You are reading: Graduate student’s app, WillCall, acquired by Ticketfly
Graduate student’s app, WillCall, acquired by Ticketfly
Students at the Trulaske College of Business could take some advice from graduate student Brad White, whose mobile application WillCall was recently acquired by Ticketfly.
WillCall offers iOS and Android users an easy way to discover concerts in their area and purchase tickets. With the app, users can also buy merchandise from the artist.
White and a team of six others began developing the app at Seattle’s Startup Weekend, a movement for entrepreneurs looking to found a startup company, in 2010.
White, who received a bachelor’s degree from MU in 2006, said Ticketfly’s acquisition of WillCall seems like the logical next step for this startup, and he believes it’s a great fit.
“A challenge for WillCall has been that ticket inventory is highly concentrated between a few major players who have exclusive agreements with venues, for example, Ticketfly, Ticketmaster and LiveNation,” White said. “This required WillCall to negotiate deals directly with venues and promoters.”
Turning WillCall over to Ticketfly is just another step in the problem-solving process that White said is vital to business plans.
“Too often, new ventures start based on an idea without understanding (first) what is the problem and (second) how many people want a solution,” he said. “Not just your solution, but any solution at all.”
This plan allowed WillCall to take an innovative idea and turn it into a highly marketable and profitable business.
“By staying focused on the problem, you give your business flexibility to adapt to what consumers really want, versus trying to force a solution that may not be right for them,” White said.
WillCall partnered with Ticketfly for about a year and a half prior to the acquisition to have access to additional tickets, and now with Ticketfly’s acquisition of WillCall, White said this will help accelerate the business even faster.
Ticketfly’s partnership means expanding WillCall to more cities and adding more shows, which ultimately will further White’s vision for the app.
The application started small, and White said he views startup businesses as an advantage of sorts.
“Established companies spend a significant amount of time and resources to validate new products before ever taking it to market,” he said. “With a startup, you can start the process by simply inviting friends out for coffee and getting their feedback.”
Four years after beginning WillCall, White is currently enrolled in Trulaske’s execMBA program and will earn a graduate degree in 2016.
Joan Gabel, senior dean of the Trulaske College of Business, said students from the program often find success after graduation.
“We have students from our undergraduate and graduate programs who launch businesses while they study with us, and we are very proud of each and every one for those successes,” Gabel said.
WillCall began as a side project while White worked for Coca-Cola in Seattle after finishing his undergraduate degree. While in Seattle, White’s marketing job with Coca-Cola had him working with big names such as LiveNation, the Seattle Seahawks and the University of Washington.
Gabel said Trulaske provides students such as White with an environment that nurtures success.
“We teach the skills that help foster a sense of entrepreneurship, and we provide resources that help get those businesses off the ground,” Gabel said.
White possessed a knack for business early on. At the age of 11, he created a website for a local motorcycle shop. While White admits that the website was not very good, he recognizes what the experience meant.
“Without realizing, it was my first step in entrepreneurship,” White said.
As a sophomore in high school, White created another website, MusicFans.com. This time the enterprise was bigger, and White eventually was able to sell the site to an interested company.
“These early experiences set the foundation for my entrepreneurial spirit and love of technology,” he said.
The reporter’s name was originally spelled incorrectly. The Maneater regrets this error.
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