Avid sports fans Derek Shewmon and Federico Campbell often found themselves watching games from the “nosebleed section,” far from the action. They wondered why so many great seats remained empty throughout the game. They were classmates pursuing MBAs at the Robert H. Smith School of Business when that simple observation turned into a business idea.
Back in 2010, Shewmon and Campbell cold-called Matt Monroe, assistant athletic director for ticketing services at the University of Maryland, pitching an app that would give fans the opportunity to purchase empty seats closer to the action at Terps basketball games after the game has started. Both Monroe and the university liked the concept, but the idea was a little ahead of its time, primarily because mobile devices were not as commonplace as they are today and Maryland had yet to move to electronic ticketing.
“We licked our wounds and waited for the technology to catch up with the idea,” said Shewmon said.
What a difference two years can make. Shewmon and Campbell revamped their idea based on feedback from Maryland and other teams, and successfully implemented LetsMoveDown for the University of Maryland’s 2012-2013 men’s basketball season.
“LetsMoveDown revolutionizes the fan experience by providing in-game seating upgrades and exclusive rewards directly to iOS- or Android-supported mobile devices. LetsMoveDown’s mobile app allows teams to sell leftover primary inventory and helps fans sell unusable tickets as in-game upgrades to other fans at the event after the game has started. LetsMoveDown drives additional revenue back to the home team, helps offset the cost associated with no-show seats and gives the fans at the game an unrivaled experience. Our app also offers fans exclusive in-game promotions, like coupons for concessions and merchandise to make sure that all fans have the best experience possible.
“LetsMoveDown focuses primarily on sporting events but is also applicable for any ticket-based event such as concerts and theaters.
“We’re currently one of the first to market in a growing space with a very strong product that has been tested and validated by our users. We partner directly with our teams to provide the LetsMoveDown ticket upgrade and couponing services to ensure that fans at the game have a seamless and incredible experience.
“We’ve currently had tremendous success with our initial launch at the University of Maryland and have confirmed that our product helps solve some real problems that the teams are facing as well as is a great benefit to the fans. This success will help get our foot in the door with other potential partners.
“We believe that we’re well positioned in a growing market and need to ensure that we grow fast enough to beat our start-up competitors as well as the established players in the field.
“How do we grow as quickly and sustainably as possible before the opportunity closes?”
Elana Fine, managing director, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
“Although the concept behind LetsMoveDown is straightforward, the sales process can be quite complex because you require buy-in and adoption from multiple constituencies before you can process one transaction at a new venue. To grow market share, you’ll need to figure out how to leverage user demand and customer data to convince the venues to take a risk on you quickly. Your ideal user is a season ticket holder at multiple venues, so I’d suggest gathering data on your ticket holders to use when selling new venues. For example, how many Terps fans also hold tickets at Verizon Center? Even if it is a small percentage, it will show an initial user base.
“Now that you have successfully sold to Comcast, identify what worked best with the current pilot and build your pipeline with venues that have similar characteristics. Weigh regional but larger venues such as Verizon Centers and FedEx Field vs. other universities and basketball programs. Getting students and loyal alums to download the app might be easier on a university campus than at a larger sporting venue.
Once you have a few pilots under your belt, you’ll need a strategy to grow more than one venue at a time. To accelerate distribution, partner with food or apparel vendors that benefit from the app and have contracts at multiple venues. These vendors also suffer from high no-show rates and might use their leverage to open some doors.”
“That’s great advice and a strategy that we will continue to implement as we expand. Our value proposition to our teams focuses on creative solutions to minimize the team’s risk while providing them with all of the benefits that LetsMoveDown gives their fans. The feedback and the success of our pilot launch at the University of Maryland have helped tremendously with our expansion efforts.”