The Story of Pointstreak
The rise of Pointstreak Sports Technologies from its start up beginnings to a leader in the growing sports tech industry can be told as the story of two men who met through a chance encounter: Two visionaries whose paths crossed and ultimately produced a company that would forever change the way sports organizations operate and the way participants enjoy their sports content.
A Seed is Planted
Thunder Bay, Ontario, 1983: A young Aaron Bishop and his team mates from his peewee hockey team are hanging around the local rink after a game; eager and impatient. Finally, the league manager comes out of his office and starts posting sheets of paper on the board. The kids crowd around to see who’s leading the league in scoring.
“They missed some of my goals” says 12 year old Aaron. He knows he should have precisely 14 goals, not the 11 listed on the board. But even though its already half-way through the season and the stats are wrong, he’s still happy that someone posted something. Last year, the guy who did the stats moved away, so there wasn’t any stats whatsoever that year. Looking back now, Aaron doesn’t blame them. This was before even spreadsheets, so tallying up standings and scoring leaders was time consuming and prone to error; not to mention a thankless job.
Waiting for the Right Time
Flash forward to 1999: After a successful career in competitive cycling, Aaron graduates with a business degree from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. Highly competitive by nature, he still loves playing hockey and still loves to see if his name is near the top of scoring leaders. Watching him on the ice, if he broke into a low, wide stance and pulled the puck out wide away from the defenceman, you knew a goal was likely on its way.
Technology was also converging at a breakneck speed and the beginning of the dotcom boom (and bust) was under way. The Internet was still in its infancy and some of today’s titans – such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc – didn’t even exist yet. From his youth in Thunder Bay to playing adult rec hockey at UBC, Aaron didn’t need any market research to tell him the demand was there for fast and accurate hockey stats. Now he sensed that the technology was ready.
Pointstreak is Born
Aaron quit his job, assembled some friends and acquaintances and founded a corporation then called “Pointstreak.com Inc.”, later changed to “Pointstreak Sports Technologies Inc.” Their concept was simple. Replace the traditional paper game sheet used by hockey leagues with a touch-screen computer and then broadcast that data to the Internet in real-time for players to enjoy. They called it an “electronic gamesheet system” and their first client was the UBC Thunderbird Adult Hockey League, then called UBC Duffers, whom agreed to pilot the nascent technology and support the fledgingly company; becoming the only beer league in the world that had scoring technology as good as the NHL.
Pointstreak’s decision to use touch-screen terminals was long before the iPhone and iPad popularized touch-screen computing. And by deciding to host the league administration tools online – as opposed to software that you downloaded to your computer – Pointstreak was also on the cutting-edge of what is now commonly called “cloud computing”. Aaron would often summarize Pointstreak’s early vision as a goal to become the “Microsoft Office of sports leagues: individual modules that could work well on their own, but were tightly integrated to do everything a league manager needs to do”.
By the end of that first season using Pointstreak, in March 2001, a competitive cyclist from Thunder Bay, Ontario, got what he wanted. Playing 25 games, Aaron notched up 47 goals and 35 assists. His total of 82 points was a full 17 points ahead of second place. And his and everyone else’s stats were up-to-date every night and always accurate. No doubt, 12 year old Aaron would have approved on all accounts.
A Vision Forms
Over in Ontario: While Aaron embarked on a mission to wipe out the paper score sheet, Scott Secord, an alumni from the prestigious St. Michael’s College School well-known for its athletic program, was brewing up similar plans to disrupt the student-athlete recruitment industry. The old recruitment model involved scouts spread-out geographically, trying to keep tabs on a handful of prospects: an expensive and not always fruitful way to find the next big talent. Scott’s vision was to use emerging Internet technologies to centralize thousands of student-athlete profiles so that a scout or coach can review and then decide whom to spend their attention on. Partnering with former NHLers Brent Grieve and Gerard Meehan, Scott founded Cardinal Sports Management with the goal of replacing the old recruitment/scouting model with a better way.
A Chance Encounter
A chance encounter brought Aaron and Scott together, ultimately merging their visions and forming the modernPointstreak Sports Technologies. In the early 2000s, Scott was playing in a local rec hockey league in the Greater Toronto Area. After one particularly hard fought game, he struck up a conversation with the new guy who had dropped in for the game, whom happened to be a mutual friend of Aaron’s. That random conversation lead to Scott and Aaron connecting and exploring a partnership between their two groups. Aaron’s idea to streamline the collection of paper game sheets immediately struck a chord with Scott. It fit perfectly with Scott’s vision to improve the old way of running sports organizations through the use of technology solutions. During a meeting with Aaron and his colleagues at Pointstreak’s first office, Scott inspected the ruggedized touch-screen terminal, looked at Aaron and said “We could sell this.”
This new partnership also foreshadowed the formula that makes the modern Pointstreak so successful: Aaron had the idea and a motivated team to make it happen; Scott had the industry connections and sales experience to successfully commercialize the technology.
And the rest is sports history…
To learn more about Pointstreak Sports Technologies, visit our corporate micro-site at company.pointstreak.com