There comes a moment in the life of a young company when a product changes from a great idea that helps some people solve a problem into an essential product for a large group of people. The kind of product that forms the backbone of a large company, the kind of company a college football bowl is named after. Earlier this year, that moment may well have happened for local start-up StatEasy.
StatEasy was started many years ago by former volleyball player and active coach, Mike Ressler. As an undergraduate assistant for the women’s volleyball team at Carnegie Mellon University, Mike applied his computer science skills to create a better way to track volleyball statistics. A few years after graduation, his wife, also a volleyball coach, and a few other coaches asked Mike if they could use the software for their teams. At that point, Mike smelled an opportunity. He immediately began to improve the product to make it usable for a wider variety of people, even adding huge enhancements such as the ability to synchronize statistics with video. He soon found more and more coaches that wanted to use StatEasy (and who now love it and swear by it), including the head coach of the men’s team at my alma mater, Penn State. So many coaches liked StatEasy that Mike brought on a co-founder, and they are currently turning the idea of accurate feedback through statistics and video synchronization into a legitimate competitor in the volleyball market.
Then, out of the blue came bowling, and with it, a chance to pivot from lifestyle business to growing company. The volleyball coach at St. Francis University showed StatEasy to the new head coach of the bowling team, and he was immediately stoked. It was exactly what he needed, and something like he had never seen for bowling – a way to reliably score and capture statistics (not to mention break down video) for his team’s every match. Mike and his co-founder got to work immediately and answered the call by creating a complete solution for bowling in only 6 weeks! Their solution solves many problems for bowling coaches, one of the biggest being the complicated nature of the collegiate scoring systems (some of the scoring rules of bowling are so new and complex that even the coaches aren’t comfortable with them), and their hopes are that StatEasy could become the standard way to score and capture statistics for entire bowling conferences and eventually the NCAA. And then it only gets better from there. When most colleges are using StatEasy for bowling, what do you think the high schools will start using? What about the parents who want their kids to get a bowling scholarship? And the bowling leagues that the collegiate bowling players join after they graduate? When a company solves problems for an entire sport (while already helping numerous coaches in other sports), that’s the kind of company that grows big – really big. The kind of company that can help Mike Ressler realize his dream of the StatEasy Bowl, with him watching the action from a bright orange blimp in the sky.