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NMotion’s Turnstile Cards team releases app for Lincoln Saltdogs

Lincoln Saltdogs appAn idea that began at a Startup Weekend in Cedar Rapids and is evolving through the NMotion accelerator came to fruition this week.

Turnstile Cards set out to create digital collectible cards for sports teams, and this week, released its first app, a prototype for minor league baseball team Lincoln’s Saltdogs.

The app incorporates the original idea of digital baseball cards, but also helps make the game experience more fan-friendly with info about upcoming game promotions, fun activities at the ballpark, exclusive deals and the ability to buy tickets.

On the flip side, the app will give the Saltdog’s marketing team valuable data on consumer habits. And through push notifications, in-stadium deals and more, the app aims to get more butts in the seats.

Co-founder Jason Kristufek said the app is in its early stages with limited functionality, but he is happy to get a product out there for both teams and fans to test.

Although the Saltdogs’ season ends in a few weeks, the small amount of time is valuable. Kristufek is relying on lean principles—trying to identify, test, fail and improve quickly—to make the product better.

“We’re taking this small set of data and taking it to the next team,” Kristufek told SPN. “It gives us data to experiment with and building into the future.

“It’s good to have a customer and a first iteration to improve upon.”

Turnstile Cards’ goal is to give information and deals to fans and to help the teams better understand fans’ behavior.

Kristufek said he’s aiming to primarily help second tier teams—minor league teams, developmental leagues and other smaller sports—but the majority of those fans are the occasional or casual fans, not the rabid kind that follow a pro team like a religion. Typically it’s these teams that have the most unsold tickets available.

“They are parents of families that go to a game to have fun and we hope to maximize their level of fun while they are there with promotions, deals and things they might not otherwise know about, like play areas or firework nights,” Kristufek said.

It’s a change in focus for a team that first came together in March at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids. They started out creating digital trading cards for players. And they’re still doing that by creating a commemorative card for a special moment, like last night’s walk-off home run, but they also aim to bring more value to small market teams.

“The three key metrics we came up with talking to teams were if fans would use the app, what they will use in it and how do they respond to targeted push notifications,” he said. “It’s the first foray into where we want to go for loyalty for certain interactions.”

In April, Turnstile Cards was accepted to NMotion, and just last week, co-founder Zach Sanderson left the project and returned to Iowa to pursue other opportunities, the Cedar Rapids’ Gazette’s We Create Here reported.

And there may be even more changes before NMotion’s Demo Day, Sept. 9. Kristufek says he is looking at dozens more sports teams to work with as the year progresses into hockey, football and basketball seasons.

“What solution and what business name is announced on demo day will reflect what the company has learned that also puts it in the best possible position for future success,” he told We Create Here.

Four things Jason Kristufek has learned at NMotion

  1. The value of customer development. “It’s a constant learning process. Learn, test, iterate quickly.”
  2. Working your tail off to get as much traction as you can. “You need to find your key performance indicators and get clients to try something, gather data so you can do the next thing smarter.”
  3. Crafting the story of your startup. “You need to learn to communicate what you’re doing in a good way. You also need to speak to your key value propositions while crafting your story in a human way.”
  4. Access to a network is important. “People in Lincoln have been so willing to help and talk and give ideas. They will point you in directions, make you think through things and be direct with you. That’s good. That has been a great factor of being in an accelerator in this community. People are willing to help and give you feedback. Same goes for the Cedar Rapids community. It’s the Midwest mentality.”