Russ D’Souza and Jack Groetzinger left easy-breezy jobs doing management consulting back in 2008. They’d known each other since 2003, both attending Dartmouth College and running a furniture rental business together. Meeting daily in a Boston coffee shop and committing to get a startup plan initiated. They saw that Microsoft had bought a small airline ticket forecasting website for $115 million dollars and they said “We could do that, but for sports”. Thus the fast growing ecommerce startup SeatGeek was born.
SeatGeek consolidates tickets for Broadway shows, concerts, and sporting events from professional brokers, scalpers, and fans. Their site made $155 million in ticket sales last year. In a $5 billion-plus secondary ticket market, that’s nothing, but they are tripling their total transaction value and doubling the annual revenue. They only charge an 8% commission on sales from their enlisted secondary ticket providers. So SeatGeek’s “Deal Score” algorithm and interactive stadium seating charts, letting their customers know whether they are actually getting a deal or not, whereas other similar companies keep it vague.
They wouldn’t have been able to grow quite as fast either if it wasn’t for their immersion into the mobile shopping explosion. This got them the attention they needed to get a $35 million dollar injection of venture funding last August. Ecommerce is overtaking social media on smart phones and they have made it a breeze to buy. Almost half of their sales is mobile and those customers appear more loyal than desktop users says D’Souza.
They are looking to hire dozens of Android and IPhone developers to get their company up to 100 employees from the current 51. John Locke of Accel Partners, who led SeatGeek’s latest $35 million funding round “By going mobile-first, SeatGeek can out-innovate StubHub and Ticketmaster.” StubHub used to list on SeatGeek but they pulled their listings. Despite StubHub’s departure, SeatGeek’s sales volume rose from $18 million in October to $25 million in December (and $49 million in the first half of 2014 vs. $106 million in the second half).
D’Souza envisions a world where all tickets transfer automatically through the SeatGeek app. “There shouldn’t be this gray area about where my tickets are,” he says. “The future is, you buy a set of tickets, it immediately shows up on your phone, and you scan that into the gate.” Well folks if this doesn’t make you want to send them a resume, I don’t know what will. A ticket-centric tech savvy organization with good seats to all the sporting events. Send em’ if you got em’.