Fanstreamm helps minor league teams know their customers—and sell more tickets

This time last year, Fanstreamm won Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids and was about three weeks into Lincoln’s NMotion startup accelerator – with a different name and a different concept. It’s been “a whirlwind of a year,” said founder Jason Kristufek. Back then, Turnstile Cards was a mobile marketing platform based on the initial assumption that country’s…

fanstreamm2
fanstreamm2

Photo Credit: Zach Sanderson

This time last year, Fanstreamm won Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids and was about three weeks into Lincoln’s NMotion startup accelerator – with a different name and a different concept.

It’s been “a whirlwind of a year,” said founder Jason Kristufek.

Back then, Turnstile Cards was a mobile marketing platform based on the initial assumption that country’s 620 minor-league and amateur sports teams needed to connect with fans on a mobile device to move the needle on an average 43% unsold tickets.

“It’s still a valid problem,” Kristufek said, “it’s just that at the time, our timing wasn’t right and our price wasn’t right.”

So he thought harder about the underlying problem: these teams don’t know a lot about their fan base. That’s because, below the pro level, fans are usually more casual than die-hard.

“[Teams] have this need to create a connection with the fans that goes beyond just the team and the players,” Kristufek said. “It’s not necessarily about sports. It’s about being an entertainment destination where you go with family, you go with friends.”

If the teams knew more about the people in the seats, they could market to them more effectively.

A pivot to group sales and data

Kristufek also thought back to what he had heard in customer development interviews, again and again: “The vast majority of general managers and ticket managers I talked to said the best way for them to get more revenue is through group sales.”

So Fanstreamm pivoted to focus on a web-based group sales platform that would allow teams to “leverage data to create sustainable relationships with ticketholders.” In other words, they help teams collect data on each person in a group so they can target them with marketing efforts and convert casual spectators into repeat fans.

Selling first with mockups

The first version launched about 10 weeks ago. Since then, Kristufek has been spending time with Fanstreamm’s 33 initial customers (mostly minor-league baseball teams), making sure they are happy and collecting feedback to fuel future software development.

So far, the company’s revenue totals more than $200,000, mostly from pre-sales of the group sales platform. Kristufek said it was difficult to sell with mocked-up screenshots, it helped to be transparent about it.

“It takes longer, it’s slower, and sometimes it’s more frustrating because you don’t actually have something that’s working to show them,” Kristufek said. “I wasn’t a sales person before this, necessarily, but had to learn that skill set.”

Ultimately, he said, those early sales helped prove there is an underlying need.

Expanding the client base

For the next 60 days, Kristufek plans to continue focusing on the initial customers, then gear up for the hockey sales cycle. By fall, he plans to release a second version, build a bigger team, and expand Fanstreamm’s client base faster.

On the horizon are college teams and entertainment and concert venues, many of which sell tickets briskly, but still lack the data Fanstreamm can provide.

At this point, Kristufek’s advice to early-stage entrepreneurs is to persevere.

“Make sure that at least in your mind, you are doing the right things at the right time,” he said. “Be passionate about solving the problem, don’t get tied down to one solution” – or one name.

Patti Vannoy is a partner with Mattson Ricketts Law Firm in Lincoln, Nebraska, and a supporter of the local startup community. Before practicing law, she was a reporter and editor for local and regional newspapers.

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