Founders rally to ‘keep Death Valley solid orange’
Rejoice, thrifty sports fans: Greenville-based tech startup Bandwagon is on the move, this week attracting its lead angel and a commitment of $25,000 from investor Jason Premo during the final stages of the Founder Institute program.
“I said, ‘Let’s give them what they’re asking for, it’s not like they’re cutting any checks. That won’t happen,’” said Bandwagon founder and CEO Harold Hughes, who has been working on the startup for over a year with business partner Susan Donkers. “It was crazy. It was literally the last thing we would have ever expected.”
Founded in Greenville, Bandwagon is an online marketplace for sporting event tickets that lets fans choose who they sell to – a key difference when you don’t want to sell your ticket to the fan of the opposing team, said Hughes.
This weekend’s much-anticipated match between Clemson and Notre Dame, for example. Part of the home advantage is strong support from the crowd, and that advantage diminishes with every Clemson fan’s ticket sold to the rival team.
“It’s a big story about fans not selling to Notre Dame,” said Hughes, who said Bandwagon’s next step is to solidify traction and participation with the Clemson fan base.
After that, Hughes envisions other schools, sports and features – think game-day planning tools, fan content and other interactives – that help fans be more engaged overall.
“The fans are the center of our market, but we want to be more than tickets,” said Hughes, who said the site had more than 275 users and saw around $2,000 in sales since the beginning of September. Success for the Clemson-Notre Dame game is 500 new users.
“We tried to sell them on StubHub, but then we would be selling to opposing fans,” said Hughes. “What if you could control who actually got your ticket? You wouldn’t be selling it to a buddy, but you’re selling it to a fellow fan.”
Bandwagon’s Hughes and Donkers are part of Greenville’s four-month, 12-member Founder Institute class, which is a part of a national startup launch and entrepreneur training program. They were accepted into the program earlier this year, but have been working on the project much longer.
“Everything you look for in a great startup, they’re there,” he said. “They’ve done a great job being students in the institute. They’ve assembled a great team. They’ve got a great plan. They’ve already demonstrated some customer traction, and they’ve got a prototype product out there now.”
As lead angel, Premo aims to determine how much Bandwagon needs for their next steps, including building out the platform and growing its user base, among other things.
While the platform has the potential for nationwide applications, Hughes said the startup would remain based in the Southeast with its headquarters in Greenville.
“We’re really, really passionate about starting in the Southeast,” said Hughes, who said the region is not yet well known for tech startups in general. “We’d love to raise our entire round in the Southeast, showing we can not only be the Silicon Valley of the Foothills, but we can also raise the profile of the region.”