Mike Domek, 36
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Projected 2005 Sales: Over $120 million
Description: World's largest online marketplace for secondary event tickets
The Ticket Master: If you're an avid event-goer in the Chicago area, you might run into Mike Domek at a Cubs game or in the front rows of a Def Leppard concert. These days, the founder of online ticket reseller TicketsNow has no problem getting good seats. But that wasn't always the case. When he first began selling secondhand tickets the old-fashioned way, he sometimes had to call over 20 different ticket brokers looking for the best locations and deals for an event. Domek decided to take the inefficiency out of the system by moving his ticket service onto the internet.
$100 and 7 Years: Domek started his business with $100 and a one-bedroom apartment in 1992. He had run out of money for college and decided to try ticket brokering full time to save up for school. He never went back. It was seven years before TicketsNow, the online company, was launched from the foundation of that original ticket brokerage. All those years of slow growth and building relationships with ticket brokers across the country finally paid off. This year, TicketsNow expects to more than double its 2004 sales--money it won't have to share with investors. Says Domek, "I'm very proud to say we haven't had a penny of outside funding."
Size Matters: Since the website was launched in 1999 from a 1,600-square-foot building with seven employees, Tickets-Now has exploded to 170 employees and has filled its 16,500 square feet of assorted office spaces to capacity. That sort of rapid growth would send some companies reeling, but Domek takes it in stride. "My plans are to keep doing what's best for the company, and right now what's best for the company is to keep growing."
Ticket, Please: The secondary ticket market is hotter and more legitimate than ever, and TicketsNow's technology and security are a big reason. Domek is just excited to be a part of something he's loved since childhood. Says Domek, "There's so much emotion in buying tickets." And for Domek, frustration is no longer one of those emotions. --Amanda C. Kooser
Originally published in the November 2005 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine