Venture hosts Atom Tickets co-founder Matthew Bakal

Ava Fattahi

Harvard-Westlake (HW) Venture hosted guest speaker Matthew Bakal, co-founder of Atom Tickets, for an entrepreneurship presentation explaining how he started Atom Tickets and how students can get involved in the business world along with a Q&A session Jan. 7. 

Bakal graduated from Harvard College with a BA in English and American Literature and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Before founding Atom Tickets, he worked in the film industry as a business coordinator at Disney and Warner Brothers and later became head of corporate development at Lionsgate.  

Bakal lives in Los Angeles and founded Atom Tickets in Santa Monica

Venture is the school’s entrepreneurial direct studies course in which students brainstorm ideas for products, learn about marketing and investing and work in groups to synthesize a problem statement and develop a solution for it. Venture Speaker Event Head Sophia Rascoff ’23 said she enjoyed listening to Bakal and felt that it was important for guests to learn about the movie business during the time of a global pandemic.

“Atom Tickets is a great example of a company that was hit pretty hard by the pandemic but is working hard to bounce back as theaters start to open,” Rascoff said. “It proved to be an informative and engaging event.”

Bakal is a ticket-buying app used mostly by younger moviegoers

Atom Tickets is a ticket-buying app that allows buyers to pre-order tickets, get early previews for upcoming films and coordinate seats with friends. The company was created when Matthew faced a problem with the ticket-buying process and wanted to make it easier for himself and others.

“One day I was trying to go to a movie with my wife and some friends when we struggled to coordinate our seats, the movie and our meeting place over text,” Bakal said. “If we didn’t love movies so much we would have given up on this plan but decided to tackle the problem with our own solution. We found a co-founder and our company eventually came from a three-person group at the Lionsgate broom closet and has now grown to be about 100 people and wound up being on the Inc. 500 list of the top 3% of the fastest-growing companies in the world in 2019.”

Bakal attributes a large portion of the company’s success to its marketing strategy and focus on millennials and Generation Z

“Before entering the market we had to think about how we could introduce consumers, especially younger generations who have been going to movie theaters less often with the rise of streaming services, to the table and collaborate with movie theaters and studios,” Bakal said. “We started marketing only on Snapchat, Facebook and Google to get the word out to young folks who use those platforms frequently. I’m proud to say that we are now partnered with 105 theater chains, have people like Dwayne ‘The Rock’  Johnson, Steven Spielberg and Tyler Perry on our advisory board and have direct partnerships with Disney and Lionsgate.”

Hope Hsieh ’23 is a Venture student and was interested in learning about Bakal’s experience as both of her parents are involved in the film industry as well.

“I didn’t know about his company before I was told he was coming to speak so I read up about it and found the concept as a whole—revamping the ticketing experience and, as he touched on during the Q and A, the general movie experience— interesting,” Hsieh said. “I think the appeal of Matt’s company targeting our age demographic really made the event tangible and relatable.”