How the St. Louis Blues are turning to startups to bring new technologies to fans
In recent years, the St. Louis Blues have launched several projects aimed at using technology to bolster how the National Hockey League franchise interacts with its fans. It’s taken on projects that include a “metaverse” e-commerce shop, predictive gaming contests and a digital fan engagement platform.
In each case, the Blues turned to startup companies to partner on the new fan-focused technologies.
“Over the last five to six years, especially, we’ve placed more of a focus on being innovative, looking into multiple different verticals that can have impacts on the business and find new ways of emerging technologies to add to our portfolio of what we’re putting out to our fan base,” said Matt Gardner, the Blues’ vice president of innovation and digital strategy.
The Blues are an example of how a well-known local brand has turned to startups to outsource R&D efforts and collaborate with smaller, early stage firms on innovative projects.
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The Blues have partnered with St. Louis-based Tunespeak to develop its Bluenatics fan engagement platform. The digital tool gives fans access to games, giveaway contests and special offers.
For Tunespeak, the partnership with the Blues has provided the firm with its first opportunity in the sports industry. Founded in 2011, Tunespeak has created a loyalty and rewards platform for musicians and bands. It’s worked with artists that include Dave Matthews Band, Lionel Richie and Miranda Lambert.
By working with the Blues, Tunespeak co-founder and CEO Tom Pernikoff said the company has been able to figure out how its technology already integrates with sports and where it needs additional features.
“There’s a lot of similarities between sports and music, but there’s some huge differences that I think have steered the product and the specific direction (of it),” he said. “For instance, with sports, there’s so many games in one venue. With music, it’s once a year or every two years a band comes around to a venue.”
For Tunespeak and the Blues, their partnership has been beneficial to both companies. It’s given the Blues a new platform to engage fans. For Tunespeak, its collaboration with the Blues has allowed it to tap into an “unexplored vertical” for the company, Pernikoff said.
“They’ve helped us conceptualize a whole ’nother business inside Tunespeak,” he said.
Tunespeak, which has a team of about 10, plans to begin pitching its technology to other sports teams.