Why He’s Top 40: His vision involves using his talents, skills and passion in a way that benefits the arts community.
Key To Success: Pursuing a career path he enjoys while understanding the needs of those he aims to help.
Working in an office didn’t suit Cameron Gertz. But it wasn’t just the work itself; it was the fact that he was working for someone else. After university, he worked on repetitive clerical tasks for the federal government. But his limited role left him wanting a greater challenge.
He decided to start his own business with Chris Martyniuk, who he’d met while completing his poli-sci degree at the University of Alberta. In 2006, they opened a south side cafe named Hulbert’s that staged live music. Soon, Gertz’s role spanned everything from a general manager to promoter to “de facto dish washer and server.”
And while Gertz was busy with the challenges of running a business, he couldn’t help but notice the challenges faced by those around him. Bands performing at his cafe had to rely on listings in local publications that were rarely accurate (even Hulbert’s was listed in one paper for over a year after its 2009 closure). “I saw these talented people who could really use some extra people on their team,” he says.
From this desire to help artists, Gertz and Martyniuk formed an idea for their next business. The long-time friends came up with YEG Live, which began as an online directory for live music events. But they didn’t just print any information they were given, no questions asked. They verified it to be sure the listings were correct.
But the most ingenious feature was offering these venues and artists ticketing services with a low service charge, regardless of price. It’s win-win for the startup and the performers.
Gertz and Martyniuk also had the foresight to enable this e-ticketing service for smart phones, before smart phones were as ubiquitous as they are today, and added the website, etixnow.com, for out-of-Edmonton venues to get the YEG Live treatment. When the business started in 2009, it had zero clients. Now, it has sold tickets for over 1,500 events.
For Gertz, the new business is a way to meld his passions and knowledge of technology and the arts, while helping the community. “I enjoy going to see a good show, and I like it better when I know I’ve helped the people on stage get more money in their pockets.”