Kiwi tech company DROPIT continues to disrupt sporting events across the globe with its live drop auction app platform.
DROPIT is an interactive, fan engagement app connecting sponsors and teams with their fans during drop auctions of premium products, with prices dropping steadily during a 60-second countdown.
The app delivers fan engagement for sponsors, generating valuable consumer data for sports teams and their sponsors. The live auctions are used to entertain sports fans during game breaks, projecting the action simultaneously on massive scoreboards and users’ phones.
It was launched in November 2015 by Mount Maunganui brothers Peter and Brendan Howell.
Now valued at $39 million, the company has recorded a whirlwind 12 months; firstly disrupting the lucrative United States sports sponsorship market after signing a distribution deal with Daktronics, the world’s leading manufacturer of electronic scoreboards and digital signage, and then a three-year deal with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
While continuing to break into the US market, DROPIT also made its debut back on Kiwi shores in 2018 with auctions already held at both SKYCITY Breakers and Black Caps matches. The Vodafone Warriors will be next to join the DROPIT revolution this month, and many more teams are expected to link up in 2018.
“The United States is not only the largest consumer market in the world, but a country brimming with start-ups and a thriving innovation culture,” explains DROPIT CEO Peter Howell.
“So making an impact over there gave us market validation in proving that this technology is something the sporting landscape had previously been missing.”
At the same time, the investment response back here in New Zealand began gaining momentum as word of DROPIT and its global sporting potential grew alongside Kiwi sporting partnerships.
This included raising $5 million in just two months during its second funding round late last year. Among the latest investments was a record-breaking $1 million injection from Enterprise Angels, and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) welcoming DROPIT into their $50 million Seed Co-Investment Fund family.
“Being a Kiwi-owned and operated start-up, we are rapt to bring the app back home and share our passion for sport with New Zealand fans.
“Since launching in the US we have had nothing but overwhelmingly positive feedback from sports teams, sponsors and fans on the technology and believe this will only grow.”
Howell says the company is using the new capital to bolster staffing numbers in Mount Maunganui and the United States to a total of 56 in the next year. DROPIT currently has 15 employees: four in New Zealand and 11 in the US.
The company relocated its head office from San Francisco to Miami last year – deemed the second-most entrepreneurial city in the US, with the highest start-up density at 247.6 startups per 100,000 people, according to the Kauffman Index.
Howell says fan engagement is an overused term in the sporting industry – everybody is talking about it, but nobody can clearly define what it means.
“DROPIT combines technology with psychology to create a truly immersive fan experience that the company can measure with data. We gather data that teams, venues and sponsors currently have no access to, all while creating adrenaline-pumping brand loyalty from fans.
“For teams, attracting and retaining sponsors is a competitive business. As sponsors become more savvy and rely on technology to measure returns, teams must deliver real, measurable value. DROPIT provides teams with an edge over the competition in this space.”
The return on sponsorship begins in-stadium but continues post-event as brands can send targeted offers to auction participants based on their locations and preferences.
The auction is not intended to generate immediate revenue for the brand, although it does achieve this to some degree. The value comes in increased revenue generated after the game through valuable purchase intent data gleaned from the auction.