19 Oct Capital Factory Spotlight: Blockparty
As our community continues to grow, Launch DFW is on an ongoing mission to introduce you to some of the region’s incredible startups. We’ve partnered with Capital Factory, a tech hub and accelerator new to Dallas that also offers coworking, to spotlight a few of the Dallas-based entrepreneurs that call CF home.
Legally founded in 2014. Officially launched in 2015
Adam Ward, Steve Gilman
At the time Blockparty was a much smaller mission, to make live events easier on people. We saw Blockparty Suite as a product that could be deployed easily and within minutes in order to provide a turnkey experience at music festivals, sporting events, etc. Our mission has now evolved into the creation of fan communities. We are basically developing large plots of land, using our suites and other forms of infrastructure to develop various landscapes around and inside stadiums, arenas, and venues to bring people together; to get them off the couch and experiencing live events, well, live.
Blockparty creates immersive experiences that make events unforgettable for the fans. We do this by creating mobile communities in imaginative and adaptive spaces, all with the hospitality of a five-star hotel. We’re not your average tailgate service. We’re a unique and highly adaptable brand that takes the standard fan experience to the next level with thoughtful and inspired details. We don’t just dole out the typical tailgating package, we always ask ourselves how to make each experience truly unforgettable for the fans, and how to create lasting memories.
Our custom turnkey spaces and commitment to making sure every detail is taken care of from stem to stern means you can count on a flawlessly executed experience fans will be talking and posting about for weeks to come.
What was the inspiration to start Blockparty?
I grew up and still am an avid music festival goer and tailgater. I like going to a lot of events. I watch sports and music on TV. All the major festivals are now broadcasted on TV for the most part, and obviously, sports are more abundant. There are approximately eight channels devoted to sports now, football in particular. There’s not a lack of content to watch at home. I just prefer things live. Ultimately, what I realized was to enjoy those events the way I want to enjoy them, the way a lot of other fans I saw wanted to enjoy them, which is in many cases having the comforts of home, you had to do yourself. In some cases, you just couldn’t do it at all, because you weren’t allowed to bring in a lot of those items to the venue. And so ultimately, I set out, along with the help of my cofounder, to build the experience I wanted, which was bringing the comfort of home to a live event. And that’s what we’ve done with Blockparty.
What services do you provide?
Our business model is simple. We basically partner with a venue, sports team or athletic program to create a space. We develop the space, whether it be inside the venue, on a rooftop, a courtyard, a field, or whatever space may be in and around the venue.
Then we build out a fan community. The fan community can consist of rows upon rows of tents that are built out of custom packages. For football teams, we are essentially building out tailgating communities. We take a plot of land, much like a developer would take a plot of land in a city and would curate a residential neighborhood. You have your really large homes on one end of the neighborhood, then you have your smaller homes on the inside. And then you have townhomes. In some cases, you’ve got a community center. You’ve got different shared elements while also having these private elements in the development. That’s how we look at developing fan communities at sports and music venues.
As we build out various spaces of sizes, whether it be a massive custom space, or a brand for a large group like an alumni association, or a much smaller space for a small company or for a family. And so we’re busy developing land space on game day or on the day of an event, in the case of a music festival, for fans to enjoy. They show up and enjoy the community of their fellow fans as opposed to having to worry about the stress and building out the space themselves.
What innovation does Blockparty offer businesses?
We’ve been very innovative in a number of areas. Some are probably not as glamorous as you’d see at a traditional Silicon Valley company. We were the first company where you can order your tailgate online. I think Josh with Capital Factory had a quote “Blockparty makes organizing a tailgate as easy as ordering a pizza.” It’s true. You can go on our website and within three clicks, you have your tailgate purchased and you, your family, your company, whoever your group is can just show up and enjoy the experience.
Other innovations we’ve got are more on the operations side. So right now, unlike our competition, we don’t have traditional warehouses. We’re utilizing a logistics network with CH Robinson to be cross-docking, which is a supply chain tactic where our inventory stays on trucks. It doesn’t actually get unloaded into warehouses. We came across a plan just through realizing that our inventory didn’t need traditional warehousing needs. Plus, warehousing and all these remote markets can be kind of expenses. Through various constraints and realizing what our ultimate need was, we came up with a plan with CH Robinson and other logistics providers to have this trial cross-docking plan where our products stay on trucks, they go to these centralized truck centers. There the product is then resorted and redispersed across our properties.
Beyond that, we have other innovations in the areas of, again, experience. We’re leveraging SMS messaging through various platforms to allow communication with us to be a text message. Those text messages allow fans to not only communicate with us but actually to have services rendered. Fans can have their catering delivery, they can have a bellhop approach them at their car when they arrive on game day and they can have service attendants come by their space to help them with whatever they need. Their mobile phone has essentially become very similar to like the phone in a hotel room where you just ring the front desk and someone comes in attends to you.
So those are the three top things we’ve done from an innovation standpoint. Other than that, our overall business model is very unique in the market. Traditionally anyone that was trying to service this market in the past is doing it at purely the B to C level. And so what we added to the mix was that partnering. We don’t engage with any consumers without having an official partnership with the music venue or the sports team that we’re working with.
Any interesting partnerships or collaborations?
Right now we’re very focused on sports and music. We also do a lot of brand work. Our first contract was a three-year deal SMU. We built out this pace called the Red Zone on SMU’s Boulevard, and through that, we got a lot of exposure to brands. From there, we’ve done brand activations for lots of major CPG brands, alcohol brands, various entertainment brands, but our brand activation work mostly consistents of experiential marketing. So we’ll do everything from tours and festivals, sporting events, or just various remote locations where brands want to use our modular assets to pop up and activate various demographics. Beyond that, we’re very focused on sports and music. We’re in Major League Baseball. We’re in the NFL. We’re in college athletics. On the music side, we’re working with Live Nation, expanding nationally with their incubator network. We also work with AEG Live and other promoters.
What’s next from Blockparty?
A more seamless, frictionless process with ordering our experiences. We’ve made some significant improvements this year in making the ordering process easier, but we have a ways to go to make it even more improved. Beyond that, we’re working on ways to allow fans to order groups experiences at the individual level. Right now, all of our group experiences, private spaces that accommodate 20, 30, 40 people have to be bought with one single payment. We are working towards evolving that to where a person can pay for their individual piece of the experience and then share that purchase with their friends. Their friends can then purchase their spots. That way we are not putting that burden on the buyer. Even beyond that, we’re working on integrating more of our experiences as well.
We’re starting to see some synergies. Some of our college partnerships are in close proximity to our professional partnerships. So, trying to put together some packages where if you’re a fan of both, we have packages that allow you to enjoy both at a reduced rate. Those are a few of the initiatives that we’re working on, among others, to really improve the experience we provide to our customers.
Your thoughts on the DFW business community?
I think it is improving every day. I’ve now been in Dallas since 2014 and I see significant improvement in the overall environment around startups. There’s always been a strong business community in Dallas. Dallas is one of the best places to start a business period in the country, but as far around early-stage ventures in the past, it trailed behind other markets. with the addition of groups like Capital Factory and others, the overall environment has improved a lot. You’ve got a lot of mentors that are getting more and more involved in the community. You’ve got better and better startups popping up around here. The investment community in Dallas is starting to react to that and is starting to get more interested in startups. Even the press, blogs, and other media are starting to cover more. There’s this overall cumulative effect that’s occurring here and it’s great. It has been going on for years in places like Austin, Silicon Valley, etc. Dallas is now starting to reap the benefits of that.
Anything else Launch DFW readers should know about Blockparty?
We feel really blessed to have launched in Dallas. Looking back, there probably couldn’t have been a better city to launch in, given the fact that SMU is our number one partner, both in our collegiate market and in general. It’s been a great partnership to really develop new ideas and new products. The overall DFW community’s been great, offering us numerous venues and teams to work with. From a talent perspective, all our all our talent, outside of a couple of resources, have been sourced locally. There’s a great talent pool. This sounds like lip service to the community but it’s been a great city to nurture and grow a business. We couldn’t be happier to be based here.