Adam McAbee is in line at the concession stand during a St. Louis Cardinals game in the summer of 2019 when he hears fans going wild. He turns to the busted 32-inch TV screen to try to see what turns out to be the only two runs of the game — it’s the second night in a row he has missed the action at a baseball game he’s attending.
“I can’t believe with technology you can’t get your food brought to you,” McAbee’s wife, Kristen, says when he returns to his seat in the stands.
When he and his family return home to the Denton area, Adam begins researching. A few companies exist that deliver food to fans while they are in the stands of sports games, but the practice isn’t very widespread. So just a few months later, the McAbees decide to try to change that.
The couple founded Little Elm-based startup StadiumDrop, building their executive team in November 2019 and becoming an official LLC in January 2020, with the hopes of bringing a peer-to-peer food delivery service to more stands across the U.S. Fans can order concessions and team merch on the StadiumDrop app and runners — working as independent contractors — will bring them their orders during the game, eliminating the need for them to wait in line and miss important plays, Adam said.
“It’s DoorDash for stadiums and venues, so fans can download the app, they can get the food menu popped up on their phone for concessions and in the arenas and place their order,” Adam said. “The concession stands fulfill the order, and then runners … take it and deliver it to their seat so that they don’t have to get up and miss the action.”
Adam serves as the chief operating officer, while Kristen is the company’s CEO. Though their professional backgrounds aren’t necessarily related to their roles at the company — Adam is a chaplain for the Braswell High School football team, and Kristen is a positive academic behavioral support aid at Rodriguez Middle School — both have a passion for sports that helps drive their interest in the work, having played sports growing up and supported two of their four children in their athletic pursuits.
“My boys, they’ve kind of stuck on sports and my oldest son is a highly competitive national quarterback in the class of 2027, so it’s been a lot of fun helping him develop and grow and chasing him around all these camps and stuff; it’s been a learning experience,” Adam said. “Outside of that, we’re just a blue-collar mom and dad that work hard to provide for their kids.”
The startup has partnerships with Oklahoma State University, Arkansas State University and Northwestern State, and is in talks with 17 other potential partners including Southern Methodist University, Louisiana State University and the University of Texas at Austin. But the McAbees say they’re not stopping there — they opened their business up to public investments on crowdfunding platform WeFunder in mid-March, with the goal of raising $250,000 by the end of June to help expand the company’s operations.
The McAbees did not have luck getting funding for StadiumDrop from venture capitalist firms. But with COVID-19 necessitating reduced mobility, the founders say they are confident demand for convenience services like StadiumDrop will continue to grow.
Unfortunately, though, Adam says the pandemic also prompted StadiumDrop to have some fits and starts as teams’ seasons that they were planning to partner with got canceled. Still, Adam says technology like StadiumDrop will be essential to fans’ return to the stands.
“You can implement the technology to provide safety and security to the fans so that they can feel comfortable coming back out to game day and getting back out and in that fun entertainment environment,” Adam said.
StadiumDrop has a few competitors, with their closest, Seatz, having been in operation since 2017. But StadiumDrop is projected to be in 25 to 30 stadiums by the end of the year, a rate of growth Adam says is promising, particularly when compared with other players who have been in the game longer and been much slower to expand. And StadiumDrop’s advantage is in its simple application — it doesn’t require additional hardware or equipment to operate.
So far, the fundraiser has raised $56,000, a number Adam says they have reached without much marketing. Since StadiumDrop has always been a homegrown initiative, Adam said he hopes they can continue to build on the support of the community they love.
“We’re all involved in the 380 Corridor community one way or the other, and we’re definitely ingrained in the community,” Adam said. “Really the heartbeat of StadiumDrop is grassroots, so crowdfunding just seems to fit everything that we’ve done to this point of, ‘Hey, let’s do this grassroots, let’s bootstrap it,’ and crowdfunding is the definition of bootstrapping. It’s kind of the heartbeat of who we are.”