“It’s an on-demand world, and FanFood is meeting that need of that on-demand world. ” — Thomas Parkinson, Peapod co-founder.
The FanFood team constantly strives to deliver: not just pretzels and beer to your seats, but more importantly, we deliver the ultimate fan experience through frictionless stadium mobile ordering. And now we are beyond excited to announce that two true masters of “delivery” just joined us on this journey: Peapod co-founders, Andrew Parkinson and Thomas Parkinson, have decided to invest in FanFood.
[Insert round of applause here 👏👏]
Founded in 1989 by Andrew and Thomas Parkinson, Peapod is the oldest e-commerce company and is considered the top online grocery delivery service by the NPD Group. Needless to say, Andrew and Thomas are highly successful entrepreneurs. In addition, their industry experience has also made them seasoned investors with a sharp eye for the next industry disruptor. And this time, they had their eyes on FanFood.
We talked with Thomas after he put down his investment to understand what prompted them to make the decision. And here are five reasons why they invested in FanFood.
1. FanFood has a great concept.
“It’s hard to believe that something like this isn't everywhere yet!”
That’s something we often hear, not just from Thomas, but also from many fans. The truth is, concessions mobile ordering at stadiums and live event venues is yet the status quo — and that’s something we've set out to change. It’s proven in the restaurant space that mobile ordering improves the customer experience and brings vendors more revenue (did you know that fans ordering on FanFood spends 25% more per order?). Therefore to Thomas and Andrew, FanFood’s value proposition for both fans and concessionnaires is very compelling.
For all of us ever been to a sports game, we probably understand the struggle: how do you strategize the timing of concession runs and bathroom breaks so that you don't miss the big play? As Dave Levey, Director of F&B at our venue partner Durham Bulls Athletic Park, said: "Fans are paying to watch the game —they aren't paying to come here and wait in lines!"
For concessionaires, their biggest stress comes from all the chaos around the stands: fans complaining about waiting forever; people getting the wrong order; someone asking for extra napkins; and just to add fuel to the fire, if the stand only accepts cash, that's another 50% increase in wait time. In fact, 45% of fans have turned away from long concession lines, resulting in lost revenue for the stands.
Fortunately, FanFood tackles the problem faced by both fans and concessionaires. Ultimately we hope for a better game day experience for all — and that includes everyone involved, from fans to the concessions staff.
2. FanFood has been validated by established venue partners.
Many startups can have wonderful concepts, but it’s the proof of real-world traction that makes a solid case. Currently FanFood has nearly 70 venues nationwide, ranging from high schools and youth complexes to minor league ballparks and arenas. Some of FanFood’s larger accounts include University of South Carolina, East Carolina University, Bert Ogden Arena (largest arena in south Texas), Durham Bulls Athletic Park...The list goes on.
“When you [FanFood] closed University of North Carolina — that was impressive,” Thomas said. “That was a big one for me.”
For both our bigger and smaller venues, we provide unique value suited for each use case. At high schools, we're able to help with booster clubs' fundraising efforts and alleviate stress of the staff, which consists of volunteer parents probably also juggling a full-time job. Here’s a video to prove how much of a difference FanFood is bringing to high schools. At larger venues such as colleges and minor league ballparks, the addition of a mobile ordering app has been able to gather fan data and nurture fan loyalty. In fact, we've seen more fans returning on our platform, as explained in our blog here.
This year when we debuted in Bert Ogden Arena at J. Lo’s “It’s My Party” tour this year, over 8,000 people showed up and guess what — one in ten people used FanFood!
Honestly though, as long as there’s food and people, there are opportunities for FanFood to be there!
3. FanFood has the right team to pull it off.
Andrew and Thomas were introduced to FanFood by our Chief Technology Officer, Jeremy Niecikowski, who joined us this year after his time at Peapod, Uptake and Grubhub. (You can learn more about Jeremy in our blog here. Guess you can say his resume is pretty impressive.)
While Jeremy is a very capable leader over our product and technology, FanFood’s CEO and co-founder Carson Goodale is an equally capable and ambitious leader of the entire company. Thomas said he was very confident in Carson as a co-founder and the collective talents on the team to make FanFood's vision a reality.
Over the past year, our team has grown from 4 to over 20, complete with departments including sales, technology, marketing, account management and design, among others. A close-knit team that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility and ownership, we have been able to conquer numerous obstacles and keep scaling new heights. We take pride in being both down-to-earth, hard-working hustlers and creative, resourceful dreamers. Most importantly, whatever we construct in our minds, we bring it to life.
As Thomas said: “Execution is key.”
4. The market is ready and consumers are ready.
“When I first heard of FanFood, instantly the bell went off for me: This is the Starbucks app for stadiums!”
Thomas is right. Mobile orders now constitute nearly half of all Starbucks orders, and
people are already so used to mobile ordering at restaurants that stadiums are actually falling far behind.
“Young people are totally trained to place mobile orders and pick up their food,” Thomas said. “You just need to create awareness within stadiums [that they can use FanFood] and have signs all over the venues [to drive app adoption].”
From an in-stadium vendor’s perspective, the convenience of mobile ordering means fans will favor concession stands from which they can order anytime and anywhere on their phones. That means competition will pick up among stands within the same venue in a race to offer the best customer experience.
It’s time to face it — mobile ordering is the inevitable future and in order to not fall behind, venues and vendors gotta hop on the bandwagon now or never.
5. FanFood has the right vision.
Think mobile ordering is nothing more than an app? Think again.
A truly connected stadium (big or small) that delivers a seamless user experience requires many components: good WiFi connectivity; widespread consumer buy-in; collaboration between venue managers and vendors; lots of marketing push to drive adoption; and of course, a stellar product. Luckily, FanFood is a full suite of solutions to drive cashless concessions experience: from concession stands, to hawkers, to even premium suites.
Our product roadmap not only includes a more powerful technological solution for fans and concessions staff, but also platforms for in-stadium hawkers to serve more fans and premium suite guests to easily access services. In the future, we want to integrate other technologies that help with reducing concession lines inside a venue, including POS systems and self-service kiosks.
Because at the end of the day, we’re fans at heart. And we’d like to bring all fans the ultimate gameday experience that we could envision — and trust us, we have a lot of big things planned.
While feeling extremely grateful that we earned Andrew and Thomas’ trust, as well as the trust of many other investors, partners, venues and fans, we also feel more motivated than ever to keep going forward. Especially with our latest product update and fast expansion nationwide, let’s just say — we’re pretty confident about hitting a home run when it comes to concessions mobile ordering.