In any industry, knowing your target audience and their specific needs are necessary not only to acquire business, but retain it over time. Sports are no different. While in more established markets fan loyalty does drive ticket sales, sports teams are seeing more and more issues from lack of fan engagement during games.
South Carolina-based Bandwagon wants to power up the fan experience by using data analytics and market insights to help sports organizations get to know their fans and provide a customizable experience.
Originally set up as a B2C model, CEO Harold Hughes founded the startup in 2014 as a marketplace for sports fans to protect home game advantage — a Stubhub for fans that wanted to sell tickets only to fans of their team. But as they began to grow, Hughes reached out to their customers directly to assess the viability of the idea. Users shared that they would also like to know who would be sitting near them when they bought their tickets — would they be near Facebook friends or family, for example.
That feedback triggered Hughes to pivot Bandwagon into a B2B model where fan identity and experience are prioritized and analytics on attendance and interests can help the team engage further and better with their fans. They are currently focusing on college teams, most recently signing a men’s basketball team from California.
The startup raised a $310,000 funding round earlier this year following the Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange for Black Founders program in Durham, NC. The round was co-led by the Black Angel Tech Fund and Atlanta-based Blue Vista Ventures and will leverage Bandwagon’s expansion into all schools in the ‘Power Five’ conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — for the 2017-18 football season.
Hughes shares more about his decision to pivot to B2B, what he learned during this past football season, and this best advice to grow as an entrepreneur.
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