The Omaha-based company gives high school and small college sports fans the Jumbotron experience. But it’s their cloud platform that’s really exciting.
Veteran entrepreneurs Gordon Whitten, David Sutter, and Chad Bokowski founded ScoreVision in 2015 when they decided to tackle the problem of outdated scoreboards in high schools and colleges.
“As an entrepreneur, you go where there’s an important problem you can solve well,” said Whitten. “The fact that scoreboard technology is decades old is crazy. This, to me, is a gigantic problem.”
The three co-founders have been building tech companies in Omaha for over a decade, including Income Dynamics, which was purchased by Intuit in 2003 for $10.3 million and Sojern in 2007, which is now based in San Francisco but continues to have an Omaha office.
“It is fun to be finally working on something that we’re passionate about,” said Whitten. “This could be the best company that I’ve ever been a part of. It’s that kind of potential. The industry is huge. The potential is huge.”
How ScoreVision works
ScoreVision is entering a market in which many high school scoreboards are decades old.
“The scoreboard industry is so archaic. They’re still using technology that’s from 30 years ago,” said Sutter. “The bulbs have got a little finer, but ultimately it’s still those metal box scoreboards.”
ScoreVision is clear that they are a software company, not a hardware company. But it’s their custom media board design that provides the gateway to their cloud platform.
The installation price for a ScoreVision media board is, obviously, more expensive that a non-digital metal scoreboard, but is right around the same price (and sometimes cheaper) as their competitors, with significantly more features.
To help off set the initial cost of the system, ScoreVision manages paid advertising directly to the boards without the school even having to think about it.
“We are offering a service to help schools raise revenue to pay for the boards and also raise funds for the school even when the boards are paid for,” said Sutter.
ScoreVision provides a content library complete with animation packages. But what really excites the company is the ability for students to create their own custom content. The platform is designed to be compatible with Adobe programs, which allows students to start creating content for the big screen from day one.
“I just had a meeting with Hastings College this morning where we are installing,” said Sutter. “We don’t have the boards out there yet, and they are already engaging their kids to create content. They are already doing green screens with their players for their lineups.”
The platform also includes a fan app that will allow spectators to interact with the game on a whole new level, including social network integration. There are other spectator apps in the market (notably in the Silicon Prairie region From Now On and Fanstreamm) but this app will be full integrated into the scoreboard, player stats and camera systems.
Beyond the scoreboard
At heart, ScoreVision is about creating that “big league” experience for student athletes and fans, with things like tunnel walk videos and athlete profiles. It’s also about creating educational opportunities for students in technology and design in schools across the nation.
But as with so many startups, the real potential value comes from the data in the cloud. From the ScoreVision platform coaches will have immediate access to detailed statistics from every game. Players will be able to track their own stats. League-wide, season-long statistics will be available as more teams adopt the platform.
Even better, all these stats can be crunched and displayed dynamically on the scoreboard as the game is underway, from a simple tap on a tablet.
“That’s the real difference between what’s already out there from the companies who’ve made scoreboards for the last 50 years and what we have,” said Corey Spitzer, Lead Engineer. “The spectator sees this complete production but [there’s an] ease of use on the scorekeeper and producer side.”
Add the fan app, and fans can upload photos and video, tagging them to specific players and game events.
“You can literally have grandparents download memory books,” said Sutter. “That’s where this can go.”
ScoreVision is working with a startup based in Israel that does automatic ball-tracking cameras. Connecting automated video to the scoreboards will allow for a host of features, including instant replay and video analytics for coaches.
“[You will be able to say,] ‘I want to track all my rebounds.’ When we start tracking at that stat level, you can have all those historical clips,” said Jake Chapman, Vice President of Strategy & Finance.
Put the pieces together–a jaw-dropping fan experience with an easy-to-use interface, curriculum opportunities, revenue generation, league statistics, automated video and cloud-based video analytics, memory books–and it’s easy to see why the ScoreVision team is excited.
And even with all that, they haven’t even begun to tap their platform’s potential, which will also handle conferences, concerts, assemblies, graduations–all of which provide new opportunities for student-generated content, attendance tracking, advertising, and school branding.
Watch this space
In coming months the company will be installing media boards across the country from North Dakota to Arizona.
“We’re selling every day now,” said Whitten. “We have lots and lots of installs over the next six months.”
The company of 28 employees is looking to rapidly grow their team with more developers and designers, which means outgrowing their current offices and expanding onto another floor in the Hayneedle building where they are located.
“We’ve started four companies [in Omaha] and people ask if it’s hard to get employees,” said Whitten. “It hasn’t been a problem so far for me. I think the labor pool here is fantastic.”
The company is also in the middle of a fundraising round that will close soon.
“This has been the easiest company I’ve ever raised money for,” said Whitten. “I think the reason is that everybody gets it. It’s so simple to understand. It’s such a visual product. And it’s something everyone can relate to.”
Whitten has received a lot of interest from investors.
“I don’t anticipate it being a challenge to raise as much capital as we need for this business,” said Whitten.
Ryan Pendell is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.