It was halftime when Carson Goodale took his place in the concession stand line at a Dallas Cowboys game a few years back, and when he did he had no idea how long it would take before he saw another snap.
“I missed almost the entire third quarter waiting in line,” says Goodale, echoing a frustration many fans have about the amount of time they waste missing their favorite sporting events just to get a hot dog and a beer.
So Goodale, a UI senior, started thinking about what he could do to improve the situation and the result is Fan Food, a free app that fans can use to order food and drinks from their stadium or arena seats. They get a notification when their order is ready to be picked up, which they can do through an express line at the concession stand.
The app also pays the bill, so lines aren’t bogged down waiting for concession workers to make change or credit card charges to be approved.
Goodale started Fan Food in December 2014 with business partners Elijah Doetsch, a UI senior majoring in economics, and Russell Krim, a recent University of Northern Iowa graduate who designed and coded the app and its online menu. Goodale, a finance major, military sciences minor, and ROTC member, says the company’s headquarters in UI’s Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL) lets his team take advantage of the startup mentoring and educational opportunities provided by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.
They also participated in last spring’s EntreFest, and FanFood won the best business award at this year’s Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute. Goodale and Krim plan to test the app this fall at UNI football games, Prairie High School football games (Goodale is a Prairie alum), and Cedar Rapids Roughriders hockey games.
Goodale and Doetsch see a significant market for Fan Food. More than $15 billion was spent in the United States last year on food and drink at stadium and arena concession stands, and the Midwest is home to more than 600 of those venues. While the app is free, the company will make its profit by taking a cut based on the total revenue generated by orders placed with Fan Food during a game. But Goodale’s research suggests a venue where fans can use Fan Food will see an increase in concession sales anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent, so the additional revenue will more than outweigh the cost and concession operators will find it worthwhile to provide the service.