San Antonio’s SeatSmart Builds Marketplace for Sports & Arts Tickets

Snowmageddon got you hankering for sunny Phoenix and last-minute Super Bowl tickets?

San Antonio startup SeatSmart, an online marketplace for secondary tickets, is launching today. The site provides what co-founder and CEO Brett Cohen says are better values to consumers while also helping ticket brokers build personal relationships with those buyers. “The current system is broke for both fans and brokers,” he says.

Typically, tickets are bought either at a venue’s box office, or more frequently, through third-party re-sellers like StubHub, which can tack on fees that brokers don’t get a cut of. Brokers themselves purchase the tickets from box offices or through season-ticket holders.

For many who buy tickets from re-sellers, there is an added sting just as they are plugging in their credit card numbers to finalize the purchase: last-minute service or shipping fees. Cohen says that won’t happen with his company’s “preferred inventory,” obtained with brokers SeatSmart has verified beforehand. For example, tickets for the upcoming Super Bowl are about 20 percent cheaper on SeatSmart compared to third-party re-sellers, he adds.

So far, Cohen says SeatSmart has 65 ticket brokers on the site.

The idea for the startup came to Cohen out of his experience working at his father’s ticket brokerage, Best Tickets, which has locations in San Antonio and Austin, TX. As he built the company’s online marketplace, he says he saw an opportunity to bring other brokers’ inventories onto the Web in one place.

SeatSmart charges the broker a monthly fee of about $100 and gets a 5 percent transactional fee for each ticket purchased. Brokers are willing to pay for this because SeatSmart helps them avoid the middleman of resellers who control the final ticket price. This way, the broker can be directly connected to the buyer in order to build a customer relationship, Cohen says. “A true broker-to-fan marketplace doesn’t exist and it needs to,” he adds. “We provide that.”

Roger Jones, co-owner of Alliance Tickets of Colorado and Las Vegas-based, agrees. “Unlike other marketplaces, SeatSmart gives me the opportunity to build a relationship with the customer when my tickets are sold,” he said in a press release.

SeatSmart has three other co-founders besides Cohen and has five employees. Cohen says he expects to be able to close on a seed round of $1 million in a couple of weeks. Half of the money is expected to come from ticket broker companies, with the remainder from angel investors.



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