As we saw at the second annual GeekWire Sports Tech Summit last week, there is plenty of opportunity for entrepreneurs and engineers to come up with new tech-powered products and services that serve the massive sports industry.
Much of that excitement carried over to the Seattle Sports Tech Hackathon this past weekend, where six teams spent more than 36 hours coming up with innovative ideas that ranged from an Airbnb for sports fans to a prediction app for soccer matches.
The winning group was Sportxts, a real-time sports news notification service powered by text messages that pulls live data from Sportradar and is powered by Zipwhip’s business texting platform. The idea behind Sportxts is to give fans an easy, app-less way to get updates on their favorite team or player. It lets users pick from different sports, teams, and players, in addition to which type of text notifications they’d like to receive — news, game updates, stats, weekly leaders, etc.
“This enables people to receive sports data texts in a manageable form so they don’t have to look it up,” said Jake Grajewski, one of three Seattle-based Zipwhip employees apart of the team.
Sportxts differentiates itself from other mobile sports news services since it does not require a separate app to be downloaded and offers a faster way of finding information than a Google search query. The idea follows a recent trend toward text-based chatbots, many of which provide e-commerce and customer support. Facebook, for example, has a chatbot platform that lets businesses offer automated customer support via its Messenger platform. Seattle-based startups like ReplyYes and Peach have built entire businesses around text message communication, proving how the age-old way of sending information to one another via mobile devices — SMS — still provides value.
“Making it really easy for fans to immediately access this information and continue to access it without opening up something else is important,” noted Matcherino CEO Grant Farwell, who helped judge the pitches with Seattle Storm Corporate Partnerships Manager Alyse LaHue and Seattle University professor Anna Gordon.
Sportxts won a $20,000 API from Sportradar and field access to an upcoming Sounders FC match where they’ll have a chance to meet Adrian Hanauer, the club’s majority owner.
Here’s a rundown of the other winners and participating teams. The second annual Seattle Sports Tech Hackathon was put on by the Seattle Sports Tech Meetup and co-hosted by the Seattle Sounders FC and Sportradar.
Best Product: SportsMe
A mobile app that integrates with a calendar to help sports fans track team schedules and find out who is playing at what time.
Best Business: HomeGame
A sharing economy platform similar to Airbnb that lets sports fans open up their homes for watch parties.
An app that provides granular real-time notifications about teams, players, and games.
A platform that gives professional athletes a way to share how they exercise, eat, and prepare for competition with amateurs who want an inside look at the day-to-day life of a pro.
A sports prediction app that lets fans pick where they think a free kick will end up during a soccer match, for example, and earn points based off how well they can predict game action.
Editor’s note: I help organize the Seattle Sports Tech Meetup and Seattle Sports Tech Hackathon. The Seattle Sports Tech Meetup hosts monthly meetings with talks, demonstrations, and networking opportunities.