Avid sports fans Derek Shewmon, MBA ’09, and Federico Campbell, MBA ’09, had often found themselves watching games from the “nosebleed section,” and wondering why so many great seats remained empty throughout the game. They were classmates in Smith’s part-time MBA program in Washington in 2009 when that simple observation turned into a business idea.
The duo developed LetsMoveDown, a mobile app that lets fans purchase empty seats closer to the action at sporting events after the game has started. The app lets teams sell leftover tickets and helps fans sell unusable tickets as upgrades to other fans already attending the event. The app also offers fans exclusive in-game promotions, including coupons for concessions and merchandise.
Shewmon and Campbell turned to the Smith School’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship for help. “The Dingman Center was a great resource in helping us refine the idea and business model and tackle our challenges,” says Shewmon. Managing Director Elana Fine and entrepreneurs-in-residence Harry Geller and John LaPides were instrumental. Geller and LaPides helped connect Shewmon and Campbell to the right people in the university’s athletics department.
Shewmon and Campbell first pitched their idea to the Terps in 2010. Matt Monroe, UMD’s assistant athletic director for ticketing services, liked the concept. But the idea was a little ahead of its time, primarily because mobile devices weren’t as commonplace as they are today and Maryland had yet to incorporate an electronic ticketing platform.
“We licked our wounds and waited for the technology to catch up with the idea,” said Shewmon. What a difference a few years made.
Shewmon and Campbell incorporated technology advances and feedback from Monroe and others to successfully implement LetsMoveDown for Maryland’s 2012-2013 men’s basketball season.
By the end of the Terps’ season, LetsMoveDown was selling out its inventory of upgraded tickets. “The demand was definitely there from the fans, and we were able to refine our product and get some great fan feedback,” says Shewmon. “This year, we are excited to introduce some new features, expand our in-game offerings to make the game more fun for Terps fans, and get more premium tickets into the marketplace by working with UMD to make it easier for season ticket holders to post unusable tickets at game time.”
The success at UMD helped Shewmon and Campbell land a deal with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies for the 2012-2013 season. LetsMoveDown’s app will be in play at Terps football and basketball games this fall, and Shewmon says LetsMoveDown is in talks with several teams in the major professional and collegiate sports. They also plan to expand into the entertainment space.
“We’re definitely keeping busy,” says Shewmon. “Our pipeline is very strong and our team is growing. Our product continues to evolve. We’re one of those back-of-the-napkin-ideas-to-business stories and we’re excited to see how it ends.”
This story is featured in the fall edition of Smith Business magazine.