Eventbrite, a ticketing start-up based in San Francisco, is making a leap into
the hardware business.
On Tuesday, the company released its “At The Door Card Reader,” a credit card reading device
for the iPad. The device is a rectangle-shaped dongle that fits into the charging dock at the
base of the tablet.
The card reader, which goes on sale Tuesday evening through EventBrite’s online store,
is aimed at event planners who want a way to sell tickets to their events at the door,
said Tamara Mendelsohn, the vice president for marketing.
Eventbrite does a fair amount of its business online, bolstered by the company’s social media
hooks and partnerships with Facebook and Twitter. But even so, the company thinks it is missing out
on a large portion of the market. “Many ticket sales happen at the door because people always make
last-minute decisions about what they’re doing,” Ms. Mendelsohn said.
She said the company decided to release a proprietary reader, instead of working with an
existing mobile payments company like Square, because third-party payments companies like
Square do not make available the data they capture about the people who are buying those tickets
at the door.
“It comes down to data integration,” she said. “Otherwise, the organizers don’t have a list of the
people who came or any way to contact them after the event.”
Eventbrite’s move echoes a similar one by PayPal, which recently unveiled its own alternative to Square,
a credit card reader that can be attached to an iPhone or iPad to process payments.
Ms. Mendelsohn said the company started discussing building its own hardware about a year ago.
The company designed the hardware internally, teamed up with an overseas manufacturer to
make the devices, then tested them at several big events, including a barbecue festival.
The reader sells for $10, although the company says it will refund that money to its buyers’
EventBrite account after the purchase.
The company said its readers could process 400 transactions per hour and could connect wirelessly
with printers to print out tickets and receipts for customers. The company hopes to expand its
business, which is already booming; Eventbrite processed more than 20 million tickets for
nearly half a million events during 2011.
The release of the card reader “really opens up the market for us,” Ms. Mendelsohn said.