GameChanger: Record Real-Time Amateur Sports Scores via Twilio SMS

Kiril Savino, CTO of GameChanger

On any given day, tens of millions of people—adults and kids alike—lace up their athletic shoes and head to their local parks and gyms to play baseball, basketball, soccer—or another game. Someone will keep score, and afterwards, the players will share the results with their friends and family. Then all the passion, the effort, and the blood, sweat and tears will be forgotten.

Ted Sullivan, the co-founder of GameChanger and a lifelong coach and sports fan, wondered what would happen if amateur sports were treated more like professional sports and memorialized by media companies? What if the data about each team and each player’s performance could be collected, shared and analyzed? What if the play-by-play of a Little League baseball game could be sent, via text message, to parents as they worked or shopped or commuted home?

Thus was born the GameChanger mobile app and website. GameChanger provides  an easy scorekeeping solution along with automatic stat calculation, which allows coaches to save time. That allows GameChanger to provide customized alerts to families and fans, so parents can receive text messages every time their little leaguer is up at bat, gets a hit or scores a home run.

Kiril Savino, GameChanger’s chief technology officer, said he initially tried sending messages through a variety of SMS gateways, before settling on Twilio SMS for its ease of use, flexibility and reliability. “Twilio exposed a really well-designed API and had a significantly lower price,” Savino said. Twilio also provided detailed, message-by-message reporting so that GameChanger could ensure messages requested by their Premium Access subscribers were delivered.

A single GameChanger developer was able to integrate the Twilio API with the company’s Python-based alerting system in just a few weeks. As a result of the switch, GameChanger cut its text messaging costs in half.

Their growth has been explosive.

GameChanger initially focused on baseball, signing up more than 45,000 amateur baseball teams. Together, the teams generate as much data in one afternoon as Major League Baseball does in a season. GameChanger is now sending nearly two million SMS updates a month, and the number is growing.

Savino said choosing Twilio was critical in GameChanger’s ability to scale. Not only can the platform handle increasing volumes, but Twilio also made it easy to switch from sending messages via regular ten-digit telephone numbers to a five-digit short code, which carriers require to guarantee delivery of high volumes of messages. “The amount of engineering work it took to switch to the short code was trivial,” Savino said. “It took us just ten minutes to make that change.”

Savino said the team plans to tackle basketball next and to eventually become a platform for all amateur sports in the United States and overseas. The mobile app is already being adopted by teams in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Puerto Rico simply as a result of word of mouth.

Twilio’s international and voice capabilities will be crucial to overseas expansion, Savino said. Thanks to Twilio’s global SMS service, GameChanger will be able to reach billions of people across 150 countries. And if a sports fan doesn’t have a smart phone or even text messaging, GameChanger can use Twilio to deliver updates via voice messages.

“The promise of what we can do with voice is very exciting for us,” Savino said. “We want to bring technology to a corner of the world that has traditionally been pretty low tech.”