FANTECH

Houston-based stadium ordering app closes near $1.3 million Seed round with plans to scale

Houston-based sEATz has closed a funding round and plans to reach more fans than ever this football season. Courtesy of sEATz

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap.

Fans across the country are headed to football stadiums this weekend to cheer on their teams, but only a few will have the luxury of ordering food, beer, and even merchandise from the comfort of their seats.

Houston-based sEATz has created a platform where fans can order just about anything their stadium has from an app. Much like any other ordering app, once the order is placed, a runner will pick up the food and deliver it to the customer for a small fee and a tip.

The startup is now preparing to scale up from seven venues to 10 before the year is over as well as launching a new version of the app thanks to an oversubscribed near $1.3 million Seed round led by Houston-based Valedor Partners. Houston-based Starboard Star Venture Capital also contributed to the round. SEATz has plans to launch its Series A round before the new year.

"We're building enterprise-level, scalable in-seat ordering, delivery, and pick-up software. We'll have all the data and validation we need this fall to really start to push that out," says CEO and co-founder Aaron Knape.

SEATz got its start when co-founder and COO Marshall Law missed a particularly amazing play by the Astros during a World Series gameduring a World Series game because he was waiting in line to get food for his family. In a world of Uber and Favor, it was time for stadiums to step up their convenience. Law and Knape had been friends for a while — they met through their wives — and they regularly bounced business ideas off each other.

"We would meet every couple weeks in the Heights for coffee and throw spaghetti at the wall. We knew we'd eventually find an idea together," Law says. "After I left that Astros game, I texted him from the parking lot and told him, 'I found it.'"

The duo teamed up with another friend, Craig Ceccanti —CEO and founder of Houston-based Pinot's Palette, which has locations across the United States — and created sEATz's parent company, Rivalry Technologies. The name's an homage to the fact that the men are from rivalry schools — Law went to the University of Texas, Knape went to Texas A&M University, and Ceccanti went to Louisiana State University.

Part of sEATz ability to grow so rapidly has been a series of key partnerships. A Rice University business master's grad, Knape got them a foot in the door at his alma mater, and sEATz's first game was at Rice last year. Then, the startup was connected to Jamey Rootes, president at the Houston Texans, at an event at The Cannon Houston. That partnership lead to an introduction with Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., a global food service and staffing company. SEATz is a member of Cannon Ventures, as well as being a member company of Capital Factory, which has its Houston outpost at The Cannon.

"At this point, we know that fans want food in their seats," Knape says. "That concerns the concessionaires because they don't want an app that just helps them sell food, because they already have long lines. What we have on the back end actually helps them divert that traffic and reduce those lines."

Aramark got sEATz into the University of Houston's basketball games, but the university then switched their food service company to Delaware North. However, sEATz had proven itself to the athletic department at UH, and wrote it in Delaware North's contract that they will work with sEATz.

Continue on InnovationMap to learn about out all the stadiums sEATz has contracts with in Houston.

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After grinding through back-to-back extra-inning games in the series with the Los Angeles Angels where they would ultimately come away with the victory, the Astros had a day off on Monday before getting back into action on Tuesday. They were in Arizona for the first of three games against the Diamondbacks. Here is a rundown of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 8, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 6-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.42 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 7.04 ERA).

Houston takes an early lead against Bumgarner and then piles on

Houston wasted no time going after Madison Bumgarner, with George Springer going after the first pitch of the game for a groundout, then Jose Altuve launching a solo home run on the next pitch to get an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. They added to that lead in the second inning, with Carlos Correa leading it off with a solo home run of his own, making it 2-0. After two hit batters and a single, the Astros had the bases loaded for George Springer with one out, and he would deliver a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 3-0.

They would put runners on base in the next two innings, but would not score again until the fifth when a Bumgarner fielding error on a potential double-play would bring in a run and extend the inning. Houston would go on to load the bases, setting up Kyle Tucker for an RBI-single to make it 5-1 and end Bumgarner's night. Against Arizona's new reliever, Martin Maldonado worked a bases-loaded walk to make it 6-1, then Springer followed with a two-RBI double, blowing the game open at 8-1.

Javier gets first-career win in another impressive start

With a lead in hand when he went to the mound, Cristian Javier had another strong performance in his second-ever start. He allowed just one baserunner over the first three innings, a single in the second. After those three efficient innings, he would face some adversity in the bottom of the fourth. After allowing a double and one-out walk, he would give up his first run of the night on an RBI-single to make it a 3-1 game. Luckily, a great double play behind him would get him out of the jam and the inning.

Javier was able to settle back in after that rougher inning, getting quick, scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, earning him the win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR.

Yet another rookie pitching debut as Houston's bullpen finishes the win

Bryan Abreu was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the bottom of the seventh. He would not have an inning to remember, allowing a leadoff double followed later by two walks to load the bases. He then walked in a run, making it 8-2, and prompting another call to the bullpen. Enoli Paredes would enter and get the final out of the seventh inning.

Paredes ran into trouble of his own in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases after a walk and two singles, but with some help from Houston's defense would keep it a six-run lead heading to the ninth. In yet another Astros debut for a pitcher in 2020, Humberto Castellanos entered in the bottom of the ninth, and he recorded the final three outs to close out the victory for Houston.

Up Next: This series continues on Wednesday with the middle game of this three-game set at 8:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 5.40 ERA) will return to the mound in another start for the Astros, while Robbie Ray (0-2, 8.64 ERA) will look to turn things around in his early season with the Diamondbacks.

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