Sister companies TicketRiver and TicketPrinting.com got their start the same way many Montana success stories begin: an incredibly talented founder who could be working anywhere in the world, making the decision to spend more time enjoying the unique quality of life in Big Sky Country.
In 1997, TicketPrinting.com’s original founder, Mike Yinger, was a chief software architect for IBM, living in Bigfork, MT - but spending most of his days traveling across the country and around the globe for work. He knew that had to change, so he put his business experience and entrepreneurial instincts to work making it happen. During a visit to the local Bigfork Playhouse theater he simply asked the owner what was difficult about his job, and told him he could build the software to fix it. The answer was ticket printing - and a pioneering business with a global presence based in Harlowton, MT was born.
Yinger very quickly went from developing ticket printing software, to making perforated ticket paper in his garage for customers who had trouble finding it in their communities, to offering a first-of-its-kind e-commerce site that handled event ticket printing from start to finish. To cover production demand, he set up a printing headquarters in the rural community of Harlowton (population 997 at the 2010 census) and hired technicians and customer service representatives for a team that has now grown to 18 full-time positions, and 15 part-time positions.
In 2007, Lance Trebesch joined TicketPrinting.com as co-owner and CEO. Lance’s background is in tech startups in Silicon Valley, but his heart has always been in the Northern Rockies since growing up in Idaho. Lance couldn’t be happier about where his career has taken him:
“I always knew I wanted to get back to the mountains with my family, so we checked out a lot of mountain towns over the years. My wife and I loved skiing in Jackson and Sun Valley, but we were looking for a really livable community where we could raise our kids - that was definitely Bozeman. We knew as soon as we got here.”
Lance’s passion for Bozeman’s mountains and wide open spaces, and his belief that access to public lands and wild open spaces are a huge economic growth driver for Montana, is so strong that he has become an outspoken champion for the group, Business for Montana’s Outdoors - encouraging business leaders across the state to advocate for open space conservation measures.
In 2009, the company expanding the TicketPrinting.com business model to the UK and Australia where they are enjoying excellent growth. In January 2012, they expanded to Canada.
“We have a huge advantage with our operations and customer service team...that’s our Montana advantage”
In 2010, Trebesch helped launch TicketRiver; a software-as-a-service (Saas) platform that allows organizations around the world to set up events and sell tickets online. Since the 2010 launch, TicketRiver has grown more than 100% each year. “Events are always happening - every day, everywhere - and online ticket sales are becoming ubiquitous as people get more comfortable in this space. We definitely see online events promotion and ticket sales as our hottest target for future growth.”
TicketRiver’s and TicketPrinting.com’s growth strategy for the next five years also includes global expansion to the rest of the European market, Asia, and South America as primary targets, and plans for a private label offering; enabling organizations to sell products seamlessly on their own websites. That service isn’t just an added convenience for customers - it allows TicketRiver to grow beyond their organic website traffic and increase their reach.
Even with all of this growth in the technical arena of TicketRiver, Trebesch still sees Harlowton as the heart of their operation, largely due to the quality workforce they’ve been able to find there, and the customer service experience they offer:
“We have a huge advantage with our operations and customer service team in Harlowton. These people are smart, adaptive, and hard working. That’s enabled us to grow quickly, and we’re constantly getting great feedback from customers around the world about the quality of their experiences interacting with our team. That’s pretty rare in online sales and services these days...but that’s our Montana advantage.”