Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Joel Martin and I am a co-founder of Sellout. Sellout is a digital ticketing platform founded in the Fall of 2017. Our goal is to eliminate the five billion dollars in ticketing fraud and scalping that occurs every year in order to make events more lucrative for promoters.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
One of the things I think about a lot is how the mistakes we make shape us. When you are starting a business or career you get lots of advice from friends and mentors on mistakes that they made, and how to avoid them. When we were first getting started out with Sellout, I took as much this advice as possible because I was determined to not make the same mistakes that others had. But you learn that there is no way to avoid mistakes. You need to make mistakes because they are the true test to how resilient you are. You will always run into issues, but if you figure out how to make the issue the path, nothing can stop you. So take advice, but know that no one gets out of this without messing up, and no two stories are the same.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
Oh my gosh too many…but I will try. When we first conceived the idea for Sellout we instantly tried to build everything we believed the application would need. In fact, we did this without knowing a thing about the music industry. So as one could expect this turned out being very costly and took lots of time. We assumed that what the industry needed was essentially everything we built into our application. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. From this experience, we learned that the minimum viable product (MVP) should be built to be thrown away. It should be built with full intentions for prospective clients to tear it up, so you can improve it and take notes on what the full version needs to be.
Advice from my mistake: Invest the minimum amount in a product to prove there is a market. The sooner you can throw it away and improve it the better. If we would have done this, our software would have gotten where it is at today a lot sooner.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
Right now the music and entertainment industry is going through major shifts. Technology has changed the industry immensely, but ticketing has been a latecomer in this evolution. I see scalping tickets being eliminated in the next ten years be it by us, or someone else in the industry. I also see data in streaming playing a major role in how bands will book shows. Right now shows are booked on assumptions that certain areas might sell out a show. But with the geographical data that can be obtained through streaming, bands will be able to better pinpoint where ‘hot spots’ exist in their fan base, and play shows in those specific areas.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
When we were first starting out, we were seeking out lots of advice but learned that good advice for someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it is good advice for you. Every business and experience is different, and there is no way to prepare for the challenges that you will face. A lot of people suggest to get as much advice as possible, but the quality is better than quantity. Surround yourself with mentors and interesting people and then determine what advice is good and what is bad.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Personally, I am still having a hard time saying no to new clients for freelance work. Companies are fascinating to me. I love learning the ins and outs of their business models. Not to mention its just really hard to say no when I see an interesting opportunity. But this is something I’m hoping to work on this year.
For Sellout, In the last year, I have gotten better at knowing when and when not to talk to investors. I have developed a better idea of what type of people bring value to the company. I try to get investors that bring value besides just a dollar amount, and who we have now is a great group. It’s important to me that they bring knowledge, mentorship, and connections in the right places.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
One book that I would recommend is “Anything you Want” by Derek Sivers
This is a book that I bought for everyone in the company. It is one of the fastest business reads ever, only about 100 pages, and I read it around the same time we started Sellout. This book really helped us answer why we are doing what we are doing and helped us develop our own business goals, and what route to take with investors
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Well if I am going to be consistent, I guess I should say ignore all advice. The only advice I can give is to just jump in and get uncomfortable. There is no way to plan or prepare for the experiences you will have in life. The only thing you can gauge yourself by is your resilience. Don’t run from failure and start messing up now. Because those are the lessons you will learn and grow from.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
“The Obstacle is the Way” – Ryan Holiday
This is actually not a quote, it’s the title of a book written by Ryan Holiday. In my opinion, the book is alright… but I agree with the mentality of the title. It makes me feel fearless and reminds me that the key to happiness and success is to overcome the challenges that you meet. It isn’t that you always overcome the obstacle, sometimes you fail. In my view the lows as not that low. The worst things imaginable are still pretty great when you look back at the steps you took to get there, and all the experiences along the way.