Startup of the Month: SeatSync

by Amina Elahi
March 6, 2013

Built In Chicago and Marengo Hampshire Partners would like to congratulate March's Startup of the Month: SeatSync! This mobile, peer-to-peer company takes the guesswork out of buying and selling tickets.

[ibimage==22762==Large==none==self==ibimage_align-center]If you’ve ever successfully bought or sold anything on Craigslist, count yourself among the lucky. Across the many sell-it-yourself sites out there, purchasing event tickets has become a difficult task, with users struggling to find reasonably priced options to be bought from real people.

SeatSync, a mobile Android and iOS application, allows users to buy or sell sports or music tickets by setting up in-person exchanges at a low fee – eliminating the need for brokers. “SeatSync allows fans to find other nearby fans that are buying or selling tickets, and then walks them through the meet-up and purchase process,” says co-founder Graham Thornton. “The app is rooted in an easy-to-use interface with features including location-based search, in-app chat, and user ratings.”

The company’s five co-founders cover a variety of functions, including growth strategy, operational issues, product development, software engineering, and user experience. Three of the five – Thornton (growth strategy), Michael Wilson (software engineer) and and Ryan Sneddon (user experience) – are based in Chicago.

We caught up with Thornton to learn more about his company, the challenges they face and their goals for the future.

Why do consumers need SeatSync?
The current secondary ticket market offers fans two primary types of options. First are expensive services like StubHub and TicketMaster, which routinely charge up to 25% of a transaction in service fees and shut down hours before an event starts. Additionally, fans pay delivery charges even though tickets are frequently sent to buyers within a short distance of the seller’s location. The second option is a service like Craigslist: even though it is free, it is an inefficient way to buy and sell tickets. It uses very little technology to guide the process, thereby requiring that fans put in a lot of effort to buy or sell tickets.

Why does the ticketing industry need SeatSync?
The secondary ticket market is huge --- estimated at $15 billion in sales per year --- but there has been little progress to improving the fan experience.

As startups like Airbnb prove, consumers gravitate toward solutions that connect people with each other. The ticket industry has lacked this option for years: prior to SeatSync, the only option to connect fans with each other was Craigslist. Our solution closes the gap in this inherently local market by using using a smart, mobile platform to connect fans.

How has being based in Chicago affected SeatSync?
Chicago is a great city for us to grow SeatSync: we launched here, and will continue to focus our initial growth efforts here. Aside from our personal Chicago roots, Chicago has an amazing startup scene, with opportunities for exposure through pitch events like Built in Chicago launch and Technori Pitch. Combine that with Chicago’s passionate sports community and active music scene, being based in Chicago gives us a perfect opportunity to start disrupting this industry in a place we call home.

What is the greatest challenge your company faces?
SeatSync will only be successful if we are able to serve both sides of the ticket resale market --- both buyers and sellers of tickets --- so our greatest challenge will be simultaneously building both sets of users.

In addition to user growth, our focus over the next few months will be on improving the overall user experience, which is a major determinant of whether our first users keep using the app.

What is the greatest success you have achieved so far?
We are proud that we launched two mobile apps from an entirely bootstrapped enterprise. Having an idea is one thing, but being able to take an idea from concept to a functional product is exciting. We are seeing new tickets listed every day, and our user base continues to grow.

What are your goals for the rest of 2013?
Primarily, our goal is to grow our share of the secondary ticket market in Chicago. We also began to pursue funding as of the end of January, which we started only after SeatSync was functional and officially launched. While we are still early in the process, one of our main goals for 2013 is to secure funding.

Objectives in support of those goals are to increase app features and secure funding to help promote and grow the business. We also look forward to meeting with more potential users, mentors, and advisors in the upcoming year.

[video:http://youtu.be/NKVKzBMVN_k]

Visit SeatSync’s website, check out their BIC profile, and follow them on Twitter at @seatsync.

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