Loket now ready for next stage: New verticals, new SEA markets
By Masyitha Baziad July 19, 2016
- Currently holds 80% market share in live music and sports events
- Wants to dominate other verticals too, looking to expand regionally
HAVING secured Series A funding round last month – an undisclosed amount in a round led by US-based Sovereign Capital with participation from local venture capital firm East Ventures – PT Global Loket Sejahtera (Loket) is eyeing the conferences, seminars, and expo market next year.
The full-service events management and analytics startup claims it currently has an 80% share of Indonesia’s live music and sports events market, but it now looking to tap into other verticals.
“We want to dominate the events management market in Indonesia – yes, we currently dominate the music and sports verticals, but we want to dominate the other verticals as well,” says its chief executive officer Edy Sulistyo, speaking recently to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Jakarta.
According to Edy, Loket already has some presence in the conferences, seminars and expo market, but has yet to really focus on it.
“The toughest market is actually live music – we are already leading there, so we hope the road to dominate other markets will be smooth for us,” he says.
According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Indonesia is ranked No 43 in the worldwide market with 78 meetings held in 2015, compared with 156 meetings in Singapore, 151 meetings in Thailand, and 113 meetings in Malaysia.
The potential for growth is there, and the Ministry of Tourism formed the Indonesia Convention and Exhibition Bureau in March.
The Indonesian Government has committed to pour US$10 billion into developing the industry, and aims for the country to host 150 meetings and events annually by 2019.
Loket offers end-to-end services to help companies and event organisers host large scale, revenue-generating gatherings. One differentiator from similar startups are its radio frequency identification (RFID) bracelets, which can be used for access control, brand activation, cashless payments, big data analytics, and more.
The company is developing new RFID technology to support its penetration into the new markets, and is planning to launch it in the next few months, according to Edy.
It also gearing up for regional expansion and is aiming to enter Malaysia and Singapore by the fourth quarter of this year.
The birth of Loket goes back to 2009 when Edy (pic above) founded a ticketing company called eEvent in Ohio in the United States, with his two cofounders Andi Sie and Lawrence Samantha.
“At that time we want to create something like Eventbrite, but with a twist,” he says, referring to the San Francisco self-service ticketing platform founded in 2006.
But competing directly with Eventbrite in the business-to-consumer (B2C) market was a tough challenge, and he says eEvent was lucky enough to be acquired by US-based business development firm EnvisionPoint for an undisclosed sum in 2013.
At the time of the acquisition, eEvent had 200,000 monthly active users split equally between US and Indonesian users, according to Edy.
From his eEvent experience, he says he realised three things: First, the B2C market is tough; second; there was great potential in Indonesia’s e-ticketing market; and third, monetising it however would be a challenge as most events in the country are free.
In 2013, Edy spoke with Bagus Utama, the founder and former chief executive officer of online ticketing company RajaKarcis, on building a full-service events management company that would be fully supported by technology.
RajaKarcis was acquired by media and entertainment business holding group Mahaka Media in 2010, and Bagus exited the company in 2012.
Combining Bagus’ local experience in ticketing management, and Edy’s strong technology background, they both founded Loket in 2013.
The cockroach approach
Loket’s first round of external funding only came three years after it was founded, and Edy says his experience taught him a lot about sustainability.
“I learned that you need to build a sustainable business, not a business that relies heavily on funding.
“That is why we chose the cockroach approach from Day One – we wanted to make sure we had a cashflow-positive business,” he adds.
This does not mean the company did not have any financial support. Edy is also a managing director at S3 Tech Alliance, a US-based holding company that invests in, mentors, and incubates startups from all over the world.
S3 Tech Alliance, through Edy, was actively involved in Loket’s early journey, pouring in seed money.
However, to accelerate the company’s growth, he says he realised that it needed support from strategic external investors, hence the Series A round.
Powered by tech
One of Loket’s founding principles was to harness technology, and this saw its first iteration in its white label technology that allows its solution to be embedded directly in clients’ websites.
The embedding allows Loket’s clients to sell tickets through their own websites, or send bulk emails to customers from their own mailing address, without having to build their own technology – Loket’s technology sits behind it all.
“If there is any prominent different between the United States and South-East Asia, it is the culture. Our culture here, especially in Indonesia, is to be served. The self-service culture is practically non-existent,” says Edy.
“Companies here want a solutions provider that can take care of technical issues so that they can focus on their own business,” he adds.
Loket has kept on developing new technological features to make sure event promoters can deliver a complete customer experience. It recently came out with an application programming interface (API) for its resellers.
Almost all of Indonesia’s online ticketing firms are Loket’s resellers, including RajaKarcis, IbuDibjo, Tiket.com, and even Go-Tix (by Go-Jek), claims Edy.
“With the single API, all of the tickets we issue use one barcode, no matter who the reseller is, so if you come and collect the ticket from an event’s ticket box, even though each reseller has its own counter, it’s all the same – Loket is behind them all,” he adds.
This particular solution eliminates the need for promoters to deal directly with each reseller, and also allows them to collect data from each reseller after the event.
“Promoters only have to deal with us, and we will help them plan everything from scratch, right up to the post-event report,” says Edy.
Loket also acts as an agency for promoters from the initial event production stage. It helps promoters plan, determine the best pricing point for the event, formulate their distribution channel strategy, all the way up to selling the tickets.
It can do this because it also collects data from each event, and these data help Loket to better advise its clients, Edy declares.
“To be able to succeed in this market, in my experience, there is no way but to go all the way to offer an end-to-end solution,” he says.
In fact, he says the technology is only one, invisible part of the experience. The visible part is how you leverage the technology to make sure the flow and operational activity of the event goes smoothly.
“That is why we also take care of crew access monitoring, gate solutions, and RFID tags on the day of the event – there is no way we can control the flow of the event if we do not supply everything from pre-event to post-event processes,” he argues.
While serving customers end-to-end has its advantages, Edy says that Loket is aware that it is taking a big risk, as a failure in one part of the event management process can ruin the whole experience.
“It is a risk that we aware of and want to take – you need to go all the way to make sure your business is unique, and that is something that we know is hard to replicate by any competitor,” he says.
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