Tim Brookins presents his app at 1 Million Cups Fargo on June 4.

Tim Brookins presents his app at 1 Million Cups Fargo on June 4.

For Tim Brookins, college sports apps are in desperate need of attention. The apps that most schools use for their athletics are full of advertisements, poorly designed, and brimming with content that the average fan is not interested in. To remedy the problem, Brookins has introduced his solution: ProudCrowd.

“Existing sports apps are about the game. They are one-way broadcasts of statistics and other data to users. We have a fundamentally different principle: We built an app about the fans, not the game. Almost everything in the app is designed to engage fans in a two-way conversation,” Brookins said.

Brookins, a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft’s Fargo campus, got his start in the business of sports apps last year when NDSU’s Alumni Association asked him to build a better app to engage fans at NDSU football games. This task led to the creation of the Bison Tracker app, which gained “Road to Frisco” fame when ESPN featured a graphic from the app displaying the migration of NDSU fans to Frisco, Texas for the NCAA FCS National Championship.

“The original version of Bison Tracker was actually focused at finding people in the tailgate lot,” Brookins said. “While that is still part of our offering, we learned during the year that people were most interested in other fans across the nation. That led to the famous ‘map of green dots’ which shows people going to Frisco, Texas for the championship football game. The first release of the app didn’t have that map.”

The lessons he learned will go into the new apps made by ProudCrowd, the first of which will be released this fall. Schools purchase a custom-made app for their athletics to cover the price of the app for fans and are then use it to engage their fans in a way that conventional promotional tools like a Facebook page cannot. Instead of just seeing posts from the athletics department, fans can interact with each other and share their plans for traveling, tailgating, watching, and more.

After having success with their initial app in 2013, ProudCrowd will again be used by NDSU in 2014. Already in talks with potential clients, Brookins has big goals for ProudCrowd’s growth.

“Our goals for this year are to gain a couple of major Division-I universities as clients. This will allow us to gain some high visibility reference customers to help drive broad sales in the future,” Brookins said.

To learn more about what ProudCrowd has to offer, check out their website.

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Mark Staples