Upped Events

Philadelphia, United States

An AI-powered mobile payment SaaS company in the events and festivals space that increases attendee happiness and event owner profit.

The problem we're solving:

The event and festival industry has encountered numerous problems as a result of its rapid growth over the last 25 years. Process, personnel and technology standards that were popularized in the early 2000’s (such as radio-frequency identification (“RFID”) wristbands for festival entry) are still being called “best practice”, despite there being a better way. We believe that these standards are preventing events from growing, and feel that our SaaS product addresses this problem/need – by bringing more happiness to stakeholders at physical and virtual events around the world.

The significance of the problem with the event industry – on the most basic level – is that existing event management hardware-mix-software solutions do not use data in real-time to provide attendees (who are the focus of the event experience) with actionable offerings (such as automated discounts for event products) or ways to “speak back” to event owners. Ticket purchases and mobile payments are more-often-than-not accomplished using analog solutions like paper tickets, cash, RFID wristbands, or card-swipe dongles – offering no benefit back to the event owner in the form of meaningful, actionable data. The social and economic consequence of these “simple-yet-reliable” payment solutions is that attendees are missing out on benefits that event owners could be providing to them – such as surge-pricing or automatic discounts – while at the same time event owners are losing opportunities to make events and festivals more socially and economically rewarding.

Our solution:

Our product, Upped, is an enhanced mobile payment and attendee engagement solution that provides event owners with automated tools to measure and manage every stakeholder at an event (attendees, staff, managers, vendors, the event owner, sponsors, etc).

Our differentiator:

A major reason that event owners struggle to notably grow their events year-over-year is because they have grown complacent with “analog” strategies such as those mentioned above – primarily paper tickets, RFID bracelets, card-swipe dongles, or anything called “XYZ Pay”. Event owners initially implemented these solutions because they were reliable (in a pre-cellular network world) and effective at expediting entry/exit for a large number of attendees. The “acceptable trade-offs” that event owners were willing to sacrifice for this reliability, however, included (1) $5-10 per attendee in hardware or set-up costs, (2) inflexible physical infrastructure that requires a hired team to operate/troubleshoot, and (3) delayed or limited data transparency with the payment companies. Even in the wake of these analog solutions, “innovative” competitors who hoped to perpetuate their event apps have focused on ticketing or “informational features” like an event schedule – not seeing fit to provide any “real-time” data, engagement, or payment features to event stakeholders. In sum, the event management options available today – both hardware and software – are fundamentally incapable of providing an optimal event experience due to their lack of 2-way communication between event stakeholders. Without a way to “speak back” to one another, event owners are left to operate in a bubble without the tools they need to measure and improve.

Upped engagements are automated, because – in addition to simply collecting data from “basic features” that event owners expect event management software to provide (e.g., event scheduling, managing vendors and volunteers at events, an event map, staff sourcing, shift management, etc.) – our app/portal combo is integrated with AI resources that analyze attendee data in real-time. Using trend-recognition and statistics from prior events, our AI can deliver valuable real-time analytics insight, but – unlike any other competitor – it will also construct actionable ROI-calculated engagements that empower the event owner to give each stakeholder what they need on an individualized basis (whether this is a margin-calculated discount on food or simply a notification/notice that there is a shorter bathroom line nearby). With a focus on providing clients with an intuitive user experience over-top of a sophisticated AI resource, Upped creates an assistive infrastructure between stakeholders at an event, easily overcoming the limitations of current analog solutions like RFID bracelets (while at the same time significantly increasing attendee spend – another of Upped’s unique value propositions).

Biggest achievement:

Based on results obtained using our SaaS prototype software at two consecutive 8,000+ attendee events in 2017 and 2018, our product increased average attendee spend by 90% and 115%, respectively, over attendees using cash and credit cards at the same event. We expect to be able to significantly increase those percentages as a result of improvements made to Upped’s software since that time. We expect to document these additional increases as well as collect other metrics regarding attendee happiness and event owner profits for the events we plan to complete post-launch.

Program themes:

Event promotion and delivery Fan Engagement Media & Sponsorship Ticketing

Team members:

Chris Brunelli

Advisor, TBD

Edward Wyrwas

Director of Analytics

Mark Kozlowski


Thomas J. Kozlowski, Jr.

Advisor, Investor

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