Recently, I got together with Matt Kowalczyk, the founder and CEO of Seattle-based SuperOyster.com. They are building a merchant service that allows people to sell their spot in line. This sounds whacky until you hear him rattle off the markets where this is applicable: pro football tickets, high-end automobiles, condos, fashion accessories, and exclusive memberships. It also applies very nicely to hot, scarce products like the Xbox 360 or concert tickets.
Pro football, in particular, is ripe for this type of service. Half of the teams have waiting lists for season tickets. The wait on these lists vary from 2 – 40 (40!) years. There is no consistency in the way these are managed. Some require paper submissions, some are managed with Excel, some a simple database. Some of them allow you to sell your place in line, but most do not. They need someone to bring them onto the web.
They plan to offer list management services to merchants that will not only provide basic waiting list features but will create an online market where these list positions can be bought and sold. The companies can choose between a hosted version or a webservice. Superoyster charges the spot seller a transaction fee and gives some of this to the client. The client will really win in this scenario. They no longer have to handle maintenance on their waiting lists and they are able to develop a new revenue stream.
This is not a difficult technology. This is a business that is going to live and die by biz dev. Though no one else is currently in the market there are a couple of companies that are in a position to take advantage of this business plan. Both Razorgator and Stubhub have deals with various NFL teams and it may be easy for them to develop this in-house and leverage their existing relationships. If the market becomes lucrative enough bigger players such as Ticketmaster or eBay might consider similar services.
They are a small team, currently self-funded looking for additional funding. They plan on going Alpha this month, with a July Beta, and launch in September. You can track their progress on their blog.