A Manhattan company finds the right-priced ticket to staffing

SeatGeek needed statistics, photos and oDesk flexibility to invent the industry of ticket-price forecasting.

Jack Groetzinger started a website forecasting ticket prices on the resale market because he hated not knowing whether he got ripped off buying pricey Boston Red Sox or Celtics ticket on the street. Today, Groetzinger isn't overpaying for tickets, and he isn't breaking the bank when he hires oDesk freelancers to help build his website.

SeatGeek

Jack Groetzinger / Co-founder of SeatGeek

When there is a period when we have nothing, we don't have a full time person sitting there.

"Freelancing through oDesk makes sense for us. When you're outsourcing stuff, it's easier to have one place," says the 25-year-old Groetzinger, who started using oDesk when he ran a web-based furniture rental business for students while attending Dartmouth College. He turned to oDesk again when he started Scribnia, a community for reviewing bloggers and online columnists.

"oDesk is good for us for code because the work is scalable, and we can get the number of [freelancers] we need in the time we need," he says.

Jack says he uses oDesk because he's tried the alternatives. "The best overall experience was with oDesk, and when you're outsourcing stuff, it's easier to have one place to do it all," he says. "I just go to oDesk. The talent pool is great."

He's also a fan of oDesk's management tools, which let him keep track of his freelancers' progress, and know when they're online and working. "The more you learn about [the oDesk Team application ] and how to do things, the more you realize other ways to use it."

oDesk freelancers helped SeatGeek affordably create its website and build its database. The effort got under way in May and launched its service in September. The company has seven employees in-house, and has three to five oDesk freelancers working at any given time. Among their duties, freelancers working on the database, collect pictures, check face value of tickets and watch for changes in event dates.

Jack says being able to hire freelancers who don't live in Manhattan, where SeatGeek is based, helps stretch the startup's finances. "It's hard to hire people here for under $40,000 to $50,000," he says. "The other choice would be temps, which would be more of a pain because I'd have to teach them each time, and it would be more expensive."

He says it's easy to use oDesk when he needs it — and at least as valuable to not use it when he doesn't have work to be done. "When there is a period when we have nothing," he says, "we don't have a full-time person sitting there."

How He Does It

  • 'A' for effort: "I look for someone who has spent time to customize the cover letter. Someone who shows me they have taken time to read my job description."
  • Go with your gut: "I'm in the habit of, more often than not, just looking at someone, their ratings, the price, reading their cover letter and deciding whether I want to hire them. I hire by email and dive right into instructions."
  • Rely on email: "I make sure that I communicate when I have free time and I have a record of it."
  • Build relationships: "I like to go back to the people with whom I've had good experiences in the past."

About SeatGeek

Data is the backbone of SeatGeek ( http://seatgeek.com/ ), which predicts when to buy a sports or concert ticket on the aftermarket — and what to pay. It uses oDesk talent to collect that data, everything from weather and team schedules to player injuries and competing same-day events.

SeatGeek has used up to five freelancers at a time: three in the Philippines and two in the United States (one each in Arkansas and Colorado).