SeatsLink Makes the Connection: Q&A with Entrepreneur Charles Kaufman
A sports aficionado turned entertainment concierge, Charles Kaufman is a savvy entrepreneur who makes going to concerts and sporting events even more enjoyable (yes, it is possible!). A year ago SeatsLink went live, a localized ticketing service that enables customers to receive special offers at neighboring businesses near venues. Kaufman sat down with me to share why he started SeatsLink and how it is changing the way locals and tourists in New Jersey/New York plan their night out before an event.
What is your professional background?
I went to University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and I chose it because it had a good school newspaper. I was interested in journalism and I became the editor of the paper after working my way up from sports editor. During an internship, I edited sports segments and game highlights for the sports department at the local Fox station in Cincinnati. My first job after college was doing production work for NBA entertainment.
Talk about your interest in going to sporting events.
Since high school, I was always a fan of professional sporting events and concerts. In my adulthood, I started buying season tickets to sports teams in New York like the Yankees, and I realized there was no way I would be able to go to all 80 games. I went to ten and sold the other 70 games to finance my hobby.
How did you decide to start a business on your own?
I wanted a service to satisfy myself, and I wanted to create something relevant to a person like me—an event goer that wants to experience the local fabric of the surrounding area. Going out to dinner or getting drinks beforehand are the elements that add to the event night. I realized that I needed to know the area well to create the rest of my evening for a more pleasurable experience. Also, those needs change if you are married, have kids, need parking options, etc. In 2012, I hatched the idea for SeatsLink.
What is SeatsLink?
I wanted to create a program where if you bought tickets to games from a website, you got certain incentives from businesses in the area of the venue. I decided to sell tickets, as well as tie in offers from local businesses to give people that unique, authentic experience. In late 2012, we began to create a website with a design company in Brooklyn. By mid-2013, SeatsLink officially launched, and by 2014, we had our inventory of tickets, so we went live.
What’s the SeatsLink customer experience?
We do have a national inventory, but if you live in the New York or New Jersey areas, we act as are your local ticket source for local events. The difference with us is that after you purchase your ticket, you have access to the network of affiliated services at a discounted price—restaurants, parking, car services, and other relevant activities—to build out the rest of your evening. You do this by creating your own SeatsLink certificate after tickets are purchased. For example, if you want to go to one of our restaurant partners, you create a certificate for your restaurant of choice with a dollar amount. You also choose the date it is valid. Then you pay for it. The discount is 15% off the dollar value, so $100 will cost you $85 but it is worth $100. You can keep it on your phone or print it out and then use it at the restaurant on the day of the event. We also let you keep your certificate for 30 days after the valid date because we know plans change.
What national events do you sell tickets for?
Although our inventory is primarily local, we will put other events on our site like the Super Bowl, Final Four, and big national tours that we know people will want to go to.
Any future plans for SeatsLink that consumers should know about?
We are continuing to grow our local affiliations to further enhance the customer experience, especially for tourists who don’t know the area. We are aggregating things that people want to do. We live in an on-demand culture and people want to have an all-inclusive experience.
What are your favorite sports teams? Favorite entertainment venue?
I root very hard for the New York teams. I grew up with the Yankees, Jets, Nets, Rangers, and now I follow the Red Bulls major league soccer team—their stadium in Newark is my favorite place to watch a sporting event.
I also like Madison Square Garden. A lot of people who love music say that big venues lack charm and that you can’t connect with performer, but the most successful bands and musicians play in them. Performers like Mick Jagger put on amazing shows at these larger venues that are worth seeing.
SeatsLink has offered LuxuriousPROTOTYPE readers 10% off any ticket purchase until October 31st. Use promo code LUXURYPRO at time of purchase. Visit www.seatslink.com
Nubia DuVall Wilson is a contributing writer. She is a luxury travel & lifestyle expert, a published author of Encounters with Strangers, and owner of www.encounterswithnubia.com. Follow her on Twitter @NubiaWilson.