The Story Behind Tapgift
This season the Stockton Ports have partnered with Silicon Valley startup Tapgift Network, Inc. to introduce a new gifting and fan engagement mobile application that they feel could change the way teams think about marketing to their fans. Docking With The Ports sat down with Tapgift co-founder Jeff Cooper to talk about the app and learn more about the concept behind it.
Tell us about Tapgift. How did you get started?
A couple of years ago my buddy (co-founder Mack Cage) and I were at a Raiders game and our friend who lives in Arizona – who also happens to be a huge Raiders fan – was texting us like crazy during the game. He was so jealous he couldn’t be there in person. He was living vicariously through our experience in a virtual way. We thought it would be pretty cool if our buddy in Arizona could send us a beer in Oakland while we were at the game. Not one of those virtual beers or badges that were popular at the time, but an actual beer we could redeem in real time – just like if he had been there with us.
What prompted to you to move forward on this idea?
Believe it or not, Justin Bieber.
Really? Please explain.
A few days after the Raiders game I was poking around the iTunes store looking at the top ten apps. At that time seven of the top ten paid apps were Justin Bieber related, and all of them were ridiculous. Dress Justin like a Samurai, stuff like that. Suddenly our crazy idea didn’t seem so crazy after all.
So you must have a background in app development.
No, none at all. Mack was working in finance and I was working as a graphic designer. We did some research and couldn’t believe there was nothing like this already out there or in development. Mack brought in two colleagues from his past (David Kalman and Jay Singonahalli) and the Tapgift team was born.
How did you come up with the name Tapgift?
Our initial focus was on gifting via the mobile app. Since you tap a screen instead of click a mouse, we settled on Tapgift. We also like that it’s easy to spell and easy to remember.
You mentioned that gifting was your initial focus. How has the Tapgift evolved from that original idea?
Gifting is still the heart and soul of Tapgift. When a friend shares a gift with another friend, it is more personal than a Facebook wall post or a text message; it is two people sharing an experience. When you can share that experience in context of what you are doing at that moment –watching the Ports at Banner Island Ballpark – it really is something unique. But during our research and development stage we came to understand that teams could really benefit from the convergence of smartphones, mobile commerce and social networking technologies. Teams spend countless dollars luring fans to their events, then they drop them off at the gates and leave them to fend for themselves. With Tapgift, teams can continue this relationship with their guests at the time they are most connected with their brand – while they’re sitting in their seats. Teams can use our platform to keep their fans engaged throughout the game by offering deals, rewarding fans with check-in prizes and offering unique experiences in real time right through the Tapgift mobile app.
How have Ports fans embraced Tapgift?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Through the first half of the season we’ve had over 1,500 Ports fans download our app and use our system. We get a lot of comments like “why didn’t I think of that?”
Have you discovered any surprising results?
A couple of stories stand out. One young fan called his mom at home and had her download the app and buy him some nachos because he was out of money and hungry. But my personal favorite is from a user in Arizona who sent his Dad – a Ports season ticket holder – several beers as a Father’s day gift since he couldn’t be there in person. That is so much better than sending him a tie!
Have there been any issues getting Tapgift up and running at Banner Island Ballpark?
We’ve been very fortunate to have a great partner in the Stockton Ports. They were the first team to take a chance on this new concept and have been a real key to our early success. They really get what we’re trying to do and have supported us every step of the way. Things have gone incredibly smoothly from a technical and logistical standpoint.
Where else is Tapgift available?
Currently we are exclusive to the Stockton Ports. We are in talks with a handful of other teams and venues to bring Tapgift to a wider audience. We hope to be available in 4-5 other venues by the time this baseball season ends.
Where can fans get the app?
Tapgift is available as a free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Just search for Tapgift on your smartphone’s store app, login via Facebook (required) and you’re good to go. We’ll even send you a welcome gift you can redeem at the park just for trying it out.
Where can people learn more about Tapgift?
You can visit our webpage at www.tapgift.com. You may also like our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/Tapgift to keep up to date on all of the daily deals and promotions the Ports are offering through Tapgift. You can also follow us on Twitter: @tapgift