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On Oct. 27 Torrey Smith found himself in St. Louis for a World Series game between the Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.
That’s a sports fan’s dream of course, but Smith was there to give away some prime seats.
“We bought some great tickets, and then, in the bottom of the fourth, we gave them up to these two guys,” he said.
Smith was using the trip – and what turned out to be a very memorable game – to promote his new business venture, JumpSeat.
Built as a smartphone application for iPhones, the app gives people the opportunity to take advantage of all those empty seats at games.
“You can upgrade your seat during the game,” Smith said. “This is something that nobody is doing right now.”
The idea came from Smith’s trip in February to Rupp Arena for a University of Kentucky basketball game.
“We were up in the top section, and you know how Rupp is, you get up near the top, and it’s pretty high,” he said. “It was a pretty good game, but people were getting up at halftime, and I noticed they weren’t coming back.”
That’s when it hit him. Why couldn’t you give that ticket to someone else for the rest of the game?
“Darby [Smith’s brother] told me, ‘You’ve had some pretty bad ideas, but this is the best one you’ve had,’” he said. “Then a little while later I had a guy come in my office, and he’s a software guy for apple and we start talking.”
And eight months later Smith is going to games for business.
The JumpSeat app creates a message board on which you can let other fans know you’re giving up your seats.
“At that point, you list your section and seat, and then the price is for you to work out, and then you can share instructions on how to meet each other,” Smith said.
The app is free to download and for the first use, but after that users will need to upgrade to the Pro version for $4.99. Smith said the company isn’t taking a cut of ticket sales, and that those trading seats don’t even have to charge other fans for the trade. Users can scan the inventory before a game and prearrange a trade at the event.
“It’s been interesting. I’ve created this animal, and now I have to be ready for it and help it grow,” he said.
Smith said the app is ready to roll for most college and professional sports.
“We’re adding hockey and racing events soon,” he said. “But we’re up and running in college football and basketball and professional football, basketball and baseball,” he said. “What we don’t have now is a lot of seat-givers. Because – let’s be honest – why do you want to give up your seat besides the fact that it’s the nice thing to do if you’re leaving or maybe you make a little money.”
So he has included a reward system that will give users access to other promotions.
“I have a relationship with SeatGeek.com, so we’re offering ten-dollar coupons from their site on a future game purchase,” he said. “We’ll continue to add things like that. We want to give people an incentive to use the app. Because, really it’ll pay for itself.”
Smith said he’s applied for a provisional patent on the program while he completes the full, 2-year patent program.
“You’re in the game, you have a seating chart right in front you, you can see where the empty seats are and judge them against your own,” he said.
Now, he will hit the tough road of promotions.
“We’re planning something for that game down the road in late December,” he said referencing the UK vs. Louisville basketball game on Dec. 28. “And we’re working to find some promo sponsors to get us out for more games, some companies we can work together with.”
And those two guys that scored the upgraded World Series tickets?
“Oh, it couldn’t have been a better two guys,” he said. “It was these two twins from Phoenix that have been going to one or two Cardinals games together for years. They got the upgrade during the game and just loved it.”