When Jonathan Krane arrived in Beijing 18 months ago to look for investment opportunities, he had no particular business in mind other than to exploit his software and technology background. 'When I arrived, it was an exploratory trip. China has a large population for which software can create efficiency. I wanted to find an industry where we could bring in technology that could immediately benefit many people,' Mr Krane said. So when a music executive suggested the nascent entertainment industry, it did not take Mr Krane long to see the strong possibilities in ticketing and for using software to bring order to what he said was a highly fragmented market. Mr Krane began making trips to China every month, doing research and making contacts. In June, he established the headquarters for Emma Entertainment Holdings, in Beijing, with offices in New York and Hong Kong, providing services from promotion and production to ticketing and equipment rental. Emma then teamed up with big- name partners in China. Emma Ticket was formed through a partnership with media giant Beijing Youth Daily, which has an extensive call-centre network and an army of bicycle delivery men known as xiaohongmao, or Little Red Hats. On the entertainment side, Emma hooked up with Poly Culture & Art, the mainland's leading entertainment promoter and a subsidiary of the state-run Poly Group. The heart of the company is its proprietary online ticketing software that Mr Krane said was customised for the China market. The system had to be developed to handle both Chinese characters, which use two bytes per character, and English. The ticketing system runs off a central database that allows consumers to buy a ticket online or via ticketing outlets using the company's technology. Tickets can also be bought through the system anywhere in the world, with delivery overseas by mail or picked up at the box office in China. English-speaking promoters can use the real-time technology to study ticket sale trends and make changes to their promotional strategy. 'Every second you know how you're doing in sales.' Emma's technology is also focused on customer data collection that will help it plan strategies for future events, from choosing ticket prices to selecting venues. The company is also taking on counterfeiters, providing technology to produce tickets with bar codes, holograms and embedded data. A month after setting up in China, Mr Krane brought Whitney Houston to Beijing, followed by the Back Street Boys last month. He said ticket sales for the China Tennis Open were 'well into the seven figures', and for the Back Street Boys 'in the high six figures'. Emma Ticket has entered into a five-year exclusive rights agreement with Tom Group to be the official ticketing company for the China Open, which began for the first time last month, and it has been given the rights to handle ticketing for a series of entertainment programmes that will take place in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics. In the coming year, the company hopes to bring concerts, sporting events, Broadway plays and other family entertainment to the China market. Despite using state-of-the-art ticketing technology, Emma said 50 per cent of ticket purchases were done through call centres, 30 per cent through ticketing outlets, and just 5 per cent over the internet. The remainder were sold at the box office. 'On the ticketing side, it's a cash-driven society and almost 100 per cent of our sales have been cash. In China, there's virtually no internet buying. If done through the internet, it's an e-mail that's sent as a ticket order to the call centre,' Mr Krane said. Tickets are then delivered within four hours by Little Red Hats, who collect the payments. Emma is also ready for greater credit card adoption. 'We have the technology in position for when the credit card and internet buying wave comes to China,' Mr Krane said. 'Experts say that alternative payment methods to hard currency are starting to happen now, and in two years I think we'll see a significant increase.'