Kiwi entrepreneurs take auction app to the big ball game

The app uses the very device distracting audiences to bring them back into the atmosphere.
Neville E Guard/USA TODAY

The app uses the very device distracting audiences to bring them back into the atmosphere.

Imagine a stadium full of people are bidding for a new car but instead of the price going up, it goes down.

Two Kiwi brothers have taken the traditional auction, flipped it on its head and have scored a touchdown with the San Francisco 49ers American football team trialling the service this season.

Essentially the app turns an auction into a collective game of chicken, with the price on big ticket items dropping thousands of dollars every few seconds.

The concept has been a big hit with baseball crowds, with two auctions taking place at training at Major League Baseball spring training games where more than 20,000 people attended.

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A 2017 Ducati Panigale 959, worth $20,900 sold for $5301 at a Phoenix Arizona Major League Baseball match, and a 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, worth $30255, sold for $15,200 at a Cactus League Spring Training event. 

Mt Maunganui's Peter and Brendan Howell hope to have made a million-dollar idea by reversing the auction process.
MATT SHAND/STUFF

Mt Maunganui's Peter and Brendan Howell hope to have made a million-dollar idea by reversing the auction process.

"One of the challenges sports teams have is keeping their audience engaged during the breaks," one of the app designers, Peter Howell, said.

"When the billboards come on people switch off, go and grab a hot dog, switch on their phones and switch off from the atmosphere.

"It's gotten so bad one team said they cannot even sell advertising on their big screens anymore because they cannot compete with the mobile phones."

The app uses the very device distracting audiences to bring them back into the atmosphere. The auction is displayed on each phone as well as on the big screen to create more hype in the crowd. 

"The auctions are timed not to interfere with the game.

"This way provides advertisers with an interactive and engaging advertising platform."

Howell and his brother Brendan came up with the concept at home in Mount Maunganui, but saw big potential in the elite sports market. 

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Dropit is set for big things with Daktronics, which owns approximately 80 per cent of all stadium screens, partnering with the Howells to potentially bring their concept to high-profile matches and even the Super Bowl.

In order to realise this dream, the brothers are offering investment packages to raise capital.

They aim to raise between US$3.6 million (NZ$4.9 million) to US$5m by selling up to 790,000 share packages for US$6.30 a share.

"We are already halfway to our goal," Howell said. 

"We have been meeting with investors in Hamilton and have already had some big names in New Zealand business join up.

"As well as their money we receive their knowledge, which is probably even more valuable. Never underestimate the Kiwi connections. We had a meeting set up with the Super Bowl management through a Kiwi connection."

Shareholders of Dropit listed through the companies office include: Theresa Gattung from My Food Bag, Hamilton's Simon Perry from Perry Securities Limited and Rich Lister Adrian Burr. 

Investments will be put towards expanding the team, to fully realise the partnership with Daktronics.

"We are at a position where we will be expanding our staff to include 56 team members in the next 12 months," Peter said. 

"Daktronics has over 300 sales reps, and we need to train them all in the use of the app to activate that market."

From there the Howells hope their app will be scoring returns for their backers.  

 - Stuff

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