Tailgating is an essential and fun college experience — providing the tables and other equipment necessary to tailgate is not.
It was with this in mind that USC alumna Jennifer LaGrow and her family founded Tailgater Concierge, a hassle-free service providing set-up and breakdown of tailgating equipment on game days. Since its 2014 launch at USC, the service has spread to six other campuses, including the University of Mississippi, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Michigan, Stanford University, Northwestern University and UCLA.
LaGrow and her husband remained season ticket-holders when they moved to Chicago in 2002. However, tailgating proved to be difficult when living out of town.
“It just wasn’t as fun,” LaGrow said. “I hosted a tailgate for a USC vs. Notre Dame game, and I was happy just to pay someone to get the tent and tailgating chairs, but it wasn’t possible. You could call for party supplies, but when you’re coming in for a weekend, it was just a total hassle. We were like, ‘Boy, someone should do this for a living.’”
Tailgater Concierge arranges exclusive space outside of the Coliseum on game days for their clients’ tailgates. The company is the exclusive tailgating partner of USC Athletics.
There are two different packages to choose from: the field goal package, designed for 10 people, and the touchdown package, designed for 11 to 20 people. Both packages include the reserved space, tents, chairs, coolers and ice. Food can be ordered or brought by the customer, as grills are also available for rental.
“Our team sets it all up for you four hours before game time and we break down at kickoff,” LaGrow said. “We just started working with USC Catering this year. You can go on their website and order from venues on campus like Seeds and Lemonade, and they’ll deliver to our tailgate area so we can give it to the customer.”
John Schneider, a Tailgater Concierge customer, expressed his love for the hospitality of the company.
“The best part of it is that I can walk away and I don’t have to schlep anything to my car,” Schneider said. “The convenience of walking to the game at the end, not worrying about the equipment, is the best part of it all. Jennie and her family just know what they’re doing.”
LaGrow graduated from USC in 1988 with an bachelor’s in business administration and in 1992 with a masters of business administration. Her husband also graduated from USC 1988, her daughter graduated in 2014 and her son will graduate in 2018. LaGrow’s children play a great role in the management and execution of the service on game day.
“On game day, they are the team leaders,” LaGrow said. “Last year we were still living in Chicago, so my daughter was the team leader for both USC and UCLA. She would be playing hostess all day long.”
LaGrow expressed her wishes of creating a business that her children could eventually take over.
“My goal would be someday to be able to pass this on,” LaGrow said. “My daughter, a Marshall graduate, [has told me], ‘In two years, I want to be able to come run Tailgater with you.’ That’s my vision, to create a legacy for the rest of the Trojans in my family.”
Though the company has already seen many repeat customers, social media will play a big role in the company’s future marketing strategy, as its main challenge currently is making the tailgating service well-known. LaGrow mentioned how it’s a new category and service that people are not conditioned to look for.
“Our biggest struggle right now is to let people know that this exists,” LaGrow said. “Once they do, they’re like ‘Oh my god, this is the best thing ever.’”