To crack down on fraud and fake ticket scalpers, more and more sports teams are phasing out hard copy tickets and going paperless. The Denver Broncos have mandated the change for 2018 and several others, including the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs, are following suit. There’s even buzz that the NFL as a whole will implement the plan next year. This change means an emerging new reality for fans: the only way to get into the game (or call for a Lyft or Uber afterward) is to keep their phones charged.
What happens if a phone dies during a tailgate or as the event is unfolding, though? It’s a frustration that may become prevalent among average sports fans, so a forward-thinking company decided to solve the problem.
goCharge, the first company to introduce mobile charging stations in the U.S. over 10 years ago, has now provided over 160 new units to stadiums — including 27 of the 30 MLB parks.
The company has also outfitted several major NFL stadiums, including those of the Broncos, Titans, Vikings, Cardinals, Patriots, 49ers, Dolphins, Bears, and Saints.
“The goCharge stations are invaluable to our fans who need to stay connected and take advantage of convenient mobile ticketing,” said Tennessee Titans VP of Marketing Ralph Ockenfels. “Indoor and outdoor units mean they can charge up, anywhere, anytime, staying engaged in the game from kickoff to half time to lights out — in 2018, that’s the best way to watch the game.”
goCharge is popping up in many NBA, NHL, and Minor League Baseball stadiums too, and was recently announced as the preferred charging station partner for the United Soccer League.
“We’ve always been a significant presence in high-traffic venues,” said goCharge CEO and Founder David Walke. “Now, we’re providing a functional way for fans to communicate with other fans (and use their mobile devices) while enjoying the game.”
The company, which is based out of New York City and runs its logistics and warehousing near O’Hare Airport in Chicago, caught its biggest break in 2014 when MLB Advanced Media approached Walke and his team with an idea.
“They came to us and said, ‘we want to place charger stations in all our baseball stadiums, primarily to promote the At Bat app. What they did, very brilliantly, was say, as long as you have some specific branding of the At Bat app, you can get local sponsorship as much as you want on other parts.”
BAM also provided the runway for goCharge to showcase its long list of product variations and differentiators. Walke and his team created high-top tables and other forms of charging stations with sleek names — such as the Atlas, the Zeus, or the Falcon to name a few — and the results were astounding.
“Very few of our competitors had a diversified line of products; they had one solution and had to offer a one-size-fits-all. We were very responsive to the requirements of the customer and the venue, MLB or Live Nation. It was a great differentiator and very attractive to our customers,” said Walke, whose company’s charging stations rent for approximately $7,000 per unit, per season.
“High-tops. Standard tables. Coffee tables. We like to be the ‘yes company.’ You ask? We do everything we can to say ‘yes.’”
Around the same time four years ago, goCharge was awarded a contract from Live Nation. The events promoter and venue operator wanted to put solar-powered chargers outside its venues — not for mobile ticketing, but for keeping people connected for social media purposes. As a result, goCharge put over 50 solar-powered stations outside of approximately 20 venues.
In addition to exploding in the sports and entertainment realms, goCharge has become a viable option for conferences, events, and festivals. For example, Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on September 29 will feature 24 rented stations for attendees in need of an emergency charge.
So, what’s next for this budding company? Walke outlined his plan for three pillars of a business development strategy, which include wireless charging and a robust, cutting-edge solar program.
The most powerful vision, however, entails creating the ability to capture data and enter into an online, interactive, SMS-based mobile engagement with the user.
For example, imagine going up to a unit and in order to receive a charge, you had to answer a brief survey from a given sponsor.
Have you ever owned a Ford?
When do you think you will purchase a car next?
Do you plan to lease or buy your next car?
The quick answers a fan provides before receiving the service is valuable information for the sponsor, who will then collect the data and send a promotional, informational text message to the user.
Come to Ford to get a free oil change this month!
Walke, who correctly labeled this potential added layer to the buyer-seller relationship as “really powerful stuff,” is excited about the future for goCharge and how it will continue to expand in an evolving marketplace.
“If we continue to build our platform in the sports and entertainment market, as well as in the rental market, conference market and event market, we think we’re on right path for continued, tremendous success.”