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Capital Factory Spotlight: Partake Technologies

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.

Founding year:

January 2017

Founders:

Nick Van Der Meulen and Heath Barnett

Company mission:

Partake Technologies is a mobile payment and customer value analytics platform for sports and arenas.

The number one biggest complaint today with sports entertainment is all around customers service and speed of service. Oracle did a study on the average wait time today in venues (music concerts, stadiums, sporting events) and discovered that the average wait time at these places was 30 minutes. One out of two customers actually leaves the line without making a purchase. One out of three doesn’t even make a purchase for fear of missing out on the big moment of the game or the concert. If you take the actual national average check size, it’s about $15 billion in revenue that venues are missing out on.

Starbucks validated the model. At McDonald’s, you can now pre-order for pickup. We’re a mobile society now. You have a market that’s demanding it. You have technology in the past that’s tried it. I think they tried it way too early or it was just really bad technology. We saw that the big opportunity for the venues was on the data side.

That’s why blockchain is so big in ticketing for sports entertainment. It allows you to track who the end user is of that ticket. If I buy 10 tickets today, a venue actually doesn’t know if I showed up or who the other nine people were that came with me. They won’t be able to collect any of that data. Once you actually go inside the venue, venues are completely blind as to what type of customer purchases what type of products, what type of brands, etc.

On the data analytics side, we not only show a venue that they sold a million dollars worth of Bud Light but of that million dollars, 40% was female, 60% was male, this was the average age, demographic, etc. We are giving them the analytics to understand their customers and provide a better experience as well.

What was the inspiration to start Partake Technologies?

I was on a golf course one weekend with some friends and we couldn’t get any service on the course. I was sitting there complaining the entire time. There is no reason I shouldn’t be able to order from my phone and have a beverage car deliver it to me on the golf course. Then, like a week later, my dad and I went to a football game. The lines are always taking too long. Everybody waits until intermission or halftime to actually go get food.

Connecting those two occurrences, I started doing a little bit of research. I saw that there was a problem. The market is speaking about it too and they’re saying it’s the number one issue. 

I looked at what technology was out there. There’s one company that tried this in 2009. Of course, it wasn’t going to work in 2009, the iPhone was two years old. Venues didn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity like they do today.

That inspired me and my co-founder. One, I had an idea. Two, it was based on the research and I saw that the market was in demand for it. Three, I noticed that all these companies were concentrating on mobile ordering, where, for me that’s simple. Mobile payments, it’s not hard. I think the actual opportunity is the data and the analytics to actually help venues create a true customer profile.

If you actually look at the true definition of ‘partake’, it’s food and beverage related specifically. I thought it was a very good name because we built this platform agnostic. We could take this to restaurants. We could take this anywhere. I think partake is a very good neutral name that allows you to go into multiple industries as well.

We’ve gotten great responses. Our data, with our customers today, has been phenomenal. We bootstrapped the company and launched the product. We built all the technology in-house. We launched the product on January 1 of this year. We worked with a couple of select customers this year. 2019 is about to be a very busy year for us.

What services do you provide?

We work specifically with the venue. We’re not a company that provides a staff to do the delivery. We built the technology that allows a venue, based off of their operations, to utilize our technology to offer to pick up and pre-order for express to everybody. If they want to do delivery, they can use our platform to set it up. Everything is dynamic with the application.

For venues, you’ve got a captive audience for so much time and this is an industry where over 65% of purchases are impulse. Let’s make it easier for these customers to spend their money. Let’s make it easier for them to have a better experience because, guess what, that keeps them coming back. Especially with the millennial generation. The younger generations are not going to accept this. The younger generations are about experience. If you make me wait in line for 20 minutes to get a beer and a hot dog, you just lost me as a customer. The other side of it is a lot of people today aren’t accepting the not as tasty, ordinary hot dogs or the pretzels and salt. A lot of venues are now trying to get more creative, a little more local.

For example, in Sacramento at Golden One Center, they work with all local restaurants. This obviously takes a little bit more preparation time as well, because better quality takes a little bit longer to cook. That’s also where we see an opportunity. I like good quality food, good quality service, and letting your customer driving the transaction and you be there to provide the service.

Let them turn their phone into a point of sale. Let them drive the transaction. Let them have access to everything that you offer. Then let them sit there in their seat and do what they’re there for, to enjoy the experience. Then you can notify them when their orders ready. They walk up, grab it, go back to their seat. Our ultimate goal at Partake is to create an experience that is convenient and seamless, not just for the customer, but also for the venue.

What innovation does Partake Technologies offer businesses?

Let’s say that one event is for a football game; we’ll use AT&T Stadium. The way the stadium is structured from a seating perspective is very different from if they have a concert. They can actually go and update all that information and have multiple types of seating configurations. We built the technology to give them the service to be able to provide that convenient service to their customers.

On the back end, we provide all the necessary reporting, we track inventory for them, we integrate with their legacy operations (their back office). Then we provide them with the advanced analytics and an actual CRM so they can actually see how often a customer visits their facility, what they spend on average, and what type of products they like to buy.

Any interesting partnerships or collaborations?

We are partnered with the Sacramento River Cats, a minor league baseball team, as well as Arcis Golf. We are looking to partner with companies like SMG, Comcast Spectator, and the Texas Legends. Companies managing countless venues across the US.

What’s next for the company?

Food and beverage is step one. We’re finalizing our 2.0 right now. We’re about to release merchandise and then we’ve got some things in the works for the ticketing aspect right now. Our ultimate goal, from a consumer perspective, is basically to give them an end to end solution. I can go to one place where I get my tickets, I can buy merchandise, and I can buy my food and beverage. My entire experience is at the touch of a button.

Your thoughts on the DFW business community?

The entrepreneur community is strong. Part of it is that there’s a lot of opportunities here in the Dallas market. We have some of the largest corporations headquartered here. We have a pretty innovative pool.

Austin is obviously one of the competitors because a lot of people move down there, but I think that Dallas has the potential. There’s a lot of major corporations here so there’s gonna be good talent that’s up here in general. We have a pretty strong entrepreneurial community.

One of our biggest challenges in Dallas is on the investment side. Angel investors in Texas, in general, are usually very conservative. In Austin, you get a little bit more of the coastal type angel investor, because a lot of them have moved from the coast.

That’s one of the problems is Dallas has very wealthy people, but they’re very conservative. They really don’t know how to play in the angel investor space, even though they might say that they do. There needs to be a little bit more institutional money coming in. We have a lot of private equity, but I don’t think that we have that many venture institutions.

Anything else Launch DFW readers should know?

We’re at that inflection point where the demand is there and venues are finally starting to get the supply. The supply is the infrastructure that they need to be able to provide that type of experience. Venues aren’t competing against other venues today, they’re now competing against daily life.

2018 is the year where we knew what the challenges were. Some of the companies that have tried before really put a bad taste in the market. We knew that we couldn’t just go and sell this product everywhere. We worked with select customers throughout this year, made improvements, and worked with them directly to make sure that our platform did what we wanted it to do. Now we have a few partnerships that we’re finalizing, which I think will provide some pretty big opportunities for 2019.