The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI graduate creates app to decrease concession lines at live venues

Joseph Cress
Fans wait in line for concessions before a men’s basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 86-83 in OT. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

When Carson Goodale reflects on his childhood, an Iowa football game comes to mind. He was in eighth grade, it was snowing, and the Hawkeyes were down at the half, but they ended up winning on a field goal.

“I’ll never forget that experience for the rest of my life,” he said. “I remember that exact moment and feeling, and that’s something I want to replicate for everyone.”

The result was FanFood, an app released a year ago this month. The app provides attendees at sporting events, concerts, and other experiences with the ability to limit waiting by ordering concessions via mobile phone. Orders are then available to be brought to seats or picked up to maximize experiences at live events.

Goodale began working on the app during his senior year at the UI, using his financial studies to increase his knowledge of business operations. He stated that while classes introduced him to concepts that would create FanFood, the relationships he built granted the most success.

“The Founders Club and entrepreneurial program helped introduce me to great mentors that I’ve built relationships with, and I’m really grateful for them,” Gooddale said.

He turned down several corporate jobs to pursue FanFood, and he didn’t want to “look back in 10 years and ask, ‘What if?’” While he said he has no regrets about this, Goodale said there are consequences with maintaining a start-up venture.

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One of these consequences is the difficulties in creating partnerships with whom he has a personal connection. He was enthusiastic about the idea of doing business with UI venues but was turned down when he approached them.

“None of it has gained much traction because fans still get up to go to the bathroom, wander around and stretch their legs, etc.,” Steve Roe, assistant athletics director, said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “When Iowa was approached, [FanFood] was declined, partly due to connectivity, along with the fact that Kinnick Stadium would not have enough points of sale to be able to dedicate on stand to this.”

Despite FanFood’s lack of success with UI venues, Goodale was able to establish a partnership with Principal Park, home of Triple-A baseball team Iowa Cubs.

“I gave Fan Food the opportunity since they’re local, and we’d like to see them grow in any way they can,” said Brad Six, Principal Park’s general manager. “Fan experience is one of the biggest things for ballparks, and any way we can increase the fan experience is important to us. If fans come here happy and leave happy, that’s a plus.”

Reflecting on the past year and looking ahead, Gooddale is relentless in the pursuit of his goals.

“I’m not satisfied,” Goodale said. “I want to be a market leader in concessions across the country.”

In the next year, he wants FanFood to have a partnership with venues in every major league, to sign with at least 20 more venues, secure financing, and hire a sales board to expand. He stands behind his creative venture and knows that it will pay off.

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