got back in contact with ORTEC to try to reach a partnership agreement. It has been a long process, but finally tiXcy is one of the applications offered by the ORTEC Sports platform.

How did the Master help you to create your own company?

The Master in Sports Management gave us a solid base from which to build. In class, we learned the most important aspects of managing a sports company and we understood how to start up our own company. Obviously, the greatest learning is in real life, but our teacher in entrepreneurship and innovation, Irsan Widarto, made us feel more prepared to take that step. And not just during the Master. Today, he is still our main advisor and we are very grateful for that.

Can tiXcy be used for other types of events?

Of course. Data exists everywhere and using it well can help companies in other sectors to improve their performance. However, in principle, tiXcy was created for the sports market and that is where we are focused.

What is most exciting thing about creating your own company? And the hardest?

The challenge of starting to create something from scratch and trying to make it grow, knowing that you have to give the maximum for it to succeed. That’s the most exciting part, but also the most difficult!

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