Anthony Bruno

A veteran of the start-up world, Bruno’s latest venture has him taking the hassle out of recreational league registration

Anthony Bruno  CEO SportsSignup  Saratoga Springs, NY
Anthony Bruno
Saratoga Springs, NY

I love coming in early to a small company with huge potential. That’s what I’ve done for the last 20 years. Most of my career was spent in Silicon Valley, with various start-ups serving the GPS, surveying, and mapping industries. I was also part of an online maps start-up called Vicinity Corp. that went public and was acquired by Microsoft.

A few years ago, I relocated to New York and reached out to John Haller, a friend of mine who was one of the founders of MapInfo, which was sold in 2007 to Pitney Bowes for $408 million. Haller had started SportsSignup, and I was intrigued right away. I offered some ideas for growth, and before I knew it, I was on to another start-up.

Fast forward seven years, and this company has gone from a great idea to a 20-plus employee operation with customers across North America. It all started several years ago when John’s wife, Michelle, was the registrar for a local soccer league. Michelle had to deal with paper registration forms, collecting money and checks, arranging schedules, forming teams, contacting parents—a frustrating endeavor for a volunteer. John realized there was a huge potential to take this virtual … and he was right. Our goal is to take the headache out of the process by making it fast, easy, and safe. We provide online registration, payment processing, team registration, and even background checks for coaches and other volunteers.

Even small community sports organizations end up operating six- or seven-figure budgets and are typically managed by volunteers. We’re essentially a focused customer relationship management system for everything they do. We are the portal for them to communicate with members and collect payments. We also provide continuity, because parents usually stop working with an organization when kids age out, and someone else has to pick up the pieces.

We now process more than one million paid registrations per year, which is exciting because there are many industries that cater to sports organizations and we can harness it all by adding eCommerce and other capabilities. Uniforms, equipment, insurance, technology, whatever else—we have the opportunity to tie all of this together.

We’re also focused on capturing a fragmented market as we build our brand. Our goal is to get sports administrators, families, and players to a point where they can’t imagine life before us. We do that through excellent service and what we call “wow moments.” A wow moment is giving the customer something unexpected. This could be as simple as answering the phone, which is actually a wow moment for some. Making products that solve real problems and going beyond expectations for service are the ingredients to become indispensable. When we focus on this, generating revenue becomes more of a detail instead of something to obsess over. This industry is changing, and when it’s all said and done, we will have been one of the early change agents. We’ll look back and know that we made the change happen.