Keeping track of amateur, youth, and high school sports — as a parent, player, or fan — has long been a crapshoot. It’s usually difficult or impossible for fans or local media to keep solid track of how teams and players are performing, and the information is usually sparse and/or old. Especially for sports that aren’t football.Enter a NYC-based startup called Fungo Media, whose product — “GameChanger” — is taking advantage of modern mobile apps and data connections to built a really powerful, really neat scorekeeping and stat-tracking service.
How does it work?
- Coaches or other team representatives keep score of games (baseball and softball for now, basketball coming soon) using the free GameChanger iPhone/iPod touch/iPad app. The scorekeeping functions are easy, intuitive, and touch-based, but surprisingly powerful.
- The data gets sent to the GameChanger servers, which tabulates live scoring and statistical data, including box and line scores.
- Coaches and players get a robust stats package for their team (no more Excel spreadsheets or hand-tabulated box scores).
- Superfans and parents can buy premium access to expanded scoring data, real-time SMS and email alerts, etc.
- Media companies can partner with Fungo Media, embedding GameChanger scoring widgets for local teams onto their sites. Fungo does a revenue-share for media partners that help sign up premium subscribers.
Fungo Media cofounder and CEO Ted Sullivan says the company has attracted about 5,000 teams to try the app so far.
That’s a good start, but for this product to have legs, it’s obviously going to have to keep growing. There’s a strong network effect for a service like this, so the most important thing it can do now is continue to build out the product and sign up as many teams/coaches as possible.
The good news is that there is a real need for this sort of service. I spent a lot of hours during high school in the late ’90s preparing and faxing results of my school’s baseball games to the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, which would have been a lot easier and more powerful with something like GameChanger.
This is the sort of service that, if it becomes popular enough, could potentially get picked up by a company like STATS Inc., Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, Fox, or anyone else interested in amateur sports. (There is also already competition here — ESPN has loaned its name to an iPhone app called iScore, for example.)
The year-and-a-half-old Fungo Media is up to five employees now. Among them, CEO Sullivan is a former minor league baseball player for the Cleveland Indians and five of his angel investors are big-league baseball players. Cofounder and CTO Kiril Savino used to work at DoubleClick, and staffer Calvin Kuo used to lead the user interface team at Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the league’s (very successful) Internet arm.
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