With FanX mobile platform, Omaha company From Now On saves the game
The immediate future of college sporting contests may be hazy due to COVID-19, but there’s been no slowdown at mobile app development company From Now On. In fact, the global pandemic has fast-tracked the Omaha company’s development and roll-out of features to its FanX™ platform for sports-starved fans across the country. CEO Sue Thaden said…
The immediate future of college sporting contests may be hazy due to COVID-19, but there’s been no slowdown at mobile app development company From Now On.
In fact, the global pandemic has fast-tracked the Omaha company’s development and roll-out of features to its FanX™ platform for sports-starved fans across the country.
CEO Sue Thaden said she doesn’t see barriers, but opportunities. Her first response when live sports began to be canceled in March was to gather her team and ask, “Now what? What is possible now that wasn’t before?”
It’s this nimble mindset that has allowed From Now On’s team of around 16 employees to develop mobile apps that complement live sporting events and garnered them customers of all levels — from Division I universities, like Ohio State, to DII and DIII schools, as well as high schools and other youth sporting leagues.
Since SPN last profiled From Now On in 2018, the company has seen several areas of growth, Thaden said. Its flagship product, FanX, is a marketing and communications platform for sports and events. About 18 months ago, they rolled out rewards to the product suite to encourage student attendance and engagement at events and games.
“You don’t have a college event without raving student sections,” Thaden said, explaining that the rewards product has a 77 percent adoption rate among From Now On’s customer base.
In August, the team rolled out a new product to its customers — FanX Trivia. It’s a way athletic departments can engage fans during a time with few live events, Thaden said. The trivia contests interface with the rewards portion of the app and has a built-in leaderboard to encourage social connection.
“Our responsibility in this community is to shore up some awesome things to help these schools reach people now,” Thaden said.
Beyond the platform’s offerings, the company recently passed the 1 million user milestone. Thaden said hitting the milestone reflects not only on the company’s platforms, but also the colleges, universities and schools they partner with.
“We are proud for our schools,” she said of the audience growth. “Our success is if our schools are successful. There’s a super close alignment there, which makes it really fun and easy to stay on track together.”
And that customer base is growing. So far in 2020, the company has gained more schools than they did in all of 2019.
From Now On doesn’t just go after DI collegiate athletic programs — they hope to serve the entire college market. For example, three years ago, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics selected the Omaha company to build apps for eight of the NAIA’s championships.
And then they’ve also seen growth in the high school market (picking up schools in California and Colorado) as well as the minor league market, which Thaden said has been fun to work with.
And perhaps the proudest achievement for a company from Omaha? The NCAA selected From Now on to build apps for six nationwide championships, ranging from volleyball to wrestling to the women’s Final Four and the Men’s College World Series.
“There’s a bit of hometown pride (with the CWS),” Thaden said.
Thaden first realized the severity of the pandemic’s effect on sports when a contact with the NCAA called her in mid-March. They had to work together to make quick strategic decisions on what to do with the championship apps, which were live, now that the events were most likely canceled. She likened the first few weeks to driving in the fog — you have to keep moving but can’t chart a far-flung destination.
Immediately, Thaden’s focus was to keep the team safe, positive and productive.
“You’ve got to be valuable and choose your attitude,” she said. “We want everyone to feel safe; we want everyone to feel engaged; and we need to feel part of something.”
A cross-team meeting helped flesh out ideas to keep fans engaged and sponsors happy, leading to the development of FanX Trivia.
Thaden believes apps like FanX will be crucial to keeping people safe when sports return.
“Games will come back,” she said. “When? We don’t know. But fans are hungry. They still want to be connected.”
The trend towards contactless gameday has sped up in the last few months, she said. The FNO team is making FanX as robust as possible in this regard, integrating with digital parking passes, tickets and programs, and offering fans the ability to purchase concessions and merchandise from the safety and comfort of their seats.
“We can’t prevent a fan from touching a handrail, but we can do a lot to hopefully have enough people say, ‘I feel pretty safe here,’” Thaden said.
So what’s next for From Now On? Video and social gamification, as well as strengthening business partnerships, Thaden said.
In April, the company landed a partnership with PrestoSports, a digital technology provider for college athletics with around 1,400 customers. This is a huge growth opportunity for From Now On, Thaden said, as Fan X has become the white-labeled app in PrestoSports’ product suite.
Whatever the future brings, the key attributes of excellence, innovation and treating customers as partners will continue to pave the way at From Now On.
“We’re wired to create great experiences and connections,” Thaden said.
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