Gametime raises $20M to own the last minute ticket market

Gametime is mobile-only, and allows its users to buy tickets to events at the very last minute

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
September 21, 2016
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4754

If there's one thing that defines the Millennial generation (which I guess I am a part of) it's that we want thing when we want them. We apparently don't really like to plan ahead much, and as soon as we realize we need something, we want it at our fingertips right away. 

That has led to the rise of the on-demand economy, which has reached spaces as varied as the hotel space, auto repair, grocery delivery, and even cannabis

It has even spread to buying tickets, and mobile-first  last-minute ticketing app Gametime is taking advantage of this shift.

The company announced on Wednesday that it has raised $20 million in Series B funding. The round included returning investors Accel, Gametime board chairman Jeff Mallett and LA2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman as well as new investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), Evolution Media Partners and the Stanford StartX Fund.

This new round brings the company's total capital raised to $33 million.

Gametime was founded in 2013, and the original idea was to bring ticketing to mobile, co-founder Colin Evans told me. Evans was also a co-founder of StubHub.

"With StubHub it was a shift from buying offline to online, but Gametime was the shift from online to mobile. People were increasingly starting their search on a mobile device, and completing the transaction on a mobile device, so were initially built the company to solve that problem," he said.

The app made it easier to find tickets on a mobile device by curating them, presenting every ticket as a view from a seat, and delivering every purchase in an electronic format, so that the buyer could easily access the barcode and enter any venue right away. 

However, the company realized there was an even bigger shift happening in terms of not just how users were purchasing, but when. 

"What's happened since is that Millennials have become the largest purchasing demographic, and that has caused all sorts of shifts. StubHub was about accessing an event three or four weeks out, but now there are significant changes around purchasing, and people are waiting until the last minute," Evans said. 

"There have been three waves in ticketing over the last 30 to 40 years. First was on-sale, and that was more traditional companies, like TicketMaster and Ticketfly, selling tickets when events go on sale. The next was was from when they go on sale to a week before, which Stubhub has owned. That's the vibrant resale marketplace. The third is the emergence of the seven day prior. We're trying to build on top of TicketMaster and Ticketfly and those primaries, who have excess inventory. We have the profile of the buyers looking to buy those tickets."

Since Gametime was built exclusively for mobile (it doesn't even have any kind of Web presence), it was able to take advantage of that change. Currently, over 80 percent of the  tickets bought on Gametime are within a week before the event, and over half are bought same day. A full 10 percent of event day transactions happen after the event has already started. 

Gametime currently provides access to more than 1,400 sports and events including major professional leagues, collegiate sports and live music. Its app has been downloaded more than 3 million times. 

While there's plenty of competition in the ticketing space, including StubHub, Ticketmaster, Scorebig, Seatgeek and Ticketfly, it's Gametime's focus on that emerging last minute ticketbuying market that sets it apart, according to Evans, and that is what will help it stay ahead, even as those other services increasingly rely on mobile as well.

"Our mobile focus was at the inception. Pretty much everybody has some kind of mobile presence, but we are differentiated in that we focus around the last minute ticket," he said. "It's a different kind of buyer. They may know four or five friends, but they don't know kind of event they want to go to. It's all about discovery, and showing them the events going on tonight in their city."

Expanding on its mobile capabilities, Gametime has also built a social component, launching Connect in June, which allows users to see upcoming games and shows that their friends will be attending via Gametime. Users can select “Join Friend” and will be directed to the closest seats available to where their friend is sitting.

Connect also displays friends that are selling tickets for upcoming events with personalized messaging describing the experience at those seat locations. Users have to sign in with Facebook to discover friends’ planned activities within the stream.

The company plans to use the new money to build out its team. It currently has 70 employees, and will add 20 to 40 more next year, specifically in product engineers and designers to help innovate the app.

"This raise is the result of the traction we’ve had. Since we were initially all mobile features, that drove our position as the company that owns that last minute segment. Investors saw that and are buying into the idea that purchasing patterns for Millennials are shifting," said Evans.

"We are the only company built on mobile from the ground up. We have a different take on how to sell, how to refresh the app, and other features that are geared toward that mobile use case."

The company's long term vision is to own that last minute market, and, in the future, it will become better at curating tickets specific to each user, based on what they've bought before and the preferences listed on Gametime.

"The consumer mindset has become, 'I want to do something tonight, tomorrow or this weekend, and I want to start search now.' No one has owned that, and that’s what I want to do," said Evans. "We are in the position of answering the question: 'What do you want to do right now?'"