What Happens When You Give Users The Power To Pay Nothing?

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For event company Picatic, the industry seemed too cookie cutter, too standard, too proper. “We looked at the market and saw that everyone was doing it the same way,” Founder and CEO, Jayesh Parmar detailed at the Gastown base. “We wanted to solve that.” So they took ticketing and committed an act of blasphemy in the industry by eliminating the fees and introducing a pay-what-you-want policy.

“The biggest pain point that we had was that people wouldn’t believe us. They thought there must be a hook, there must be a gimmick,” Jayesh laughed. “Come to my restaurant, eat for free? That doesn’t happen. But that’s what you have to do, in fact. You have to go out there and replace fractured systems.”

The state of the investors? Panic. The perspiration levels of the small sized start-up team? Buckets. But the unwavering dedication to the idea remained with a through-the-roof energy. “This is the way of the new future. Let’s develop relationships,” Jayesh stressed. “Nobody needs to be told how to tip at a restaurant.”

That’s how Picatic – born right out of the Vancouver tech scene, injecting a never-seen-before ticketing company model – went from Canada-wide, into the US market, and now, diving straight into the UK and Europe. Having just hopped off a plane from Toronto the day before to meet French government representatives for this expansion, Jayesh leaked out figures on what the PIcatic user base looked like.

“Sixty-eight per cent of our users are paying us and that’s great,” he revealed. “It’s working. There’s value in it and we’re empowering organizers.”

Creating a new breed of what they call “eventrepreneurs,” this local start-up is going world-wide fast and putting money straight into organizers’ pockets with their newest partnership with web and mobile payment giant, Stripe. A progress, Jayesh explained, is the kind of change Vancouver tech start-ups have the potential to inject beyond hometown borders.

“We went out there and did something no one has ever done in the world,” he said. “We need more Canadians doing that out there – and we can.”

For Picatic, it lies with one, potentially “HTTP 500” inducing question. “We feel like our product is sexier, we feel like our product is cleaner, but at the end of the day you have to ask what is the REAL difference?” Jayesh outlined. “You have to get away from putting lipstick on a pig and ask, am I really building cool tech?

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Romila Barryman is a mad-scientist of sorts. She experiments with words, concocts diabolical phrases and explores tech like it is territory to be conquered. Her current lab experiments can be seen as founder of the Tech section for VancityBuzz, Lighthouse Labs Alumni and Full Stack Developer.
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