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Groupmatics is tool for star-studded event

Northeast Ohio

There are quite a few reasons why the MLB All-Star Game's return to Cleveland in July was special for Matt Mastrangelo.

The Groupmatics founder and CEO is a Northeast Ohio native who got his start in sales as an account executive with the Cleveland Indians in 2005.

Fast-forward more than 14 years, and his company — the idea for which came from struggles experienced in the group-ticket-buying process — managed MLB's internal ticket inventory for All-Star weekend.

Groupmatics, via its bulk distribution tool, first worked with MLB on its internal ticketing in 2017, when baseball made that process entirely digital for the postseason.

The biggest issue then, said Mark Plutzer, the senior vice president of ticketing for MLB Advanced Media, "was teaching people who were accustomed to paper tickets to use digital tickets."

Groupmatics' platform, which tracks the "life cycle" of each ticket as it's passed from department to department (often in bulk), or person to person, was "seamless," Plutzer said.

The biggest issue then, said Mark Plutzer, the senior vice president of ticketing for MLB Advanced Media, "was teaching people who were accustomed to paper tickets to use digital tickets."

Groupmatics' platform, which tracks the "life cycle" of each ticket as it's passed from department to department (often in bulk), or person to person, was "seamless," Plutzer said.

How it works

Every MLB team receives tickets for major events such as the playoffs and All-Star Game.

That process is even more complicated for the postseason, since each club gets tickets from every playoff club's inventory.

For example, the Indians, who made their third consecutive playoff appearance in 2018, received tickets for postseason contests scheduled at the respective venues of the other clubs that had a home playoff game last fall. The same goes for non-playoff teams, which also got inventory for the American League Division Series at Progressive Field, as well as every other postseason ballpark.

Managing that inventory can be complicated, and the process is made more difficult by venues using different ticket providers. Progressive Field, for instance, is a Tickets.com venue. Yankee Stadium, on the other hand, has Ticketmaster as its provider.

Groupmatics' distribution tool manages the ticket inventory from one platform, allowing seats to be transferred to individual departments, which can then pass the tickets on to partners, who can then forward the seats to an individual. All the while, Groupmatics' software tracks the history of each ticket.

"It went from just the internal MLB client inventory to now two other segments last year — broadcast partners and non-participating (playoff) teams," Mastrangelo said. "So a reporter from Fox Sports has tickets to the Yankees and the Indians. It gives them that one hub to be able to manage that inventory."

Since the 2017 postseason, "hundreds of thousands" of tickets for big-time MLB events have been managed on the company's platform, the Groupmatics CEO said.

Major providers, partners

In addition to Ticketmaster and Tickets.com, Groupmatics has integration partnerships with such major providers as AXS, SeatGeek, Paciolan and TicketReturn.

That, Mastrangelo said, makes the company "agnostic" to the provider, and it's helped Groupmatics increase its client list to a total of 250 sports teams and entertainment venues.

The company has partnerships with 25 of the 30 teams in MLB, including the Indians. The Cavs are among Groupmatics' 16 NBA partners, and the Cleveland company's half-dozen NHL deals includes the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Groupmatics also works with 10 clubs in Major League Soccer (including the Haslam-backed Columbus Crew), Playhouse Square, the NBA G League and the United Soccer League.

"Our strength is our speed and our industry knowledge, having come from the team side," said Mastrangelo, who also worked in the Browns' ticketing department prior to going the entrepreneurial route. "That has really been our advantage."

Groupmatics has also collaborated with Soccer United Marketing and CONCACAF for the Gold Cup. The biennial soccer tournament is an example of why Mastrangelo believes Groupmatics' technology can be scaled up to even larger events.

Gold Cup matches are held at soccer-specific venues and football stadiums such as FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland and AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. FES is a Ticketmaster venue, while AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is affiliated with SeatGeek.

"We integrate with the venue, and then they can manage the inventory for these big-world events from one location," Mastrangelo said.

‘An exciting ride'

The company's growth accelerated in October 2016, when Groupmatics acquired Prototype1 — a custom software development firm that helped Mastrangelo's company build its group ticket sales platform. That allowed Groupmatics to bring its technology in-house, the CEO said.

At the time, Groupmatics had 65 clients. The number of partners has nearly quadrupled since, and the company's employee count is up to 20.

Last year, the company moved from Highland Heights into a 2,700-square-foot space in Tyler Village.

The company doesn't release revenue numbers, but Mastrangelo — who told Crain's at the time of the Prototype1 acquisition that the company's sales jumped 540% in 2015 — said the revenue bumps in the years that have followed are on par with the increase in Groupmatics' client base.

"Business is going great, and it's been an exciting ride so far," Mastrangelo said.

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