When die-hard Sounder fan Scott Sweeney (UW MBA ’04) had difficulty finding great coverage of his beloved MLS team, he did what any self-proclaimed “sports nerd” would do: he designed an algorithm to search the web far and wide that would deliver the most informative news updates and the most interesting blogs to him. Several months later, Scott unveiled his project, Sportingwell, to family and friends, expanding his algorithm to include more sports and more teams. Two years later, Scott’s coding now includes over 20,000 teams in 50+ sports.
Sportingwell is a tool for the sports fan who seeks updates and insights on their favorite teams that they follow. National sports sites only cover mainstream sports, while local outlets only cover news that is relevant to the local teams (and still not every local team, as Scott was having trouble with the Sounders). Sportingwell finds not only national and local sports stories, but brings in information from local TV and radio, sporting federations, team sites, athlete blogs, and equipment makers and sponsors. In essence, it is a unique combination of comprehensive material with laser-focus content that is delivered straight to the customer. Users select the teams and sports they wish to follow and then can get updates one of three ways: through a daily email digest, a simple App or through the Sportingwell website which provides up-to-the minute notifications. Signing up for Sportingwell is free, as is downloading their app.
Who is the customer? Right now, it is an extended network of Scott’s family and friends, about 200 users strong. Many of the original users passed it on to their friends and family and said “This is a great tool; you have to try this and it will change how you follow sports.” In turn, those users passed it onto more people. While this validation method is effective, it’s not fast growing. Scott’s short term goal is to reach 10,000 users. He estimates that 10,000 users will not only help build visibility for his product, but will also lure in potential VC money. His longer term goal is to sell the technology. Understanding that email marketing is becoming more popular and more lucrative and knowing that he has an extremely high read rate, Sportingwell on its own could be quite profitable as the number of user grows. While any user will help improve the product, Scott notes that his 57% of sports fans are age 35 and above and follow, on average, 6 sports teams, three of which are easily followed through traditional methods. Therefore, he has quite a large market after which he can go, but needs a stronger marketing plan to grow his readership.
While the success of Sportingwell is yet to be determine, Scott’s dedication to Sportingwell will always be a worthy venture. As a Seattle born and raised Division 1 athlete turned – technology focused professional – turned MBA – turned consultant – turned Entrepreneur, Scott loves finding new ways to solve problems and I would argue that he has done this with his program. Finding adequate sports coverage may not be a big problem for most, but I think once users discover Sportingwell, they’ll wonder how they ever followed sports without it.
You can sign-up for Sportingwell here: http://sportingwell.com/