William Anderson (Enterprise Leadership, 2018) has always been entrepreneurial-minded. From creating a lemonade stand in third grade to selling bouncy balls made of rubber bands in fifth grade, today Anderson is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer of FanFood.

Don’t miss the big play

William Anderson grew up around sports – playing them, watching them on TV, and going to sporting events with his dad and brother. From an early age, he grew frustrated with the lines and wait times that surrounded concession stands.

“When I was younger my family went to a Saint Louis Cardinals game, I was so excited. At one point, my brother and I went to the concession stands and got stuck waiting in line for twenty minutes. When we got to the front of the line, the crowd went crazy. Of course, my favorite player at the time hits a home run which ultimately won the game for the Cardinals,” Anderson recalls. That moment sparked the idea that would shape the creation of FanFood.

FanFood is a mobile ordering platform that allows fans at sporting and live entertainment events to order food directly from their seats. Once ordered, the food will be prepared and either delivered directly to the fans’ seat or will be ready for a quick and easy pick up at the concession stands. “With the advancement in technology and all the new possible locations to watch a game, the ‘in-venue’ experience is more important now than it has ever been.” FanFood strives to bring the value and quality back to a fan’s experience. Not only is the platform increasing fan satisfaction but it is also benefiting the venues. Over 50 venues have collaborated with FanFood to date and they are already seeing big results with 25-30% increases in order volume.

From strangers to founders

Anderson decided to pursue his idea when he was a sophomore at the University of Iowa. “The final push for me was after I finished an entrepreneurship course through the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC). I knew there was a lot to learn. What better way to do that than to start a business. There is going to be a first time for everything, why not go for it sooner rather than wait around for when it ‘feels right’. My strategy was to ‘jump off the cliff and build a plane on the way down.’”

Soon after he decided to move forward with his idea, he joined the University of Iowa’s Founders Club program. Through the program, he met his co-founder, Carson Goodale (Finance, 2016). When the two first met, they were pursuing similar but different ventures. After the program brought them together, they joined forces. “All thanks to the Founders Club I met a great friend and business partner,” reflected Anderson, “with so many overlapping interests; it’s crazy to think we didn’t know each other before.”

Anderson and Goodale combined their ideas and in the Bedell Entrepreneurial Learning Laboratory (BELL), they developed FanFood. “It was a lot of trial and error. We did a lot of research and realized that we were not the first people to come up with this idea. There were other attempts in this space, none of which were successful.” This did not discourage them, it motivated them to be the one to succeed – and that is exactly what they did.

To differentiate themselves from their competitors, they created a universal platform that is applicable to venues in various verticals at low costs. This enables fans to travel from venue to venue and rely on one app to order concessions. In 2017, they had fulfilled orders at over 60 events across the country and generated over $100,000 in revenue. Recently they raised $2 million in funding from a Chicago-based sports technology, media, and marketing investment firm, Phoenix Sports Partners.

Looking ahead

To carry on FanFood’s success, they are working hard to increase the number of venue partners across the nation. What started as an idea to support fans at sporting events has expanded to support a variety of events and their viewers – including amphitheaters, food trucks, and even drive-in movie theatres.

Recently the team has formed a nationwide partnership with Samsung. Through this partnership, Samsung is supplementing technology support for FanFood’s partner venues and identifying the strongest network providers in the area of the venue to ensure the system runs effortlessly. Anderson and Goodale are also hoping to raise their series B by early 2020.

Anderson’s biggest takeaway from his startup journey was to act early even if you are unsure or afraid of failure. “When you are thinking of a new idea, something that has not been done before, do not let anything deter you from going for it. There won’t always be blueprints for success. Just because someone has failed at doing it before, does not mean you will. You could be the one to bring it to success.”