“I was the first person to bring U2 to Russia…”
That’s just one claim to fame of tech-savvy concert promoter Serge Grimaux – or, depending on your view of the Irish rock band, just one thing to blame him for.
You could say Serge Grimaux has always been in the music biz. The Canadian began dabbling in concert promotion as a teenager before ending up in Prague where, in 1992, he founded Ticketpro – Central and Eastern Europe’s first computerised-ticketing company. His latest venture is Intellitix, which produces smart wristbands for concertgoers. Four years on from starting that up in 2011, the 58-year-old’s innovative solutions have been adopted by some of the biggest events across the world, from Coachella to the Ryder Cup.
Work with the best “I used to promote bands such as the Rolling Stones and U2, and I even organised events for chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in the 90s. He was always highly intelligent, but he was outstanding during one meeting with the boss of a TV station in the Czech Republic. This boss used to host a weekly show where he would play a chess game with the audience, one move every week. He recreated the current game and asked Kasparov what the next move should be. Kasparov took one look at the board and deconstructed each side’s entire game move by move. He then told the TV boss that it was mathematically impossible for his rook to be where it was.”
Make the most of what you’ve got “I’ve always loved music, but when I was growing up there was no way I could afford to go to gigs. So, when I was 15, I started to organise my own. I thought, if I can’t pay for the tickets, I can put on the show and go for free. I sold T-shirts, worked as a runner, did whatever needed doing and ran the shows. Thankfully, people came and I was able to slowly turn it into a business.”
Attitude is everything “I’ve seen a lot of changes in my time – especially across Eastern Europe. I was the fi rst person to bring U2 to Russia. I’ve done a lot of things and have met a lot of people, but one thing I’ve learned is that when you go to a place for the first time or meet someone new, always walk in as if you are a student, not a teacher. There’s always something to learn in every situation.”
Make time your friend “There’s a reason why one-man companies don’t exist – you need other people to succeed. Don’t procrastinate. Make decisions and move on. It’s easy to overthink and overanalyse, but you only have so much time and there’s more to life than work. Talking of which, if your driver in business is just money, the excitement vanishes very quickly. You need to build something rewarding.”
Pick up the phone “I work across many time zones and I’ve seen how differently people view the world. Two English-speaking countries can get wildly different messages from the same language. I have lost count of the number of times where I‘ve had to intervene when people have misunderstood each other via email. I will kill our email server one day! I’m convinced that if there’s ever a World War III, it will be because of an email.”
Knowledge is everywhere “I was born in an era where knowledge came from older to younger people, but now the reverse is true. My daughter went to university in America in the mid 2000s and she told me about this new community thing on campus – it was called ‘The Facebook’. It struck me that I created communities with music festivals and that we are animals of community. The digital community is not a phase, it is the future.”
My business is like a pool party “Technology has entered every field of live events, from ticketing to music. But there was one place not touched by technology: how you get your food and drink. It was clear to me that the person to do this would succeed. When you go to a pool party, people pretend the pool isn’t there at first. Later on, either someone jumps or gets pushed in and soon the pool is full. It just takes one person to make the leap. I’ve been talking to people for a long time about Intellitix and no one wanted to jump in. Now, they’re all jumping in.”
This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: http://www.ink-live.com/emagazines/easyjet-inflight