VenueNext raises $15 million to take its app beyond U.S. sports stadiums

VenueNext Inc. has raised $15 million in Series B funding to bring its venue management technology to Europe, and beyond the live entertainment industry.

Among other things, using VenueNext apps, people can wave their mobile tickets at the gate to get into a game or concert, order food, drinks or merchandise to be delivered to their seats, and get information and amenities that they need when they are in the venue.

The SAP Center in San Jose, home to the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, is the most recent major venue to adopt VenueNext for the 2016-2017 hockey season.

The Sharks join a long list of sports teams and venues to adapt VenueNext. The app will be familiar to anyone who has recently attended a game, concert or races at: Yankee Stadium, Churchill Downs, Minnesota Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, Belmont Park & Saratoga Springs, and the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, where it debuted.

Founded in 2013, VenueNext originally spun out of the San Francisco 49ers Stadium Technology group at a time when stadiums were investing in improved wi-fi for attendees, and beginning to favor mobile over paper-based tickets.

Causeway Media Partners led the $15 million Series B round in VenueNext, joined by food service giants Compass Group Plc, and Sharks Sports & Entertainment, along with other unnamed investors. In 2015, the company raised a $9 million Series A round. 

While VenueNext has found its early traction with stadiums and theme parks, the company’s founder, John Paul reports that hotels and hospitals are also signing up to use the app, at this point.

“In a venue, we want to improve your guest or fan experience, through your smartphone. For the venue operators, we’re helping them improve their business through real time data that we collect about who is in the building and what they are doing during an event or their visit,” he said.

One feature of VenueNext’s platform that sports organizations like, Paul said, is a ticket “forwarding” feature. This allows a ticketholder to easily give a ticket, via mobile, to friends or family when they can’t attend.

Venues can begin to know when, for example, season ticketholders attended games themselves or when they handed off tickets bringing new fans to the venue.

In some cases, VenueNext allows ticketholders to sell their unused tickets back to a team. The team can re-sell the ticket. And the original buyer gets credit to spend during their next visit to the stadium on things like a seat upgrade, a locker room tour, or food and beverages.

Sharks Sports & Entertainment COO John Tortora tells TechCrunch that his organization does not typically invest in tech startups but did so because of VenueNext’s potential, positive impact to the industry.

Tortora said, “VenueNext should help us drive greater revenue around ticket sales and food and beverage, and to deliver the best possible customer service. We also think ticket forwarding and mobile ticketing reduces the risk of ticket fraud. We faced that issue during the Stanley Cup finals.”

With the new round of venture funding, VenueNext aims to expand beyond the U.S., namely into Europe. Longer-term, it also intends to help venues and campuses make use of emerging technology from augmented reality to delivery drones.