This Columbus Startup Is Streamlining the Customer Experience in Public Venues

How ZED Digital’s platform is making crowd management more efficient

People enjoy a concert

No one likes to get stuck waiting in line. Whether you’re attending a concert, a sports event, or waiting to get on the bus for your morning commute, crowd management for big events or public transportation usually consists of buying a ticket, then waiting in a queue to scan that ticket for entry. But what if you could skip the line and enter an event with no hassle? ZIG, the platform from Columbus startup ZED Digital, is simplifying event entry and improving crowd management for venues and attendees.

“We designed this technology so that people could enter events or board buses with their phone in their pocket and without scanning anything,” President Sumithra Jagannath said. “We created sensors that operate as ticket checkers, so as people start boarding or enter a space, the sensors check each phone, purse, and bag to enable ticket validation. This way people don’t have to stop, put down their bags, and scan their ticket.”

With the onset of the pandemic, the use of the platform on public transit took off as a hands-free, efficient way to board buses while ensuring fares were being paid. With that validation from riders, the startup turned to other spaces that could benefit from its technology. Jagannath and her team found that it could not only shorten entrance lines, but also eliminate wait times that occur inside venues.

“People wanted a more streamlined way of getting into venues, like sports arenas and other attractions,” Jagannath said. “We started looking into those markets and making adjustments to the product. We conducted pilot testing and helped venues with thousands of attendees enter with a line-free experience. Inside the event, we were able to shorten lineups at the bar and concessions from 40 minutes to less than three minutes with the app.”

Recently, the startup was awarded Rev1 Ventures’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grant, funding that will help ZED Digital in driving its current momentum forward. Jagannath said the platform’s relationship with Rev1, a regional partner of the Ohio Third Frontier, has been key to its success.

“Back when we were introducing our platform in public transit, we sought Rev1’s help with raising funding and became an engaged business with them,” she said. “Our advisor told us we should apply for this grant, so we were thrilled when we were selected. This will really help us to keep operations going as we head into our next round of funding.”

Large-scale funding is not the only impressive achievement from the startup recently. In 2022, ZED Digital won multiple major international awards, one of which was Ticketing Technology of the Year at the Digital Transport Ticketing Global Conference. With such prestigious global recognition, Jagannath is looking forward to how the startup’s success will inspire even more innovation in the ticketing industry, in Ohio and beyond.

“It’s been a great benefit to attend conferences and be recognized for achieving that award,” she said. “Going forward, we’d like to work with even more venues to pilot our platform in an operational fashion to show how seamless it is. If we can work with venues around Columbus and in Ohio to implement and adopt our technology, we could really serve as a case study for the rest of the world.”

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