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Sean Chang smiles for headshot in
Sean Chang, RST senior, poses for a headshot.

RST student startup built to help venues stay booked

Atop the usual final exams and projects, University of Illinois senior Sean Chang has been charting a different path for his final year in the Recreation, Sport and Tourism program—by building his own business. 

With the help of mentors and the entrepreneurial ecosystem at the U. of I., Chang is growing “DoubleSpot,” a digital platform designed to help venues maximize their booking potential. 

The business officially launched this summer, and already partners with venues such as the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Bedford Park’s Wintrust Sports Complex, and campus cafe BrewLab. 

“When we talk about video, we talk about YouTube—my long-term goal is when people think of venues or events, I want them to think about DoubleSpot,” Chang said. 

The senior’s ambitious idea has found catalysts through the iVenture Accelerator, an entrepreneurial bootcamp designed to kickstart U. of I. students’ startups, and in guidance from RST faculty members, such as Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Affairs and former RST department head Carla Santos, who’ve dispensed their industry expertise and helped Chang connect with potential clients. 

“[Sean] embodies that entrepreneurial spirit of RST,” Santos said. “We’re constantly reminding our students that while we are training you to go into this field, we’re training you to take risks, to reimagine what the field could look like.” 

Chang grew up in Taiwan, but moved to California when he was a junior in high school when his father got a job at tech giant Nvidia. 

“It was a new beginning for me,” he said. “Moving to a new country was completely different for sure, like culture, friends, school, everything.” 

He fortunately joined his high school’s varsity basketball team, which helped him integrate within his new home, find friends and grow his love for sport. 

When time came to apply for college, Chang wasn’t sure what he wanted for his future. He wanted to balance his desire for a career in the sports industry with the stability his family sought for him, he said. Chang applied for sports management programs, with the United States’ huge entertainment market in mind. 

“There’s not a lot of Asian Americans in this field and I want to prove that if other people can do it, why can’t I do it? I think this kind of mentality has always been pushing me,” Chang said. 

Illinois became his lead college option for its global reputation. Many famous UIUC graduates from his native Taiwan, such as YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, had cited the school as a powerful starting point. He went for the RST program in the College of Applied Health Sciences and obtained his family’s blessing by minoring in computer science. 

“The U. of I.’s kind of a perfect match for me,” Chang said. “RST gives us a lot of opportunity to do what we like, and the faculty and professors are super supportive.”

Sean Chang (left) speaks with Steve Miller, a UIUC alum and iVenture donor/

Chang quickly made connections with faculty, including retired RST adjunct instructor Don Hardin, who had more than 30 years of NCAA volleyball coaching experience at the University of Louisville and the University of Illinois, where he was the head coach of the women's team.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit during Chang’s freshman year and changed his course. He took a gap year to visit National Taiwan University, where he studied computer science and clarified his career goals. 

“I figured entrepreneurship could be a good fit for me, I have the sports background, CS knowledge, and something we can bounce together,” he said. Plus, “U. of I. has a really good entrepreneurship ecosystem.” 

With more professional knowledge, Chang started to dip his toes into the startup world. After returning to the U. of I., he engineered “Courtero,” a community basketball app designed to help players find games near them. 

In 2022, he landed a summer job with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a business strategy analytics intern—essentially helping the team find more ways to generate revenue. 

His idea for DoubleSpot first flashed in the walls of Dodger Stadium. Since the stadium only hosts 81 home games per season, he thought, what could all this square footage be used for in the downtime? 

“Imagine people want to have their wedding in center field, or have their kids at a VIP lounge?” Chang said. 

He returned to campus with the idea fresh in his mind, finding early users for DoubleSpot in area park districts and local vendor CRS Hospitality, which owns several venues in the Champaign-Urbana area. 

The pitch: For a small vendor fee, businesses can use DoubleSpot to drive users and event-planners to use the promoted venues on the site, or hopefully “double” their “spot’s” utilization rate, as Chang put it. 

Landing a spot in the recent iVenture Accelerator cohort alongside several other student startups was “such a privilege,” Chang said. With the program’s extra time, resources, and mentoring opportunities, his team at DoubleSpot has catapulted its efforts.

“Sean and his team were culture-setters over the summer,” said Mayank Mehta, assistant director of entrepreneurial education at iVenture. “At every given time, you could see their team focused on developing their product. Whether it was during lunch, morning updates, and even after people had left for the day—someone was coding away. 

“A lot of people's passion shines in the way they talk about their idea, but Sean and DoubleSpot's passion shines through in how they work on their idea.” 

What’s driven the startup’s early success is a “customer-centric approach,” Mehta said, which solved a direct problem these vendors were facing. As for finding these vendors, RST faculty such as Santos have been a valuable resource to his team. 

The Wintrust Sports Complex in Bedford Park has been an important early adopter of DoubleSpot, using the service to help digitalize its venue management process, Chang said. The complex is run by Chief Business Officer Joe Ronovsky, a two-time graduate of the U of I’s RST program.   

Santos and Chang’s conversations have revolved around the ‘human component’ of building a business: how can you sell this product and what will you bring to the table that others won’t? Who from the RST alumni base could help him out? 

Chang has a sponge-like ability to absorb information from mentors’ meetings, quickly implementing important slices of advice into his business, Santos said. 

And yet, “Sean doesn’t really need mentoring,” Santos said. “He’s very self-directed and he knows what he’s doing. In our meetings, I hope I’ve given him as much as I’ve gotten out of it, to be quite honest.”

“He wants to deliver a product that makes a difference in not just the operation side of things but building a sense of community through using spaces more efficiently.”  

To contact Sean Chang, email

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