SBJ/July 2-8, 2012/In Depth
Published July 2, 2012, Page 20
What they do: Provide online registration services and fee payment processing for teams, leagues and tournaments, as well as background checks for coaches and volunteers.
Recent moves: Opened a regional office in Phoenix to serve California and the Western United States.
What’s next: More partnerships with firms to create premium services such as anti-concussion training and computerized testing for player performance.
In 2002, Matt Scarchilli and John Haller digitized the registration process for their local youth soccer league, then started a company around the service the following year. By 2008, when Anthony Bruno took over as CEO, SportsSignup.com was still running operations out of local coffee shops in upstate New York.
Bruno, then a 15-year veteran in Silicon Valley’s tech startup scene, doubled the company’s fees to bring them into the market’s middle/high end. Simultaneously, the company signed a deal with data aggregation company ChoicePoint (now LexisNexis) in 2007 to provide background checks. The checks are now required for all coaches and volunteers in New York state and, according to Bruno, are one of the company’s best-selling services. The increased revenue and new service helped the company expand its business, primarily through word of mouth.
“Someone would register their child to play baseball, and that same someone would happen to be the registrar for the local lacrosse league,” Bruno said. “There is certainly a network effect that takes place, and this tends to be regional.”
Currently, SportsSignup.com works with about 2,000 leagues and tournaments, and processes more than 1 million individual transactions annually. The primary service is to run the basics of sports registration: process fees, pick teams, create schedules, etc. Bruno said revenue has grown 30 percent to 35 percent annually since 2007.
It also offers premium services for leagues, such as data capture to monitor concussions and other injuries, and to track a player’s performance progression.
“Anybody who has experienced the old way of registration immediately sees there is value in what we do,” Bruno said. “If you can see it, you’re likely to become a customer.”
Fred Dreier is a writer based in New York.