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What is the potential for tech in the sports ticketing industry?

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Photo credit:

Phil Roeder

Streamlining a circa $30 billion industry is no mean feat, but CEO of Gametime, Brad Griffith, is excited about the on-demand sports ticketing industry's potential to accelerate.

Brad Griffith, CEO of sports ticketing startup Gametime, found it, “personally devastating” when he was half an hour late to a baseball game and missed Tony Bennett singing the American national anthem.

It was due to a faulty printer which delayed the printing of his baseball ticket by around half an hour; it was, as Griffith describes, “an ordeal.”

However, in retrospect, Griffith has a lot to thank that printer for.

After understanding that the ticket-resale process was sluggish and wholly too reliant on different machines, Griffith – a former Google analyst and Stanford graduate – decided that the industry needed to regroup and improve its service.

“Gametime is the fastest and easiest way to get you in sporting events.”

Griffith has created a sports ticketing startup that allows you to buy tickets to any sports game via its app without printing tickets of any kind – it provides you with a bar code which stadiums scan and accept.

(“It’s great that the venues have accepted the technology which we have incorporated.”)

It’s quite a simple format, especially when you consider that the potential for this type of innovation in the ticket-resale industry is huge; Griffith plans to capitalize on an undervalued part of an estimated $5 billion dollar market.

Upon downloading the app there are, “4 characteristics or options available for you.”

There’s a high resolution photo view from the seat your ticket gets you, a curative infographic of all seats still available on the internet, a “very fast checkout service” and authorized barcodes.

“Everything before us was built for the web so you would get a list of 5,000 options you had to pick through and up to 9 steps to purchase the ticket and then you had to print…there was a lot of friction in that process which we’re trying to eliminate.”

The sports ticketing startup actually estimates this market to be valued more in the region of $30 billion and labels it “hyper-social” because sporting events are rarely done alone.

This is interesting from Gametime’s point of view because, despite its popularity, it has to do hardly any marketing: it has relied on word of mouth. Indeed 92% of June’s purchases were down to friend recommendations.

And those recommendations mean the sport ticketing startup is growing a lot faster than anticipated – which is a good problem to try and adapt to.

“The hiring situation can be difficult because the question becomes ‘Can you hire the best people for the right spots in the fastest time?’ because you want to keep up [momentum] without losing quality.”

The sports ticketing startup isn’t Griffiths first startup, adapting to change is something he’s used to.

“[Before Gametime] Zappedy was a platform allowing local businesses to market online essentially which was then sold to Groupon.”

However, doing another app means you can think about how to do the next one better.

“At Zappedy we changed direction a lot so we’ve had to become more focused, choosing the direction upfront and putting a lot of thought, and investing, in what direction we want to be travelling in.”

Consequently, Griffiths and his team are more confident in the sports ticketing startup’s trajectory and service.

For example, its customer base is mainly comprised of millennials rather than Gen X’s which they don’t see as surprising and rather than marketing the app to a different audience, the plan is to simply wait.

“We’re not actively searching for [Gen X], they’re actively searching for a solution like ours: we all now live on our mobiles and we migrate towards the easiest transaction process.”

There aren’t many industries where a CEO can be that confident; is having a sports ticketing startup a good position to find yourself in right now?

“I used to work math and analysis for two sports teams and I missed that when I was at Google; I love the industry and Gametime also gives me a chance to experience the speed of a startup which is super fun.”

Some things are true of every industry however, including certain trends.

“Migration to mobile is at the top of everyone’s minds and with that, the acceptance of the tech that goes with it is pretty exciting.”

Trends are one thing, but innovators and entrepreneurs aren’t known for playing sheep; Gametime may be primarily a sports ticketing startup for now but there are other avenues to consider in the future.

“I’m more fascinated by what else you can do once you’re at your event; how can we make the end-to-end experience that much better? Thats pretty fun.”