TeamPages wins over coaches and parents
If e-mail lists haven’t already spelled the end of the parent telephone tree, TeamPages—a Web site developed by a Vancouver-based company—certainly does. By combining group communication tools with social-networking features, TeamPages makes it easy for people involved in amateur sports to stay in touch and informed.
Launched in January 2007, TeamPages allows managers of youth and adult sports teams to post schedules, rosters, and news on-line, as well as send announcements to the entire team with a single click. Players can use the site to share statistics, photos, and video, and send messages to each other.
Nick Ross isn’t sure how he managed three youth soccer teams in Victoria before signing up for TeamPages.
“I was flying by the seat of my pants,” Ross told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “It was calling on Friday to make sure everybody was at the right field at the right time on Saturday.”
Ross has replaced countless e-mails, phone calls, and photocopied schedules with a TeamPages account for each of his three teams. He created profiles for the teams in 10 minutes, and has uploaded schedules, maps, and even a video explanation of the offside rule.
Jeff Quon, whose son plays with the Vancouver Thunderbirds bantam hockey team, told the Straight that parents like him have come to rely on the site’s calendar.
“Most parents are Internet users, but are not thoroughly computer-literate,” Quon said by phone.
With TeamPages, parents can access information about all of their kids’ teams—provided the teams each have an account—from one page. They need only click on a link to get current schedules, and maps are automatically attached to addresses.
TeamPages founders Mike Tan and Adam Palmblad sat down with the Straight at an eatery in Yaletown, where their office is located. The two were being followed by a CBC camera crew for an episode of Fortune Hunters that’s expected to air early in 2009.
According to Tan, CEO of TeamPages, the site was inspired by two things: university professors and Facebook. While studying at the University of Victoria, he found it difficult to manage the soccer team he was captaining. His professors used software that helped them send group e-mails to students, and he and his friends had Facebook accounts. Combining the features of the two, he reasoned, would make his job easier.
“The browser is a great way to deliver software,” said Palmblad, who’s the site’s lead developer. “You can deliver an excellent user experience without having to worry about discs or printing materials.”
TeamPages operates under the “freemium” business model. The free version of the site offers basic functions. Teams can pay $53.95 per year for premium features, more customization options, and the ability to upload more files, or $65.95 per year for all that and no advertising on their profile.
According to Tan, revenue growth will come from adding more sports teams and organizations, advertising, and selling goods such as team uniforms, T-shirts, equipment, and trophies.
Palmblad said that he and Tan make decisions on adding features to the site based on customers’ requests. A recent update made submitting an e-mail address optional when signing up players; parents had complained that children who don’t have e-mail addresses couldn’t use the site.
“The key is dealing with parents, who want things to be simple,” Tan said.
And secure. Last season, one of Ross’s teams—a group of 13-year-old boys—embraced its TeamPages profile, using it to post photos from games, have on-line conversations, and plan activities. Ross says that protecting his players’ privacy is essential.
Keeping personal information safe is also important for older sports teams. Russ Layton, a player-manager for Victoria’s Castaways Juniors over-35 soccer team, noted that his team has its own Web site but uses TeamPages to share pictures and exchange comments.
“Everyone is logging on once or twice a day to see what new content is up there,” he said.
Layton likes the fact that he can use TeamPages to send reminders to players via e-mail and text messaging. He still gets e-mails from players asking about the schedule, but he simply tells them to check the TeamPages profile.
“It’s saved me 20 or more e-mails a week,” he said, noting that adult players are worse than kids at remembering times and locations. “You’ve got to baby-sit them, too.”
For team managers, players, and parents, TeamPages is a win-win proposition.
“With TeamPages, I can manage three teams and can make sure parents are kept abreast of what’s going on,” Ross said. “It makes me look good.”