Tech Transformers

Google-backed ticket app looks to rival Ticketmaster

A new way to order tickets for live music

Fresh off a multi-million dollar funding round, U.K. start-up Dice – which lets people buy tickets without the booking fee – is eyeing expansion and hopes to take on the likes of Ticketmaster.

Users of Dice, which is aimed at a young audience, can buy tickets for gigs via a mobile phone app and avoid paying booking fees.

"In the past…you'd have to have ticket companies who would print off the tickets, perforate them up, put them in little envelopes and mail them off. But with Dice the ticket goes immediately onto the fan's phone so it doesn't really cost us anything to do it," Phil Hutcheon, founder and CEO of Dice, told CNBC on Tuesday.

"Ticket fees are like a drug and we've been able to launch without any of those overheads," he added.

Live music disruption?

Hutcheon is a music-industry veteran and his start-up relies on the relationships he has built with artists, promoters and venues. Hutcheon goes directly to these entities—or they go to him—and asks them to list some of their tickets on his platform.

Last month, Dice raised £1.3 million ($2 million) in a round of funding that followed one in August 2014 that raised £1 million.

Mustafa Suleyman and Demis Hassabis, the founders of Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind are among the backers. In the last month, sales on the platform have risen 60 percent, though Dice did not wish to release the actual figure.

Dice is directly competing with the likes of ticket-selling website Ticketmaster and resale sites like Seatwave.


With streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music on the rise and music downloading under threat, artists are relying more on concerts and performances for money.

Hutcheon said this trend is positive for Dice.

"For us, the next part of the industry to be disrupted is live music," the founder told CNBC.

France eyed for expansion

Hutcheon is looking to expand quickly and hopes to employ around 40 staff by the end of the year, up from the current 25.

The next target market is France and the start-up will look for more funding later this year.

Outside of funding and expansion, Hutcheon said that the next step was to upgrade the app, in order to keep people engaged.

"What we are seeing is fans regularly opening the app, browsing around, and we need to think about ways to engage them with every visit, even on those occasions when they're not buying tickets," Hutcheon told CNBC.