By: Jaden McLeod
Mount Maunganui-born Peter Howell is proud of what he and his brother, Brendan, have been able to accomplish.
The Bay brothers created a fan engagement app, which is expected to interact with millions of people in the U.S. at Major League Baseball games.
“It’s a game-changing solution to a problem facing many sports teams and sponsors all around the world, which is fan disengagement,” says Peter. “People are going to stadiums and pulling out their phones, which is great – everyone wants to be connected – however people are being disengaged from the sponsors, the team and the venue. DROPIT changes all that.”
DROPIT auctions off premium items, with prices dropping steadily during a 60-second countdown. It was created and launched by the duo in November 2015.
“We found we had 92.5% of people who were returning on a daily basis to our site. So we packed our bags and headed to the States. Now we have offices in New York, San Francisco, Miami and Vancouver.”
The app was originally trialled in New Zealand but earlier this year a lucrative deal was signed with Daktronics in the United States.
Peter explains how it came about. “We got into an incubator called Rocket Space, and there have been companies like Uber and Spotify start their big unicorn businesses out of there. There were a lot of good connections. When you hit San Francisco you just have to meet up with people every night, working long hours, networking and selling your idea.
“Finally, there was a guy sitting next to Brendan in Rocket Space, who was invited to a draft party with the San Francisco 49ers. He mentioned DROPIT to one of the sponsorship people up there – next thing you know we were off.”
Peter has chosen to continue living in New Zealand’s Bay rather than the Bay Area in San Francisco, saying the past 18 months has been a whirlwind.
“When you are cracking teams and cracking distribution deals – living on adrenaline and caffeine, you just keep going for it. It feels really good to have cracked the States. I think we’ve hit the tipping point, we’ve launched in the U.S. and moving forward, it’s sort of a dream come true for me and my brother.”
He says it would be wonderful to see the app introduced to stadiums across Aotearoa.
“There’s been an evolution in technology in stadiums that will allow us to run the DROPIT auctions: Westpac Stadium are putting a whole wifi-network in, Vector Arena has great wifi and 3G networks in there, other stadiums are upgrading their systems so that they can run the auctions.
“We are excited as we’ve had approaches from every code in New Zealand wanting to run DROPIT – it is really just timing and getting resources on the ground here to be able to do that.”
And Peter is now passing on his business knowledge to new, local start-ups.
“We just love tech, we want to see it grow, we want to see VR headsets in stadiums. We want to evolve our products to become a part of that as well.”
He says people should act on the little idea in the back of your brain – because you just never know what might come of it.
Source: Bay of Plenty Times