A veteran of Microsoft, Intel, Turner Broadcasting and InStadium, a Chicago marketing company that works with sports venues, Khaund, 45, became interested in ticketing when he realized how easy it was for resellers to print fake tickets from PDFs. He got the idea to use blockchain technology, the technology behind Bitcoin, to create one-of-a-kind digital tickets. Since his software can collect data on individual ticket holders and communicate with them directly, it also allows event owners to target fans with pitches for products or additional tickets. In March 2016, he launched Upgraded Inc. in Walnut Creek, CA. In this interview, which has been edited and condensed, he explains why it’s been a struggle to recruit customers and why he’s not trying to put ticket reseller StubHub out of business.
Susan Adams: Where did you get the idea for your company?
Sandy Khaund: I’m a huge sports fan and when I was working for InStadium, I started to hear from our customers that there was a problem with ticketing.
Adams: What was the problem?
Khaund: Tickets are static. If the game time changes from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., there’s no way to tell ticket holders. The other problem is it’s easy to fake tickets. If you buy them on Craigslist, you don’t know if the seller printed out a dozen PDFs of the same ticket and sold them to other people.
Adams: How common is ticket fraud?
Khaund: It happens a lot. Last year at game seven of the NBA Western Conference championship between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunders, 86 people got rejected at the gate with tickets they’d bought from StubHub. At least StubHub has a money-back guarantee but those people didn’t get to go to the game.
Adams: How did you figure out you could solve those problems?
Khaund: The issue is that ticket sellers don’t have a digital asset that’s singular. We realized one way the tech world has overcome this is with Bitcoin, which uses blockchain technology. It works like a huge ledger with debits and credits. If I give you a Bitcoin and then try to give a duplicate to someone else, the ledger says I can’t. I thought, we need that for tickets.
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