At Pittsburgh's ShowClix offices, have fun doing business — that's the ticket!
Josh Dziabiak and Lynsie Campbell spent a recent morning dodging darts shot by employees, laughing as orange Nerf pieces flew at them.
It was part of a typical day for Dziabiak and Campbell, co-founders of ShowClix, a high-tech company that specializes in event-ticketing software.
Their business has become the preferred ticketing solution for thousands of performing arts theaters, live music vendors and festivals, and museums, nonprofit fundraisers, night clubs, even circuses and rodeos.
Their clients number about 8,000 — and growing.
“We want there to be great energy here in the office, and there is,” says Dziabiak, chief executive officer. “We are in the entertainment business, so it should be a fun and entertaining work atmosphere. I love both the technology and entertainment sides of this business.”
Many employees have outside interests as disc jockeys and band members. That experience gives them a better understanding of the ticket-selling event industry, employees agree.
It's about working hard and playing hard, says Campbell, the president.
“We want people to be smiling at work and to feel comfortable working here,” she says. “Laughter and humor are important in an office atmosphere. Our story is simple. We sell tickets. But we need everyone in this office to be essential parts of helping to grow this company by helping clients get those tickets to people who want them.”
The business has flourished so that they've outgrown spaces in Oakmont and Shadyside. They moved to Centre City Tower, Downtown, in a spacious office encased by windows overlooking the city.
But it's a space that will not hold Dziabak for long — he announced last week that he will leave his position as CEO to take on a new challenge in Austin, Texas. He will remain as the largest shareholder, retain his seat on the board of directors and continue to be active in strategic decisions and product development. He continues to look for new challenges, taking the same risks that he brought to the creation of ShowClix.
In the beginning
ShowClix was an idea Dziabiak had six years ago and shared with Campbell when the two worked at Spreadshirt, a Greensburg company that specializes in custom T-shirts and clothing.
“I believe we work well together, because we have a complementary skill set,” Campbell says. “I do marketing and advertising and public relations, and he handles design and the technical details. But we both understand what it takes to run a successful business.”
At the end of the day, the business plan is simple — to provide tickets — but they believe the ticket is more than a piece of paper. It's a vehicle to get someone through the turnstile.
Making sure it gets to that someone in time is key. While most people don't think about how they get the ticket, Dziabiak and Campbell spend a lot of time pondering it.
Because they do, venues and promoters around the world use ShowClix to manage their online ticketing, telephone support and sales, box-office operations, admissions and event promotions.
Between games of ping pong, billiards and dodging darts, Dziabiak and Campbell direct employees to help clients build crowds. The two come from different backgrounds.
Dziabiak, 25, never went to high school or college. The last time he was in a classroom was when he was 14 years old. He had started a web hosting company.
“My parents were definitely reluctant and did not give me the immediate green light,” says Dziabiak, a Beaver County native, who lives on the South Side.
He did some home schooling and online instruction. “It was definitely a concern.
“Ultimately, they saw it as an opportunity for me to learn a lot from the experience, so that helped minimize their anxiety. They ended up letting me do it, and have been supportive ever since.”
Campbell, 34, an Oakmont native, lives in Edgewood. She attended Riverview High School, entered Penn State and finished her bachelor's degree in journalism at Duquesne University. She has worked as talent coordinator for “The Rosie O'Donnell Show” in New York City, promotions and advertising coordinator at the Pittsburgh Pirates, publicist at a music public relations firm Mitch Schneider in Los Angeles, and director of marketing at JJ Gumberg Co. and Spreadshirt.
Both founders allow employees to carve out their own place in the company, says Anthony Fabbricatore, content manager.
Campbell “allows me to do things my way and to measure my success and be responsible for my growth,” Fabbricatore says. “It's a wonderful place to work.”
Growing in a competitive market
The company is growing at a fast pace –— doubling clients every year, from small to big, from one-time events to multiple. Those clients are happy to sing their praises.
“It has been such a great resource for us,” says Demeatria Boccella, co-founder and executive producer of the FashionAFRICANA event. “They simplified the ticket process, and have been wonderful to work with.”
Aaron Wartner, vice president of sales and marketing for LEGO Kidsfest that was recently in town at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, says ShowClix handles everything from the basic ticket acquisition to more detailed information about who is buying tickets. LEGO Kidsfest continues to be innovative, Wartner says, and ShowClix has helped with the event's changing needs.
“They have been wonderful,” Wartner says. “They are honest people. We did look far and wide for a system that could best fit our needs, and ShowClix does it all. They are fantastic. They stay ahead of the curve on ticket buying. Their system runs smoothly.”
A massive support system helps with customer questions, and providing useful information to clients, Wartner says. At times, as many as 2,000 tickets need to be processed in a day.
Dziabiak and Campbell developed a business plan in 2006, followed by the website launch in 2007. They compete well against giants such as Ticketmaster.
“We had a vision, and have followed that vision,” Dziabiak says. “But we have also adapted that vision, which you have to do in business.”
Both love the entertainment industry.
“I am an ‘entertainment junkie,'” Campbell says. “ShowClix provides me with a great opportunity to work in the city I love and in the entertainment business. I have always wanted to be part of a successful business. I was the girl who had the lemonade stand and the paper route. I love our story. It isn't complicated. It's just helping people get a ticket.”
ShowClix is driven by people who have the right combination of business savvy and technical expertise, chief operating officer Tom Costa says.
“They understand their customer and the markets,” Costa says. “They sometimes make bold moves and place big bets, but they pay off.”
Jim Rice, an account manager, says Dziabiak and Campbell are both accessible and open to ideas.
“We interact with each other, and they listen to us,” Rice says. “They are easy to talk to. You don't find that at many companies.”
Director of account management Matt Donnelly says he never imagined himself in an office setting, but ShowClix is the perfect fit.
“It's a team environment, and everyone works so well together,” Donnelly says. “They trust us, and we have freedom to express our ideas, and we all learn from each other.”
What they are trying to accomplish is quite easy, Dziabiak says.
“At the end of the day, we are delivering a ticket,” he says. “But there are many ways to sell that ticket, from a season ticket to a single ticket to a group of tickets. That is where we come in. Selling tickets are a passion for us. We focus on customer support, which is highly overlooked in our industry.
“We also focus on taking care of our employees, because we all need to work together for this to work well,” he says. “We like being relaxed and giving employees time to play games or relax — as long as the tickets continue to get into the hands of the people who want them.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.