SheerID automates discounts for military and college buyers

Software used to verify enrollment planning moves into venue ticketing world

  • by Mary Wade Burnside
  • Published: March 27, 2013

When a theater or a sports team offers a discount to senior citizens or military veterans, what was intended to reward a customer sometimes can take more effort than it is worth.

“So many venues that offer special discounts or free tickets to military service members and families or students, most, if not all, of those tickets, in terms of customer experience, means that you come here on the day of the event, wait in line at the box office, show an ID and gain access to a special price,” said Jake Weatherly, co-founder and CEO of SheerID.

In existence for about a year now, SheerID gives clients access to an increasing array of documents that can verify whether or not a potential client is a student, a teacher, a member of the military or a member of whatever group has been offered a discount or a special deal. 

“What we’ve done is help our clients selling tickets online and via mobile apps so they can prove someone’s eligibility instantly and allow someone to use their mobile device and not wait in line.”

So far, clients include retailers like Fathead, but SheerID has begun the move into venue-based, ticket-issuing operations such as sports and entertainment.

“Our database is our fundamental pivot point in terms of our service and our secret sauce,” Weatherly said. 

Weatherly and his business partners, David Shear, co-founder and president; and Marci Hansen, co-founder and chief marketing officer, have a software background and struck up the idea for SheerID dealing with businesses that wanted to give customers discounts but lost sales because of the time it would take to check out credentials.

“We saw that as a broken model, (frustration) ends up culminating in lost sales.”

The idea behind SheerID is not to challenge a customer’s claim to be a student or a teacher or a member of the military, Weatherly said, but instead to make purchases easier for them. 

“The other thing is we didn’t want to require a Social Security number,” he added. “We didn’t want to go outside the comfort zone of the average customer. We didn’t want to add discomfort to the shopping process.”

SheerID has negotiated for files from a variety of entities, from universities and public school systems to the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Education. SheerID has access to information on almost 20 million enrolled students and almost 30 million active duty military members and veterans.

“And we are constantly rolling out other groups,” he added.

Some relationships yield a larger number of records than others. For instance, a relationship with the University of California system can mean access to documents for about 350,000 undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members and employees.

Gaps do exist, however, Weatherly said – about seven percent of college and universities are not on the SheerID system. 

In the instance a discount "doesn’t go through, we offer to have (the student or military member) upload a document for review,” Weatherly said. “We have a document review team that turns those around on average in two to four minutes.

“That’s an area we’ve looked at as a necessity in order to have 100-percent coverage.”

When SheerID takes on a client, their engineers work with the venue as well as that venue’s ticketing platform in order to implement the system, Weatherly said. For now, though, the venues are the clients.

So far, SheerID has 28 customers and about 20 in various phases of implementation.

Dan DeMato, president of FutureTix, a consulting firm whose customers include the New York Mets, has touted SheerID to his clients.

"That’s a feather in my cap if I have a client and I can bring them a product that keeps them happy,” DeMato said. “My job is to find them things that work so they can sell more tickets.”

Interviewed for this article: Jake Weatherly, (855) 743-3743; Dan DeMato, (516) 608-0626  

  • by Mary Wade Burnside
  • Published: March 27, 2013