Home Team Marketing gets $5 million investment from New York firm

Article published by Crain’s Cleveland Business — By Kevin Kleps

TicketRoar gives fans the opportunity to purchase tickets to high school events on their portable devices.

CRAIN’S CLEVELAND BUSINESS (August 4, 2017)  In 2016, Home Team Marketing partnered with Evenbrite, a deal that allowed the event technology platform to power HTM’s growing ticketing business.

The partnership has worked so well that the groups are extending it, and it helped Cleveland-based Home Team Marketing secure a $5 million investment by an affiliate of Lyrical Partners.

Lyrical, a New York-based investment firm with $8 billion in assets under management, is investing in TicketRoar, a Home Team Marketing service that allows fans to purchase tickets to a variety of high school events online and with their portable devices.

The original deal with Eventbrite was for five years, said Steve O’Neill, Home Team’s executive chairman and CEO.

“After the first year, we got together and said it was succeeding beyond our expectations,” O’Neill said. “We told them they intended to raise equity, and they offered a longer-term contract to show their support.”

The new contract with Eventbrite is for seven years, O’Neill said.

The development coincides with an infusion of capital, which Home Team Marketing said is “expected to be used to expand marketing efforts, increase sales, provide new event creation capabilities and onboard additional staff.”

HTM has 50 employees, 42 of which are based in Cleveland, said O’Neill, whose group purchased a majority stake in the company late in 2013. At the time, Home Team Marketing had 29 employees, O’Neill said.

The Lyrical investment has already led to an addition in staff, and O’Neill said HTM plans to add another six employees in the next six weeks. Home Team also has workers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami and Chicago.

“It gives us the growth capacity to take this business to the next level,” O’Neill said of the cash infusion. “It’s just that simple. We needed to hire more people. The ticketing business has a long tail. You have to have the people. This gives us capital to do that.”

At the heart of Home Team’s growth is TicketRoar, which gives schools the chance to pad their revenues in myriad ways — with sales from sporting events, to summer camps, dances, productions, and even parking passes and charitable endeavors.

In a phone interview Thursday, Aug. 3, O’Neill said he had just left a meeting in Miami that included the principals of 200 charter schools.

“A 15-minute presentation turns into requests for multiple meetings,” the HTM CEO said.

“This is just a natural evolution of what we do in the rest of our lives applied to schools,” O’Neill added. “We’re talking to the biggest districts in America at this point, and they’re all interested.”

Ohio represents about 15% of Home Team’s business. The company works with schools in 21 states, with the majority in Texas and Ohio, O’Neill said. But HTM now has “feet on the ground” in California, Florida and Illinois, plus the Pennsylvania-New York market.

“It’s a whole different ball game,” O’Neill said. “This has given us the money to take this opportunity to a new level.”

TicketRoar has partnered with more than 5,000 schools, and HTM said it has generated more than $50 million in revenues for high schools since 2001.

The company expects the Lyrical investment to expand its reach by “hundreds” of schools by the end of the year.

O’Neill added that there’s a charitable component to the platform, too.

If a school doesn’t charge for a transaction on the TicketRoar platform, HTM doesn’t earn anything, either.

“If a school collects, we collect,” the CEO said. “It’s on us otherwise.”

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