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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
The idea behind the startup company Ticket Spicket was born about four years ago, when Roanoke resident Russell Hertzberg's daughter was playing middle school volleyball.
"My wife and daughter and I were sitting around thinking of fundraising ideas for her volleyball team," Hertzberg recalled. "My wife thought about selling season tickets for the team."
Hertzberg, who has a professional background in technology applications development, said that set his mind turning about ways to integrate digital ticket sales with fundraising for school athletic programs.
"I thought about how schools often do season tickets with a plastic pass," said Hertzberg, a Roanoke College graduate. "I thought it would be great to get that on a mobile device, where we could sell advertising sponsorships to every event" as a fundraising tool, he said.
Hertzberg shared the idea with a friend and professional colleague, Donnie Schemetti, a VCU graduate with a background in marketing and communications, who liked the concept. To develop the application, they partnered with another friend, Ernie Hawkins, an Old Dominion University graduate who has spent most of his career in user interface and user experience design.
In April 2016, Ticket Spicket was founded as a Richmond-based company. The co-founders started offering their service to schools and school districts, an underserved market for digital ticket sales.
Schools can sell tickets to sporting events via the Ticket Spicket platform while also raising funds to support athletic programs through sponsorships, which can include national, regional or local businesses. Schools also can use the app to promote athletic events and track attendance data. Ticket buyers can check into events using their smartphones.
"We're just providing a convenience for fans," Hertzberg said. "One of the things we try to do is raise revenue not just through sponsorships but through fan engagement. The app also can remind people of games."
Ticket Spicket started with a few schools as customers in 2016. Later that year, Adam Hammer, a digital platform and business systems analyst with an MBA from VCU, joined the startup as its chief strategy officer.
Two years later, Ticket Spicket is being used by schools in 20 states.
Richmond-area customers include J.R. Tucker High School in Henrico County and Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond. High schools in Loudoun County and Spotsylvania County also are using the platform. Recent additions include the Prince George's County, Md. school district, one of the top 25 largest in the U.S.
While not all schools charge for athletic events, the co-founders of Ticket Spicket think their potential market is as many as 25,000 schools nationwide.
Ticket Spicket earns money through a revenue sharing model with schools on event sponsorships. The company keeps its convenience fees low for ticket sales, at 25 cents plus 5 percent of the ticket price. "This started out to be a fundraiser, and we have very much maintained that as part of our business model," Schemetti said.
The model was appealing to Dick Kemper, executive director of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association, a network of about 100 private schools across the state, which has used Ticket Spicket to sell tickets to its sports events. "It was very successful for our state wrestling program last winter," Kemper said.
"We are hoping to get to the point where more and more of our tickets are sold that way," Kemper said. "It is so easy for people."
Ticket Spicket started out working in the Gather co-working space in Richmond's Scott's Addition area. Earlier this year, it moved into Gather's third co-working space in West Broad Village in western Henrico County.
"Being in Richmond is fantastic for a startup," Schemetti said. "There is such a great community here, not only of fellow startups, but also people that just want to support what is happening."
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