MADE Festival’s inspiring speakers: Joe Cohen, Seatwave

Are you looking forward to MADE Festival?

I am. I think events like this help people who've always wanted to start a business realise that it's possible. It showcases people like me who took the plunge and came through the other side.

Was there anything like MADE when you started out?

No, there was nothing around like MADE Festival happening that I was aware of. Even if there was, I wouldn't have heard of it as there wasn't the kind of community and connectivity among small business owners that there is now. The day I started Seatwave, I was sitting in a room by myself, I opened my laptop and I thought, right, what do I do now? It's great that there's this whole start-up community now.

What inspired you?

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My grandfather and my father were entrepreneurs. Plus I have always had a little bit of a problem with authority. I never really wanted to listen to anyone else, so I found it difficult working in companies. I got to the point where I was starting a business inside a bigger company and I realised that I was doing this anyway, so why shouldn't I do it individually. The final push came when I finally got over the illusion that it's harder to fail on your own. The reality is, it makes no difference if things don't work out, you just pick up and keep going. I knew there were problems in the ticket business and I thought I could solve them.

What inspired you to keep going during the tough times?

I've always taken the view of Hernán Cortés. He was sent from Spain with his crew to conquer the Aztec Kingdom. He had just 600 men and a couple of hundred horses while the Aztec kingdom had five million people. The first thing he did when he landed in Mexico was to burn all of his ships. When the Aztecs saw that, they immediately surrendered. You have to dive in and see that there's no outcome other than success eventually. When I was growing up I played a lot of sports, the difference between a winner and everyone else is the winner doesn't quit until it's done. What I'm saying is, if you stay at stuff, eventually you are going get there if you don't give up.

Anything you would have done differently?

I would have gone out on my own sooner. I think I felt at the time like I needed some other qualification or experience and the reality is that I probably didn't.

Where should people be looking for inspiration?

I think people should only start a business if they have an idea or a concept that gnaws at them so much that they can't not start a business. It requires that much passion and energy. So if you're anything other than completely crazed by this idea, then you might not have the passion and energy to do it.

Is it harder to start a business now than when you launched?

I think that there are things that are harder and things that are easier but if you add them up it's probably about the same. The main changes since I started are we didn't have the support you have now, and also it used to be so expensive to launch a business back then.

Seatwave has come in for some criticism of late. Does that inspire you to succeed even more?

I don't know if it has inspired me any more. I think that it makes me feel proud of my team in the way that they do business and the way that they adhere to the values of the company [because] I felt very proud of team and the way the team responded.

Did you understand why people were scrutinizing Seatwave?

I understood why it was coming our way - I think we're an easy target. I also think there are a lot of people who stand to gain by trying to paint a negative picture of what we do, [such as] event organisers, who feel any revenue generated around shows should be theirs, other ticket companies, and members of the press to some degree as it's a story they can keep writing and pushing an emotional angle on. But consumers have largely spoken out about how they feel about this industry by voting with their credit cards and using Seatwave.

For more information about MADE Festival, click here

We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here