Rich & Ben - The chaps behind Skiddle

We grabbed 5 this week with Skiddle.com’s co-founders and directors, Richard Dyer and Ben Sebborn

By Lee Isherwood | September 11th '13

If you haven’t heard of Skiddle.com then where have you been? Nowhere probably as they basically sell the tickets to where you should be going. The UK’s largest what’s on guide and one of the country’s leading primary ticket outlets. The site lists hundreds of thousands of events each year from gigs to clubs to festivals, you can book hotels, restaurants and read news & reviews about events and the music scene in general.

So to find out a bit more we grabbed 5 this week with Skiddle.com’s co-founders and directors, Richard Dyer and Ben Sebborn ahead of the freshers coming back to Manchester.

Skiddle-Interview

Skiddle is an amazing achievement, could you tell us a bit about how it got started? Rich: Skiddle started whilst we were studying, we scoured the internet for information but there weren’t any what’s on guides with the information we wanted, so we set one up. We always knew it could be something special and we made sure we laid the foundations at the beginning but ultimately there was a need for it and that’s how it started.

How did you both meet and what made you decide to partner with each other?
Rich: Ben was setting up a student development group and we started talking about that project, at the time I was working on Student Weekly and Ben got involved with that. Ben owned the domain Skiddle.com and eventually the Student Weekly project I’d been working on in Carlisle became Skiddle.
Ben: The student development group was a kind of collective of students who wanted to freelance on some website projects, I’ve no idea why Rich got in touch because he couldn’t build websites, however the Student Weekly project in Carlisle became the foundation for Skiddle and a lot of lessons had already been learned from that project.

Was it tough balancing that with being full-time students?
Ben: I was at UCLAN in Preston studying Computer Sciences when Skiddle started to take the shape it did. Being a student and interested in the subject I could clearly see how we could develop the type of platform that allowed event promoters to list their own events, which no one else was doing. At that time, before the web 2.0 explosion, and way before the social media revolution, it was pretty groundbreaking stuff. It came with its own challenges but it has stood us in good stead over the years.

Rich: I just thought I was going to be going out anyway so I might as well make the most of it! Seriously though, building up those relationships with event promoters and artists has been an amazing experience and over the years I’ve developed some long lasting and valued friendships.

How did you come up with the name Skiddle?
Ben: I can’t say there was any great inspiration for the brand Skiddle, we knew it needed to be something that was generic, that although we were originally targeting students it needed to be a brandable domain that would allow us to evolve the website in the future.

Skiddle has been an integral part of the Manchester Music scene for years, for anyone who hasn’t heard what is it you guys do, in a nutshell?

Rich: We’re a What’s on Guide that sells tickets, basically we make our money as a primary ticket outlet but building up the largest what’s on guide in the UK is what makes us different from the other ticket agencies.

Ben: Manchester has always been really important to us, for most of Skiddle’s existence Manchester has been our biggest market and Manchester is still the one city we are determined to be the most relevant to and be the dominant player in.

What is your favorite thing about Manchester?
Rich: Manchester is an amazing city, outside London it’s probably got the best music and events scene in the country. I live in Preston but when I want to go out for a big one, Manchester is the first place I think about.

What do you think about the current music scene in Manchester?

Rich: The current music scene is amazing, there’s so much on, every night of the week you can go and see a new band or a DJ. With the redevelopment of the Northern Quarter there’s even more to choose from. We all know the dance scene has been dominated by larger events in Manchester, which have their place, but it’s those small to medium sized nights that Manchester’s folk are really after week in week out.

Ben: There’s a few holes to fill in Manchester with the recent closures of some venues, such as Sankeys earlier this year. We believe this represents a great opportunity for new venues, as well as existing venues, to build up their reputation and to get more people through the doors. This trend is already nurturing new music in the city and Skiddle is proud to be at the forefront of this, supporting artists and making sure venues throughout Manchester are full every week of the month.

Skiddle’s rise to dominance over the events scene in the UK has been meteoric, how will Skiddle evolve in the next few years?
Rich: We’re still growing and we don’t think that will slow down anytime soon. We’re nationwide, each week we get more and more events added in different towns and cities and ultimately that’s what we’re all about, ensuring we offer the biggest selection of events in the UK and hopefully we’ll sell tickets for a good number of them!

Ben: Expect to see more innovation in the way Skiddle works and integrates with other platforms out there. Skiddle is rapidly becoming the go to, destination site for events in the UK and we want to keep putting solutions in place that will ensure people find Skiddle easy to use and full of the types of events they’re looking for.

If you could give any advice to freshers as they come back to Manchester what would it be?
Rich: Have the time of your life, for most of you it will happen only once so make the most of it.

Ben: We all know the job market’s tough at the moment and with more students graduating than ever before the nation’s students have got that bit more studious, but whatever you do, don’t forget university is much more than the lessons you learn in a lecture theatre. Enjoy every moment of it!

Nice one chaps!