Being ditched at the last minute for a concert or movie has happened to all of us (some more than others). It’s not just missing a companion that irritates, but also the thought that a pre-bought ticket is likely going to waste. The option, of course, is to flog the spare seat off, but it’s not always convenient to find lurkers around fishing for last-minute deals.
This is the solution that brothers Ooi Eu Veng and Ooi Eu Gene have come up with in their bootstrap idea, Fong Fei Kei (it’s a Cantonese slang term for being ditched, often shortened to “FFK”). Through this service, which is due to launch within a few months from its current private beta phase, users can post for sale spare tickets of concerts, movies, dinner vouchers – essentially any pass that’s transferable – to buyers who have indicated their interest in snapping up last-minute deals.
“You see it all the time on Twitter and Facebook,” explains Eu Veng. “Someone posts up a status on spare tickets to a movie or whatever and see if anyone’s interested, but it gets buried after a few minutes. You can constantly retweet it, but it’s a messy process, and the chances of two people meeting each others’ sale and demand is low,” he says.
Through the service, Eu Veng explains, the user who requested for a particular ticket would be notified via e-mail or on the website if there’s a matching seller. But there’s much more behind FongFeiKei’s seemingly simple plan. We talked to the brothers to find out more about the service, their revenue model, and when Fong Fei Kei would be open to the public.
How long did the project take to develop?
Ooi Eu Veng (EV): We spent about three months working on it, and currently we’re in private beta at the moment, with ten of our friends trying it out and giving us feedback. We wanted to iron out the bugs first before we opened it to a public beta test – I don’t think we can handle the flood of e-mail complaints right now! If everything checks out, we’ll open up to a public beta within two to three months, inviting 50 people per batch.
What are you doing now to create buzz for the site before it launches?
EV: We’ve come up with an interesting strategy on Twitter. We started it about three weeks ago, and using @FongFeiKei we’ve been actively tracking those who are putting up spare tickets for sale, RT-ing that, and matching them with people who are looking for those tickets. Through this manual matching process, we wanted to show that what is manually done now would be automatically done using the service.
What’s your revenue model? Are you planning to take a cut from user-to-user sales?
EV: We first launched this as a service that benefits the community, so we don’t charge for user-to-user transactions. There are limits, however. Usually, in a ditched situation, you’d get four or five tickets at most. Anything more than that, and it looks as if you’re trying to make a quick profit, and it isn’t a community service any longer. In cases where users are selling bulk amounts of of five, ten or more tickets, we’ll charge a small commission for that.
It’s not only about user-to-users though. We know that requests are going to be very specific; a person who wants air tickets to Bali on a specific date, time and airline is going to find it near impossible to get a willing seller who got ditched. So what we plan to do is not only broker ticket sales that are bought and unused, but also tickets that are unused and unsold.
For example, if you want to be notified of cheap air tickets to Bali, and there are 20 others who’ve requested the same, an airline could come in, see a demand here for tickets to Bali, and they can use the demand to sell unsold tickets at the final few hours.
Ooi Eu Gene (EG): So it’s not only limited from user-to-user transactions, but also possibly corporations from bigger companies to flog their unsold tickets who would rather sell them at a cheap price than go to waste. So if a company can’t sell tickets in the last three days, they can just throw it out to us. This is great for concerts, shows, and musicals that don’t sell out.
Have you come across a similar model for FFK anywhere else?
EV: As far as we know, there isn’t a service that gives you last-minute deals for these tickets – except maybe eBay, but they don’t have a matching algorithm, which we intend to have. This matching algorithm we’re developing calculates a rating score by comparing what a person wants against with what’s actually available.
EG: So for instance, if a person requested for Maroon 5 concert tickets for a specific date, and there are none available, the service would suggest something close to that. This gives buyers a choice in purchasing tickets that are close enough to their request, but differ in terms of price, date, or location, for example.
What’s next for the development road map?
EV: We’re definitely looking into developing mobile apps. The act of FFK-ing often happens at the location of the event, so it’s unlikely that users would be near a PC to post up their tickets for sale. So, we’re first planning to develop a web-app that would give users a glance of what deals are available relative to their location, and later on, may look into developing native apps.
Right now, we’re not a payment gateway – we don’t plan to do monetary transactions for the ticket purchases. But if the demand is high, we may implement a payment system to make things easier for the consumer. Keep in mind we’ve got many hurdles to go through once we’re an e-commerce site – we’ve got to consider security checkpoints and making sure with our clients that what we sell to the consumer is valid and in line with the clients’ inventory to avoid scams.