Lee McIntosh of Central Tickets talks to Denise Beedell in the seventh of a series of articles featuring the winners from the FSB Celebrating Small Business London Area Finals held on 19 March.
Lee and Hartmut Wuebbeler started Central Tickets in April 2017 and since that date have created a business that has booked over 30,000 tickets for more than 400 different productions.
Central Tickets is a membership-based business that generates theatre ticket sales and audience intelligence data for cultural events in London and the surrounding Home Counties.
Lee had always been fascinated by the theatre world and his early career saw him learn the ropes as part of a team at the largest UK theatre group, starting as a theatre usher and rising to Duty Manager at the Savoy Theatre in little over a year.
His experience in that team, coupled with five years as a Management Consultant, gave him the drive to set up Central Tickets with Hartmut.
Lee says, “We both felt that other service providers weren’t giving enough back to producers, so we had the idea to harness tech to profile customers, promote our concept on social media and disrupt the existing market to add value and provide clients and members with a great service.”
“We did extensive market research to make sure that there was demand for our services and pitched our ideas to key clients for feedback. Looking back, our initial pitches could have been better, but there’s always room for improvement.”
“In the early days, there was a challenging situation when we were subject to a smear campaign, but as FSB members, we were able to make use of the FSB’s PR Crisis Management service and were able to turn this difficult time into a positive for the business.
Lee continued, “Their experts helped us to stay calm and deal with the situation head-on, offering assurances to those affected. This helped open closed doors and gave us the opportunity to address any misconceptions about our business, openly and transparently”
“We only had a start-up budget of £7,000 so this benefit provided so much more than we would have been able to afford to ensure we were able to continue trading.”
Lee and Hartmut have big plans for the future and will be looking to scale up the business through greater automation and process simplification.
Lee says, “In five years’ time I want to be able to use my experience to mentor other start-ups, including young people who may not have made particularly great life choices to help them channel their energies into more positive activities.”
To relax, Lee is still a keen theatre-goer and collects the work of British artist,
Tracey Emin. He enjoys spending time with his husband at home in Islington and abroad at their place in Cyprus. Ultimately they would love to live in Hampstead or Highgate Village, for the lovely community atmosphere there.
Central Tickets won the Start-up Business of the Year award in the London Area finals.