Fans like they’ve never had before. They sell experiences to everything from NFL games, College Sports and soon NASCAR. Fandeavor experiences include everything from inside access to pre-game practices, post-game press conferences, parties, stadium/arena tours, parking passes, premium tickets, meet & greets and even getting fans on the court/field before or during the game! I recently sat down with Tom Ellingson, Co-founder of Fandeavor to learn about how the company was started, how it operates, and what is in store for the future.
Tell us about yourself first. What is your history? Where did you go to school and work in the past?
My name is Tom Ellingson and I received a B.A. in Political Science from University of Washington. I previously worked as TV News Reporter/Anchor and at Zappos.com.
Who have been your business startup inspirations? Did you learn anything from them specifically?
I take a lot of inspiration from Fred Mossler and Tony Hsieh from Zappos. While not in the same industry, we take many valuable lessons from them and the history of Zappos.
What was your inspiration to start your company?
We’re big sports fans for one. As in-home technology gets better, it”s getting easier and easier to watch a game from your couch. We want to make sure people have unique experiences, memories of things they can’t do while watching from their living room.
Tell us how your company started and when. Who was involved and what did each person do?
We launched our first experiences in November 2011. We sold “Super Fan” experiences to UNLV basketball games. Dean Curtis built the website and Tom Ellingson managed the partnerships and marketing.
Tell us an interesting story about your business. Were there any “wow” moments? Anything funny or unusual?
There have been many “wow” moments, but one that stands out is from one of our first events. We sold “Super Fan” experiences to a Real Madrid match in Vegas. The experience included food and drinks in a VIP tent and the ability for the fans to watch the game from the field. We didn’t plan it, but one of the customers got meet and chat with many of the players while standing on the edge of the field during warmups. He was a grown man who was so happy he could cry. We knew we were on to something.
What is your role in the company now?
Managing partnerships with teams and leagues, while trying to expand our overall offerings.
What does your company sell and how does it make money?
We sell fan experiences to sporting events. We make money every time an experiences sells. We split the revenue with the team.
Which companies do you consider to be competitors?
LivingSocial has started to sell packages to Live Events. There are many other sports travel providers who are trying to get their hands on VIP Experiences.
What makes your products and services better than competitors’ offerings?
We focus on the truly once in a lifetime type experiences.
Are you planning an IPO? If so, when? How are you raising capital?
We raised a round of funding in June of 2012
Where do you see the company in five years in terms of revenue and profitability?
We hope to have unique fan experiences for all sports and teams, both in the states and abroad
What forms of marketing do you use to attract clients?
Our partners (the teams) help us promote via their email, FB, Twitter. We also do some FB and Google ads
How big is the company in terms of its workforce?
10 total… 3 full time in Las Vegas
What are the biggest growth catalysts (new technology, new offerings, etc.) for you right now? Tell us about any patents or other IP.
We’re working on some pretty big partnerships that will help us ad scale very quickly
Do you have any advice for other Entrepreneurs?
Get started today! Don’t wait until your website/product is perfect. What you’re working on today will change so many times, it’s best to launch early and start learning from your customers/users.