San Francisco (AFP) - During more than a decade as a ticketing agent, Jean-Sebastien Gosuin over and again saw empty seats at sold-out events from FIFA soccer matches to the Olympics.
This inspired him to team up with two other Belgian entrepreneurs to create Seaters, a ticket-fielding platform and app designed to give fans second shots at seats that become available at events that are technically sold-out.
"Even if an event is sold-out, there are always empty seats," Gosuin told AFP at a Collision technology conference in Las Vegas this week.
Organizers typically hold back seats for problem solving or to have spaces available in the event of unexpected need.
Meanwhile ticket resellers who buy bulk lots often return seats they don't sell, and sponsors or corporations that buy blocks of seats for promotions or as employee perks sometimes have tickets they can't use.
Some ticket holders simply cancel for personal reasons.
Seaters comes into play after an event is officially sold out, creating a dynamic waiting list that provides aspiring ticket-buyers with a percentage probability of getting a spot in the stands.
As seats once claimed become available, Seaters gives those in the queue opportunities to snatch them up.
Tickets are priced at face value, with Seaters charging a 20 percent handling fee.
"It is bringing fair trade to a very dark market," Gosuin said.
"It is an official gateway to the last seats that remain; the long-term vision is no more empty seats."
Fans, teams, food vendors and sponsors whose logos adorn stadium walls benefit from making sure seats aren't wasted at events, he added.
Seaters established headquarters early last year in New York.
Meanwhile in Europe, French financial services titan BNP Paribas has already used it to redistribute employee tickets to sponsored events, according to Gosuin.
And French soccer club Olympique Lyonnais is rolling out Seaters for matches, the startup chief said.
Seaters recently won a place in a Tremplin startup incubator in Paris, where it has an office.