When professional sports and other live events resume, customers will likely want a touchless experience.
Venuetize, a Tampa mobile technology company, is ramping up its platform to provide more of that touchless experience, using $2.2 million in new capital.
The company’s platform allows people attending sports and entertainment events in stadiums or arenas, or at hotels or casinos, to make payments, get rewards, find parking, buy tickets and see videos and photos, among other things, through an app on their phone. One of its customers is Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“In the world we’ve living in now, with Covid-19, it’s all about the touchless journey,” said Jon Romm, CEO and co-founder of Venuetize. “How do we get people comfortable to get back outside, to start going to downtown district areas, to go to larger venues, hospitality, gaming locations, etc. It’s going to be all about biometrics, facial recognition, so that you’re not having to touch tickets and hand them to someone else. You can walk through the gate based on facial recognition. That facial recognition is tied to your loyalty platform, so we know who you are, we know where you are, we know what you tend to be interested in.”
Using the Venuetize app, no one has to touch cash or a surface anyone else has touched, he said. People will be able to get through lines more quickly and maintain social distancing.
Touchless technology is a major area of the platform that Venuetize has been finalizing, Romm said. Most of the new capital will go towards platform development, with some used to give the company “wiggle room” until live events resume.
“It looks like it could be a June time period where live events start again and hospitality starts opening up a little bit later than that,” Romm said. “If it went longer than that — and we know we’re not in control of timing — we need to be prepared to take care of our staff.”
Venuetize has had to reduce its staff of 42 or 43 people by about four or five staffers, and has taken some payroll reductions. The company also got a loan from the federal Payroll Protection Plan.
“We are using those funds for our staff and to be able to maintain as many people as possible and get back to normalcy as soon as we can,” Romm said. The company also intends to reinstate salaries.
The new capital was raised in the form of notes issued to investors in the most recent funding round, according to an April 28 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It was part of a larger ongoing initiative to raise $2.8 million.
“It’s not an easy time to raise money. We’re fortunate that we have an incredibly supportive shareholder base, and most of the money came from our shareholder base. We are starting to see a re-emergence of new money that’s coming back, that is recognizing that people are weathering this opportunity and will be positioned well for the future. They are starting to re-engage again,” Romm said.
“We maintained this round and still have some room in it, so I’m engaging with other people and we’ll see if we can close those people, but it was our current shareholder base that really drove the round and gave us opportunity to go after others as well.”