Biz buzz // Ticket company

Easy-to-use ticket company about to expand

Mark Sielaff and Nicholas McCulloch may have found the winning ticket.

Or, at least they are selling that ticket. Their company, Tempo Tickets, launched in December and since then has sold tickets online for hundreds of concerts, events and shows in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

Their product allows venue owners to sell tickets online and scan them at the gate using a Motorola Droid cell phone with an application and software created by Sielaff.

From a customer’s standpoint, Tempo Tickets, 2521 Garfield Ave. S., fees are cheap compared to Ticketmaster, which can charge more than 25 percent of the ticket price. Tempo Ticket fees are $2.50 to $3.50 for a $30 ticket. That’s it. No printing fees. No credit card fees.

“We think it should be a transparent ticket-buying process and one-fee is the way to do that,” McCulloch said.

While Tempo Tickets, which is based in the Whittier neighborhood, is preparing to expand its product nationally, Sielaff and McCulloch still remember the day the idea was born.

Friends since joining the 7th grade swimming team in Fridley, Sielaff and McCulloch stayed pals through college. While Sielaff went to school for computer science and math at Carleton College and McCulloch to the University of St. Thomas for marketing, they stayed in touch through bike races, triathlons and swimming.

In 2007, McCulloch, now 26, went online to register for a popular triathlon. For 90 minutes he clicked through dozens of screens while the website crashed as the popular triathlon sold out.

Peeved, he went on a rant to Sielaff, who at the time was working for now defunct ticket seller, CommunityTix of St. Paul.

“I was ranting to him — and it was just a rant — but it extended to, ‘that is what you do for a job and I do marketing, let’s do this.’ And it was that night or that week we went out and bought a server.”

Sielaff, the company president, spent the next couple years designing the software. Originally, Tempo Tickets was going to come with a scanner gun. But then, in 2008, the Droid was released. Sielaff, now 27, designed an application that allows the Droid to scan tickets from the phone’s camera lens. Each phone can scan up to 1,800 tickets an hour and multiple Droids can be used at one venue.

The Droid, McCulloch said, made Tempo Tickets easy for venues and promoters to use. It’s simplicity, he said, that makes the company great.

Ticket buyers need only click through two screens to buy their tickets. Venues can use their own printer to print only as many tickets they need. They can also use the Droids as a will-call window and venues can instantly see how many tickets have been sold. Customers can also download tickets onto their cell phones and have them scanned by a Droid.

“What we’ve done is used commodity hardware … things people are more familiar with, things that are more powerful, and devices that are easier to replace and less expensive,” said McCulloch, the company’s director of marketing and sales. “So that lowers their overhead, increases their accessibility, and makes for a cost-effective, powerful product.”

Tempo Tickets is used at several smaller venues in the Twin Cities, such as Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in St. Louis Park, The Soap Factory art gallery near Downtown and soon will be used by Comedy Sportz in Uptown.

Now that McCulloch and Sielaff know how reliable and easy their product is to use, they’re ready to start competing on a national level.

“We’ve talked to several hundred venues in California, Arizona, Denver.
So we’re kind of on an event horizon where we’re really going to start reaching out to everyone else,” McCulloch said. “We wanted to test the product fully and we wanted our website to be at a different level, where the branding is where we needed it to be and create some marketing material, and we’re like right there.”

Check out Tempo Tickets online at tempotickets.com.

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Wasteland novelty shop will shift focus to sign painting

Nancy Waller is shifting the focus of her 20-year-old business from a retail and novelty shop that specializes in environmentally friendly artwork to a sign painting business.

Wasteland, 318 42nd St. W., will keep its name, but also add the “Waller Sign” part of the business.

Waller will continue to operate the retail aspect of her business, although on a smaller scale. The shop sells her original artwork, from jewelry made from scrap metal to prints of endangered species to sculptures made from recycled material. Waller also sells her own line of “Plushies” (stuffed animals and veggies) and a coloring book that is also a guide to Southwest Minneapolis, named after her dog Roxy.

But in order to stay afloat, Waller said she had to turn her attention toward sign making. Primarily geared toward small businesses, she paints menu signs, sidewalk signs and the graphics that go directly on windows.

Waller said times got tough in the last two years. She had to get a day job at a restaurant to keep the business alive, but that didn’t allow her to keep the store open much. Now she’ll be able to spend her days at the store and can continue to sell her artwork.

When she first opened Wasteland in 1989, the environmental movement was just taking off and interest was rising for her work. She named the store Wasteland in an effort to create a “Disneyland for the environmental movement.”

“Things have changed and it’s hard to do that kind of thing,” Waller said.

But she is excited to offer her talents in a new way.

“I’m reenergized with the new skill I have to offer,” she said.

You can contact Waller at 825-7977 or by e-mail at nancylynnwaller@yahoo.com.

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Nicollet & 35th intersection makeover takes another step with new salon

It’s an exciting time at the corner of Nicollet Avenue and 35th Street South. The corner will soon be home to used vinyl store Yeti Records and popular restaurateur Kim Bartmann recently announced plans to purchase and renovate Casey’s Bar and Grill.

The newest opening to the intersection comes from Erin Flavin. On Sept. 1 she opened Honeycomb Salon, 3504 Nicollet Ave., showing off a vintage remodeling of the space, which used to house The Clearance Rack.

Flavin and her husband, James Leonardo, moved to the neighborhood a few years ago and always had an eye on the intersection. When space became available, they had to jump, she said.

“(James) and I always looked at this corner as being an up and coming neighborhood,” Flavin said.

The couple was married just three weeks ago, so they were tasked with opening a salon and planning a wedding at the same time. Flavin said friends and clients lent a hand of support, even volunteering while Flavin was on her honeymoon to work on the salon’s wooden flooring.

Honeycomb offers a full range of hair services for men and women. For now, Flavin and Kimberly Carrier are the salon’s two stylists. But she said she is planning to hire a third stylist and also an aesthetician so she can offer skin care services.

While many salons can be intimidating places to visit, Flavin and her designers, Brett Smith and Erin Smith of SisBro Designs, said they’ve done all they can to make Honeycomb an inviting place.

Grooved wooden floors, hanging artwork and re-purposed salvaged furniture gives the place a bit of a 1950s feel.

“We wanted to give a warm, wooden feel to everything,” Brett Smith said.

The salon will also sell artwork on a rotating basis. This month’s artist is Eric Carlson of Minneapolis.

Flavin, who previously cut hair at Minneapolis salons Mezzanine and Jon Oulman, said she emphasizes organic hair products and avoids hard chemicals.

“I don’t want to work with so many chemicals,” she said. “So that what I’m working with doesn’t cause me harm and my customers harm.”

The salon offers haircuts starting at around $40 and colors for about $115. For an appointment, call 824-2662 or visit honeycombmpls.com.

The salon is holding a grand opening at 7 p.m. Oct. 2. It’s open to the public.

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Noted

The 50th and France Business and Professional Association is holding its annual Pumpkin Fest from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Oct. 30. The event will have plenty of kids activities, including trick-or-treating, a balloon artist, face painting, horse trolley rides and pin the face on the pumpkin. There will also be a costume parade and a prize for the best get-up. Pets are welcome.