Last Thursday, a friend from out of town asked if I had a connection to get us and four friends tickets to the Knicks versus the Wizards basketball game for that night.
There’s options for that. I could have pulled up one of the common resale markets like StubHub or SeatGeek. I probably could have just gone to the arena considering the Knicks continue to be terrible. Instead, I went to Gametime.
In a matter of minutes, we had six tickets – and everyone already had them on their phones.
This is the use case that Gametime is trying to serve — social, last minute, and seamless.
“We’re the best last-minute tool for sports and shows and theater,” said Brad Griffith, Gametime founder and CEO. “Compared to the competition, we appeal mostly to a younger demographic who does more in life and wants to do more with friends. We really own this last-minute category in the ticketing industry.”
Surely, they aren’t the biggest ticket reseller and perhaps they never will be. But Colin Evans, Gametime’s chief revenue officer, who was also one of the founding members of StubHub, doesn’t see that ranking as an issue. Griffith, Evans, and their team based in San Francisco (with about 80 employees) are determined to own a new market.
“When you define a market, you can grow very quickly. StubHub defined the secondary market. We’re defining the last-minute market, and we’re growing faster than StuHub did while I was there,” Evans said. He worked for StubHub from 2000 to 2007 as VP of sales and business development.
Gametime’s growth numbers of the last year prove they have, at least, a good business going for now. The company had more than $50 million in sales in 2016 and also brought in record revenues in March. They sold more than 6,000 ticket for the Giants-A’s exhibition and had record sales for the LA Dodges and SF Giants home openers.
All of these numbers contribute to Gametime’s claim to be one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.
For Gametime users (myself included), the app is less about rushing to get tickets once they’re released at a certain hour or planning far ahead. Gametime’s slogan is “live life last minute,” and they want to help users find good experiences that just hours before a big event. For example, I bought tickets to Kanye West’s Life of Pablo tour at Madison Square Garden a day prior via Gametime.
“Gametime has mobilized the millennial fan, which is strategically important for teams and leagues to reach,” said Jeff Mallett, one of Gametime’s original investors and the former COO of Yahoo as well as a co-owner of the SF Giants. “The photography plus the simple and fast checkout flow really appeals to mobile-centric fans.”
Gametime is still iterating. This week, the app released a new feature that they believe will give the app another leg-up in the ticketing industry.
The feature is called Fan Views, and it’s kind of like Yelp or Foursquare meets ticketing. Users are encouraged to rate their experience. But unlike Yelp, it’s not about a bunch of text rants. Gametime wants your photos and quick summaries of what’s nearby.
“We’re big on photography,” Griffith said. “We’re trying to extend into that realm and give the fan as much information as humanly possible.”
StubHub offers a VR experience that’s meant to also demonstrate what someone’s seat view would look like. Gametime expands that notion by making it more of a social experience, all the while wanting to keep the same speed of the transaction.
The app will show nearest attractions, like a beer garden.
These reviews will eventually help for seat recommendation. The company believes it can help users make better seat decisions, and in the future, the data can be used to personalize what seats are recommended.
“We want to use that for personalization. Instead of going to dinner or going to the mall with you’re friends, you’re going to a concert that we’re able to identify to what they’re interested in,” Griffith said.
Personalization for events? That sounds a lot like Facebook. “I don’t fear Facebook eating us. They haven’t eaten a lot of e-commerce stuff in general. They’ve done a great job with advertising and they’re a great partner for us,” Evans said.
For Gametime, the biggest hurdle isn’t beating StubHub or Facebook. It’s letting people know about the company. Press coverage, like this piece, obviously help, but they’re also funneling more money into advertising this year.
Gametime is one of Snapchat’s beta partners, where they tested the app install product before it was largely released, for example. That’s been one of their best channels as well as Facebook ads. They also have a campaign planned for TV and for various audio channels to air in the coming months.
In 2017, the company is making a big consumer marketing push and looking to partner more closely with stadiums and artists in 2017.
“We’re becoming a lot closer with the venues themselves,” Griffith said. “We are actively putting in place the right relationships that would allow us to go after the venues specifically and partner with them.”