Back in February we wrote about a new startup called FanPulse that takes the check-in gaming mechanic popularized by Foursquare and applies it exclusively to sporting events. The premise is simple — checking in at a game lets you quickly connect with other sports fans, and also makes it easy to get real-time stat updates and even sports-related discounts (you can check it from your living room or the stadium itself). Today, just in time for the World Cup, FanPulse has some news to share: it’s forged deals with major professional sports organizations including the NHL and Golden State Warrors, it’s launched a new website to compliment its iPhone application, and it’s disclosing that it is part of the latest batch of companies to come out of the the Y Combinator program.
When FanPulse, which is headquartered at San Francisco’s Dogpatch Labs, launched in February, it was available only as a free iPhone application. Now it has a web presence that includes the same functionality available on the iPhone; co-founder Vishwas Prabhakara says that both a mobile webapp and support for Android are on the way this summer. The FanPulse homepage features a stream of current sports events that lets you quickly catch up on scores from whatever league you’re interested in (in light of the World Cup you’ll notice that soccer matches are currently most prominently displayed, but the site also features today’s MLB games).
Clicking on a current game gives you an option to ‘Check-in’ there, which immediately lets you start interacting with other fans that are watching or attending the same event. As with Foursquare, you can earn badges and points by checking into these games, and there’s a leaderboard that is reset once a week. You can engage with other fans using the ‘shout’ feature (which is effectively a forum created for each game) and by making predictions. So far, the site has been drawing strong engagement numbers, with each registered user spending 18 minutes on an average visit.
FanPulse also recently launched a new ‘Pro Account’ option that will appeal to quite a few sports fans. The biggest draw is an alerts system that will send you an iPhone push notification whenever there’s a in an-game event that you’ve deemed to be especially interesting (for example, a baseball game in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded, or a soccer game that’s gone to a shootout). ‘Pro’ users also have access to special badges and animated emoticons that they can use in their ‘Shouts’ (the messages users post in a game’s chat room).
Finally, the company has been busy at work signing partnerships with various professional sports teams and leagues. It signed a deal with the National Hockey League last season that would reward fans checking into a hockey game with a special badge that would give them discounts at NHL shops. It also did a deal with the Golden State Warriors that would offer any fan to check into a game a discount code for tickets to a Warriors homegame. This turned out to be very effective, drawing a 8.3% conversion rate. Prabhakara says that the company is currently in talks with several organizations and is hoping to further expand their partnerships next season.
There are quite a few other companies looking to combine social networking with sports. In fact, Y Combinator has invested in at least two of them: FanChatter, which helps sports teams boost engagement during and after games, and 140bets, which is a platform used for interacting with sports and other events in real-time.