CrowdSeats is a Los Angeles based start-up that has combined the last minute deal and daily deal models to offer 50-90% off on sporting events. Launching in August of last year, they have recently expanded to Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas. Below, is an interview I had with Co-Founder Justin Cener about Crowdseats business model and how they are changing the way sporting inventory is sold.
When Did CrowdSeats begin?
The development process was from May to August of 2011. I am huge sports fan and I had been following the whole daily deal model knowing that a lot of sports team had inventory that was going unsold. I figured it was a perfect combination of last-minute ticket sales that companies offer combined with the daily deal model. We launched in August of last year in Los Angeles, expanded to New York and this April we entered into four more markets.
Yeah, I’m in Dallas. I just got one of those emails?
Yeah we just added Dallas about a month ago, so we will be offering deals to go see the Texas Rangers for the rest of the summer.
Do yo have a locals sales team helping you?
“Our founding team is our sales force – we’ve connected with most professional teams in North America to work out some last-minute deals with their ticket inventory. We also work with ticket exchanges which puts us in contact with some of the largest ticket brokers in the country. So we get our inventory from a combination of teams and brokers.
What type of deals are you offering?
We try to curate a good game each week. No nose bleeds or crappy sections. We try to give our customers a good game that gonna give you he best bang for your buck, which means a great view and a great deal in terms of pricing. Last Friday we did a Nicks VS Heats Playoff game and tonight were doing the Chicago Bulls Vs The 76’ers. Obviously we do a lot of baseball games so we try to get rivalries with a lot of history and division match ups. It’s been a great experience so far because people love being able to watch live sports at a reasonable price.
Do you plan on getting into concerts in the future?
Yes, but we do think that’s gonna come up a little later on down the line. For now we will be focusing on sports for the next 9 to 12 months. I think that will be an easy transition once we have the user base for sports it will transfer well into other events like concerts, golf, bowling and other participation sports.
How has the customer response been so far?
The response has been exclusively positive, because they have been able to attend more sporting events without having to pay a fortune. We have gotten a lot of feedback from families. Just last week, I received an email from a family of six thanking us because otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to afford the game without Crowdseats.Teams love it as well because it’s giving them the opportunity to generate revenue on perishable inventory.
How early in advance to you send out the deals?
‘On average it’s about 7 to 10 days before the event. In some cases it’s absolutely last-minute like the Bulls deal which we just sent out a few hours ago and the game is tonight! So, it kind of varies depending on our partner.
What are some specific challenges that you have faced since launching?
I think it’s just getting the word out. It’s a concept that all sports fans embrace once they hear about it but it’s making a large amount of them aware that we actually exist.
How do major daily deal companies like Groupon or Living Social affect the way you do business?
The biggest difference between us and a company like Groupon you have to deal with getting offers for stuff like restaurants, massages and skydiving. It’s really un-targeted, but if you are a sports fanatic and you sign up for Crowdseats you know you’re gonna get sports offer every time.