Urban Tailgate founders Todd Swedock and Chris Vander Poel Urban Tailgate, a social network for sports fans, aims to solve a simple problem: if you live in New York but support out-of-town teams, where do you go? The company matches people with local bars where they can watch their favourite teams’ games with other fans — and ideally, with lots of big TVs and game sound. As the startup goes into its second year, co-founder and CEO Todd Swedock is expanding his reach beyond New York to other cities with big populations of transient sports watchers: Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, and soon L.A.
Football is UT’s biggest sport: The New Orleans Saints club, which grew last year from five fans to more than 150, meets Sundays at Bar None near Union Square. Some 400 to 500 Buffalo Bills fans pack two bars every weekend. And UT’s Chicago Bears bar on the Upper East Side drew hundreds of rabid Chicagoans (including this reporter) many Sundays during last season’s march to the Super Bowl.
Swedock advertises the bars on UrbanTailgate.com — about 11,000 signups — and on other social networking sites like New York’s Meetup.com. (We think he should get a Facebook app cooking as soon as possible, too.) About 15 partner bars — which ordinarily might be empty on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon — pay Urban Tailgate a startup fee to sponsor a fan club and a weekly commission based on how many people show up. Swedock worked as a trader on Wall St. before getting his MBA and starting Urban Tailgate with friend and CIO Chris Vander Poel. The self-funded company has four employees.