Locally developed website Lavaseats.com is on its way to being Stubhub.com’s competition without tacking on all those pesky fees, at least according to co-owners Ryan Cohen and James Kirschner.
The entrepreneurs are working hard on their up-and-coming business, which sells big-event tickets at a significantly lower price than what’s found at other third-party websites.
They work from home and basically do all the dirty work by following and tracking websites to mainly sold out events, to buy and resell tickets at the best price possible. There’s no sales tax, no shipping fees, and no middleman. The tickets come with payment, so the buyer doesn’t hand over money until the goods are in their hands.
“Under the big umbrella, we are in the same business as scalpers, but we are presenting it in a whole new way,” Cohen admitted. And unlike scalpers, they don’t just hand over the tickets and run. They work from home, so you know where to find them if something goes wrong, and they’re there for you—up until showtime, anyway.
If they’re not attending the event themselves, Cohen and Kirschner take the time to show up outside big events to make sure their buyer made it in with no problems.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- IN ANY EVENT : James Kirschner (left) and Ryan Cohen (right) are the creators and developers of lavaseats.com, “the fee-free ticket company.”
The most recent event that could have turned into an issue was the last NBA All-Star game in Houston. Cohen and Kirschner had sold a pair of tickets that turned out to be reported as lost or stolen. To be clear, the tickets weren’t actually lost or stolen. In the long run, Cohen and Kirschner worked to rectify the situation—and not only did their buyer walk in satisfied, they reported, but he was also upgraded to better seats.
Lavaseats.com officially launched in April 2012, but the idea of this business has been stirring and developing in their minds since they were 13 and 14. Though they’re only 22 years old now, their parents, as entrepreneurs themselves, have been supportive the whole way. Cohen’s parents, owners of local restaurants Ciopinot and Olde Port Inn, and Kirschner’s dad, of Charles G. Kirschner Family Attorney at Law, haven’t had any input in regard to how they should run their business. But the guys have looked to Charles for legal advice on writing up contracts. Any input from their parents is mainly supportive, they said, though they admitted they’ve made mistakes along the way and the standard parental phrase, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson,” starts to come out. But by the time that happens, they’ve already re-strategized for the next time.
Aside from lavaseats.com, Kirschner is a Cal Poly student studying business finance and Cohen was studying business management but decided to focus on their own business while he works as a manager at Ciopinot.
Is there a Plan B? No. They’ve been putting so much time and energy into this that they’re looking to expand and bring on an assistant. In fact, they’ve already begun expanding to the UK. And, they do admit, the website isn’t the most reliable way to see what tickets are available—but if you call the customer service number online, you reach Cohen or Kirschner themselves. And if they can’t answer right away, they say, they’ll call you back shortly. Their business has grown by word of mouth, and they’ve enjoyed watching it develop.
“It’s expanding so fast we’re just letting it grow to see where it takes us,” Cohen said.
Even though the website doesn’t reflect upcoming events, they do have tickets to the Rolling Stones tour as well as a number of country shows. If you can think of it, they likely already have their eyes on it.
“It’s not just about saving someone money, but about empathizing and making sure they do get in and enjoy the show or event,” Cohen said.
They consider Stubhub their direct competition. And though Cohen and Kirschner may be young, their ambition is grand in scale. Check them out at lavaseats.com or call (419) 777-5282.
On April 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., join the 11th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march to end sexual assault in Mission Plaza. Registration and check-in begin at 10 a.m. and the walk will begin at 11:15 a.m. The fee is $25 per person and $10 per student. All proceeds will directly benefit SARP/NCWs in SLO County. ∆
Intern Lareina Gamboa compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your nonprofit and business news to firstname.lastname@example.org.