SkillShark - Athlete Evaluations Made Simple
Four years ago, engineer Neil Anderson took over the U18 Girls Softball Program in Saskatoon and was greeted with a stack of paper athlete evaluations. Like so many sports, the league used pen and paper to record the data as they evaluated their athletes. The manual process was time-consuming, tedious and prone to error. Anderson knew there had to be a better way to manage the process. “I started work on the ’mother of all’ Excel spreadsheets,” says Anderson.
Anderson created a system that could do things like accommodate weighting skills and ensure the math was correct. He showed it to other coaches that were in the same boat – all were trapped under a mountain of paper. “While the spreadsheet was a better solution, it still wasn’t perfect,” says Anderson. “I searched Google to see if there was an application that could work better.” His search produced no solution, and Anderson got to work. An electrical engineer by trade, Anderson knew enough about coding to get started on what he wanted. Armed with some wireframes and a good sense of what he needed, he hired a local development company to bring his vision to life. SkillShark was born.
Anderson’s first big customer was the Lloydminster Minor Hockey Association. “The league hired clerical workers that took three weeks to enter the data collected by hand,” says Anderson. “Now, the league uses the SkillShark app on a phone or tablet and has a completely automated evaluation system – no more paper,” says Anderson. By May 2017, SkillShark was officially launched into the market for iPad. January 2018 brought Anderson to Co.Labs, Saskatoon’s business incubator, to get the support he needed to attract investors and get the advice he needed to take his business to the next level. Anderson works full-time as the owner of SkillShark, accompanied by a marketing manager and a web development team. “We’re always refining the app, making it better from the feedback we get from our customers,” says Anderson. “And, we’re working on new things too, to make the data we collect even more usable for our customers.”
33 releases later, SkillShark is in the ‘big leagues’. It’s now the athlete evaluation tool for amateur and professional sports organizations around the world. Among his customers are the Toronto FC, Arizona Dbacks, Tampa Bay Lightning and the French National Baseball League – and it all started with a coach and a too-big stack of paper in Saskatoon.
Founder: Neil Anderson