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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
A Minneapolis start-up is attempting to make it less stressful for parents to find the right youth sports league for their children.
SportsEngine Inc., which was purchased by NBC Sports Group last summer, is launching North America's largest youth sports directory.
The company is the nation's largest provider of web software and mobile applications to manage youth, amateur and professional sports.
SportsEngine's new directory is intended to be a search engine for parents looking for youth sports programs in their areas by using details such as what sport the user wants to search, postal code and the child's gender and age, the company said Tuesday.
Parents can see what sports are offered in their area, what the cost is and find the contact information.
"For parents, finding a quality, trustworthy program for their kids from among thousands of choices available is a daunting task," CEO and co-founder Justin Kaufenberg said in a statement. "The SportsEngine.com youth directory provides parents with a curated list of conveniently located options based on their child's age, interest and location."
For 20 different sports, the SportsEngine youth sports directory has more than 100,000 youth sports listings. It is free for anyone to use, and for leagues to list themselves on the directory when it goes live Tuesday.
"If you didn't know what sport you want your kid to play and you looked up youth sports in Minneapolis, you're probably on Google looking through 50 links," said Brandon Anderson, director of product for SportsEngine. "Since we were acquired by NBC Sports, we've really started to focus on parents and families getting their kids involved in sports."
Anderson said the goal for the first year of the directory is just to get the name out to parents and leagues. As it continues to grow, he said they intend to profit on groups wanting to advertise on the site.
SportsEngine's biggest competitor in the youth sports directory market will be active.com, which allows anyone to search for local activities. But Anderson said they set themselves apart by specifically catering to youth sports.
By working with sports leagues for almost a decade, SportsEngine has been able to collect a database of youth leagues, but is continuing to add and update information as word of the directory gets out.
Anderson said the reach of NBC has been "massive" in making the new endeavor work. Having NBC advertise the directory on its networks and website lets leagues know the directory exists, and how to update their listings online.
Over the next few months, Anderson said the company will continually update the program with new features. He is hoping to add a program that will let parents leave feedback about leagues and rate them.
SportsEngine was founded in 2008 and is located in northeast Minneapolis. The company's origins can be tracked back to 2002, when Kaufenberg and classmate Carson Kipfer launched a web design company from a dorm room at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Terms of the July 2016 NBC deal were not disclosed. It has 424 employees, and about 650,000 sports teams, leagues, clubs and associations use the platform.
Patrick Thomas · 612-673-7740
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