When I started Athlete Guild in 2010, my goal was to help non-profits raise money through road races. In 2010, there were a handful of races throughout the year and only a few companies servicing them. The problem I was experiencing was that the companies providing service were in my estimation gouging the market. They were charging outrageous rates and not really providing much in the way of services to the events. As I was directing several local events for non-profits, it was a constant source of frustration to me. I would either hire out and take a huge hit to the bottom line, or I would do away with things to make the event profitable. As the goal of a non-profit event is to make money, this was a constant struggle. I thought long and hard and decided to enter the market, but at a price that events could afford. It was also important that we not be just another timing company, but provide services beyond what others were offering. That is still true even today.
That is the reason why we were the first to introduce chips on the bib. As a race director, I was tired of the inconvenience of shoe tags. I wanted to be able to put a chip on the bib and then distribute them with the packets prior to the race. I also did not want to have to collect them after the race. I did an exhaustive search and found a single company that had just released a technology that would allow me to achieve that goal of a bib chip. We actually operated for many years before our competitors started offering the same. There were a lot of hard lessons we had to make as the technology was really new and presented challenges that simply did not exist with shoe tags. I felt though that the improvement in operations and ease of use far outweighed any disadvantages. Now everyone is offering chips on the bib although they still haven’t caught up as there are patents on our technology that keep us ahead of the pack.
Another technology that we introduced was the use of touch-screen kiosks. In the past, timers simply printed out a report and posted to a wall somewhere for people to review. Our introduction of a patented kiosk has been a game changer. Now the participant can simply go to the kiosk and type in their bib number and be presented with a printable receipt giving their time and ranking. This gives the participant instant feedback and also helps to catch errors early before producing final results for the awards. We are aware of others’ simple attempts of using TV monitors to display scrolling results and sometimes even using a keypad, but the touch-screen kiosk is a giant leap forward. We can still provide monitors when asked, but we find that the kiosk provides a much better experience.
Our latest innovation is with real-time results published to the internet. While onsite results are nice to have, what people really crave now are instant results that they can view on their phone. We can provide that ability now directly to our website while the race is being conducted. When a participant crosses the finish line, their time is pushed to our website and then ranked immediately to the results page. This information can then be retrieved using the participant’s mobile device in a web friendly way. We can also direct our system to send out an immediate email letting the participant know that their time is available.
These are but a few of the innovations that Athlete Guild has provided to the market and to your event. We continue to think of new ways to help make your event a success. Please let us know how we’re doing.