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Blackboard founder seeks to transform another industry

Stephen Gilfus, a founder of Washington-based campus-card provider Blackboard, and Ron Dinwiddie, a former Blackboard senior executive familiar with the ID card and financial transaction business, have launched Event Innovation, a company aimed at developing software for sports and entertainment venues.

The new company, headquartered in Washington, is concentrating on the way sports, entertainment and performing arts venues interact and communicate with their customers. Event Innovation will develop products that increase a venue’s visibility into its customers’ ticket purchasing, event attendance and in-venue spending and will allow them to obtain detailed information about attendees.

By leveraging the resulting information, sports and entertainment organizations can create targeted campaigns and promotional offers for event attendees while providing greater on-site benefits and conveniences during the event.

“We are in an unprecedented time period in which Internet technologies have the ability to create better connections for organizations and their customers,” said Gilfus, chairman and CEO. “We have identified a unique opportunity to provide greater conveniences for attendees while giving venues insight to their most valuable customers through the combination of proven technologies. The ability to apply proven technologies to the live entertainment industry makes Event Innovation an exciting opportunity.”

“This is possibly the greatest time in entertainment venues history,” said Dinwiddie, president and COO. “Technology today can provide all sorts of creative ways to enhance the overall experience of attending an event … and we fully expect Event Innovation to emerge as the leader in that industry.”

Prior to Event Innovation, Gilfus was a founder of Blackboard, a leader in eLearning and educational software and services. He was a key executive in the development of Blackboard that was born out of a business plan he wrote while at Cornell University. He is a software designer, inventor of Blackboard’s products and author of “The Educational Technology Framework,” a methodology used by hundreds of academic institutions and some of the world’s publishers.

Both Gilfus and Dinwiddie left Blackboard in late 2007/early 2008 to explore new opportunities. Event Innovation plans to launch its products in selected test markets with venues and attendees beginning this fall.

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