Canadian Startup Award Nominee Picatic Prevents Parties from Going Bust

Picatic has been nominated for a 2013 Canadian Startup Award in the Startup of the Year category. Let’s investigate!

At first blush, Picatic comes across as just another ticketing platform, along the lines of EventBrite, eVite of Meetup. I’ll admit that even I didn’t catch on to the product’s innovation until well after the interview, when the synapses in my brain finally choked and sputtered to life and I had that “aha” moment.

Picatic’s website makes the bold claim, “Never lose money organizing an event again.” That’s because the platform enables you to crowdfund your event, pre-selling tickets to people before you’ve event spent Dollar One booking a venue, hiring the entertainment, or putting a deposit down on those 200 chocolate fountains. Much like the model made popular by Kickstarter, unless a minimum threshold of support is met, the event doesn’t happen.

“Before Picatic, there was no other option,” explained Jayesh Parmar, the startup’s CEO and cofounder. “We … allow [organizers] to test their market. If the funding goal is not met, all the money is returned to guests without any financial loss.”

In addition to this safer approach to event organizing, Picatic provides all the tools you need to set up a slick-looking web page to entice prospective attendees.

The other noteworthy thing about Picatic, who recently expanded to markets in the UK and Europe, is that their pricing is—and I hope you’re sitting down for this—pay-what-you-can. That’s right: for the low, low price of whatever you want, you can organize a crowdfunded Picatic event. I politely asked Parmar what on Earth he was thinking (in not so many words).

“When we came up with the idea we were not sure how our investors would take it. I’m not going to hoodwink you and say that everyone was excited. There were some who were nervous,” he says.

Quoth the startup:

Industry standards apply a base per ticket fee with additional variable fees. Event organizers absorb these fees and inevitably pass them onto their attendees. The platform has boldly gone away from base and variable fees; alternatively providing the organizer a “no hooks or gimmicks” choice to pay what they want. Upon completion of the event, organizers may choose to pay zero dollars, market value, or above market value in one payment.

The ballsy pay-what-you-can model has seen excellent returns in other markets, such as the indie game scene’s Humble Indie Bundle, who appear to have it down to a science. How did Picatic fare?

“We are pleased to announce that we were blown away by the response metrics and traction,” said Parmar, whose startup was invested in by BDC Venture Capital through its convertible notes program after graduating from Extreme Startups in 2012. “We are making money, and because of that we are growing and expanding to foreign markets on January 20th.”  You win this one, humanity. Faith restored … for now.

To date, Picatic is the only 2013 Canadian Startup Awards nominee who took the bait when asked to throw a little smacktalk around. Parmar starts off like a politician, “Pure respect to all startups that put themselves out there and go for it.” After a beat, he adds,  ” That being said, I noticed that another extreme alumni Shoplocket is also nominated—great team and product. However, awful ping-pong players. Just awful.”

Shots fired! Are you gonna take that, Shoplocket?

Vote for Picatic, who are clearly the category’s best at ping-pong (unless Shoplocket has anything to say about it?) and all your favourites on the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards.