Jason Shatsky is the CEO of TicketRev, a fan-driven platform for live event tickets. Jason participated in the second cohort of the Soma Fellows program from November 2022 to January 2023. I talked with Jason about the program’s admission process, how Soma Capital helps teams raise money, what advice he would give to someone applying to the program, and more.
- The Soma Fellows program was originally intended for student founders but is now open to anyone. Jason mentioned the program still skews young with most people in their early to mid 20s.
- The Soma Fellows program is remote. There are fireside chats, dedicated programming, and more. Jason mentioned his favorite part of the program was attending office hours to work directly with the Soma team to get support on specific topics for his business.
- Soma invests $100K on an uncapped SAFE.
Kieran: Thanks, Jason, for joining me today. To start us off, can you introduce yourself?
Jason: My name is Jason Statsky. I’m the Co-Founder & CEO of TicketRev. We’re the first fan-driven platform for live event tickets. Our VR technology allows fans to name their price for upcoming games and concerts. So, we’re building a more fan-friendly way to find tickets to your favorite live events through our marketplace and white-label integration for teams. I’m based in South Florida, and I’ve been running TicketRev for almost three years. I graduated from Babson College, a small entrepreneurial school outside Boston, in 2021. I am excited to talk more.
Kieran: Is TicketRev live across all sports platforms – NBA, NFL, MLB?
Jason: You can download the TicketRev app on the App Store and Google Play. We’re available in every city around the country.
Kieran: You participated in the second cohort from November 2022 to January 2023. Is that correct?
Kieran: Why did you apply to the Soma Fellows program? What stood out about that program?
Jason: Yeah, so I discovered Soma Capital via a couple of friends who run companies that Soma had invested in prior. My initial conversations with Soma were about potentially raising at some point, which never happened immediately. A few months later, I heard about this program and got back in touch. It was a standard application—your typical application of yourself and the company. I think there is an emphasis on who you are as a founder and an operator. They describe the program as intensive, all virtual, $100K investments and just access and resources to the Soma community was very attractive.
Kieran: Can you talk more about the admission process? Was it just a written application, one interview, then acceptance?
Jason: I’m trying to remember since it was over a year ago. They had known me prior, which was helpful. After applying, we had another conversation to meet more of their team members. They sent me the acceptance email in early October of last year.
Kieran: Do you remember any questions that stood out during or prior to that interview call (when meeting with the Soma team)?
Jason: There may have been. It was probably more of an update call, given they already knew who I was. But, I think more broadly, when speaking to a VC firm or accelerator, you should be prepared to talk about why you’re the right founder to do this, what the market opportunity and solution look like, and how big the company can become.
Kieran: Can you share your example of what you shared with them about your team?
Jason: The biggest thing for us has been belief in our team. TicketRev is led by myself and my co-founder, JB. So, a lot of it was selling ourselves as founders and operators and ultimately explaining our concept. In our industry, specifically in event ticketing, people know there’s room for disruption, and consumers worldwide are frustrated with it. So, we focused on outlining what exists and how to solve that.
Kieran: For the actual program, you mentioned some of the aspects of it. There are fireside chats, dedicated programming, and office hours with the Soma team. Can you describe in more detail how you utilized the program?
Jason: It’s completely virtual. There may have been a few arranged meetups, but a much larger emphasis is on virtual programming. The entire community is in Slack. So, they are doing their best to form that virtual community. Initially, they allowed founders to introduce themselves and things like that. The programming was several months. (They would bring in) founders within the Soma portfolio, vendors, and people with specific tips on hiring, raising funds, etc. There’s a schedule throughout the program, and different Soma team members are conducting workshops on raising a round, market conditions, etc. My favorite part was the office hours. The Soma team is incredibly knowledgeable. So, last year, there were maybe two days a week for a certain set time window where they could jump on Zoom (with you). That’s always really valuable in the early stages, especially in the early stages of building a company around any questions about how investors think, how I should be thinking about a certain metric, etc. It’ ’s really good to have investors share their perspective of what future investors may be thinking.
Kieran: What was the most valuable piece of advice that you received during those office hours?
Jason: I remember one session with one of their team members named William. We went through the cost to acquire a customer over a lifetime value calculation and built a spreadsheet that I continue to use today, which was super helpful.
Kieran: Who leads the programming? Is it mostly just the partners that speak on those topics?
Jason: There are a couple of partners at Soma who are responsible for creating the programming and being your point of contact.
Kieran: What would be your feedback to the Soma team to make the program even more valuable? Is there anything missing?
Jason: No, I don’t think anything is missing. I enjoyed it. I think it’s a little bit easier, just not for Soma specifically, but more broadly, to build community in person. Given that founders are across the country or world, it’s impossible. I did a Techstars program a few months later, which was in person, so the difference in getting to know founders in person.
Kieran: How do they facilitate that remote community?
Jason: Yeah, the first call was like an introductory call. Everyone built a slide of who they are and what they are building with fun facts. Then, we had a traditional orientation-type call. The Slack workspace has many channels – asks, hiring, funding, etc.
Kieran: What happens on Demo Day? How do they structure that event?
Jason: So, the demos were all online, pre-recorded pitches. They invite their investor database, who can view the event online. They introduce each founder, play the recordings, provide some form or opt-in for the audience, and facilitate introductions.
Kieran: I saw you were able to raise a round. Was a lot of money in that round from that Demo Day, or was it raised afterward?
Jason: A combination. Soma has a really good network of VCs, not just from the event specifically but more broadly from their imprint on the VC and entrepreneurial community. Soma has a lot of resources that extend beyond the program – a co-investor list and things like that. So, they’re incredibly helpful in helping you discover opportunities, whether its other VC firms or other opportunities in general.
Kieran: They invest $100K into startups. What are the terms of the investment, and how do they handle future financing rounds?
Jason: Yeah, they try to invest in the most founder-friendly terms possible. For us last year, it was via an uncapped SAFE. For people unfamiliar, it’s an agreement to invest $100K and convert at a valuation determined in a future round. I think it’s the best situation for founders because the valuation is delayed, and they are giving you the money upfront. I can’t speak on future financing yet.
Kieran: I was reading this program’s initial blog post and think it was for student founders. They went away from that, and anyone can participate. Were most of the founders in your cohort recent grads or student founders?
Jason: I don’t remember exactly. Generally, it was a younger crowd. I was 24 at the time. I would say most were a few years younger or a few years older.
Kieran: What advice would you give someone applying to the Soma Fellows program?
Jason: You need to be vulnerable in your application. I think that goes for any program application. Show who you are and what’s unique about you. At the end of the day, business models and vision will change. A big part of early-stage investing is choosing the right founding team that can make things happen. Outline a vision of why you can build this company uniquely to anyone else.
Kieran: What advice would you give to a founder accepted into the program to make the most out of it?
Jason: Take advantage of everything the program has to offer. You get out what you put into it. Entrepreneurship, and especially this network, is very relationship-based. So, just getting accepted doesn’t equal success, but utilizing what the program offers equals success.
Kieran: Is there anything that I didn’t ask about that you think is important to know for someone considering this program?
Jason: No, not necessarily. I believe you have to be building something technical. So, it’s not necessarily a consumer package goods or e-commerce type program. But they are responsive to people who have questions.