“We Knew The Mistakes — Why Try To Fix An Old Product When You Should Start From Scratch?”
Owen-Thomas on How Experience, Intelligence, and Commitment Drove GotSoccer to Design New Software From Scratch. #GotPro #GotSoccer
Gavin Owen-Thomas has always been in love with soccer and is the founder of GotSoccer. A former newspaper journalist who worked at CNN for 23 years, Owen-Thomas has also coached youth and professional soccer and holds a USSF A / UEFA Coaching licenses. A man of determination, Owen-Thomas is a perceptive entrepreneur who saw the needs of the evolving sports market and began redesigning GotSoccer software two years ago in anticipation of exceeding clients’ needs.
GotSoccer is the only major player in the registration and tournament software market that is privately held. With approximately 90% of the youth soccer tournament market using the GotSoccer platform and arguably a majority of the youth soccer players registering to play the beautiful game, Owen-Thomas is a force to be reckoned with. Never content to simply rest on past accomplishments, as well as determined to protect his market share and meet the needs of the youth soccer market, he harnessed GotSoccer’s nearly two decades of experience working with the idiosyncratic and quirky preferences of youth state associations.
The results? GotSoccer released new software earlier this year that touts real flexibility that reflects Owen-Thomas’ understanding that one size does not fit all in the registration software market. Instead of making clients conform to a software process, regardless of how logical program developers might think the flow is, GotSoccer’s goal is to bring the technology to meet users’ expectations.
SoccerToday Interview with GotSoccer’s Gavin Owen-Thomas
Diane Scavuzzo: Why did GotSoccer start over and create new software from scratch?
Gavin Owen-Thomas: A lot of technology is driven these days by venture capitalists who want to make a quick buck. Venture capitalists with massive budgets usually want to buy something and sell something — nothing with them is made with a long term view. Nothing is made with the idea of benefiting the market.
This is never how we have worked.
We have always been the industry leader that planned to stay in the game.
Diane Scavuzzo: How large is the GotSoccer share of the American youth soccer market?
Gavin Owen-Thomas: The American youth soccer market makes up 65% of GotSoccer’s client portfolio. We have diversified into the professional sports market, and are also doing very well with clients all over the world.
I am proud that the MLS uses GotPro and so does Ligue 1 & 2 in France, Campeonato Brasileiro de Futebol in Brazil (Seria A- Serie D), the Canadian Premier League, and many many others.
For additional GotPro’s International Professional Clients, please read: GOTSOCCER KICKS OFF GOT SPORTS – NEW & TESTED TECHNOLOGY
Diane Scavuzzo: How long have you been in the software business?
Gavin Owen-Thomas: It seems like forever. Originally, we built a tournament software and then a registration software, and then a league software.
We have 18-years experience and we know what is wrong with registration software.
We knew we needed to start over and where we had to go. We know this industry. We know the mistakes that have been made. You can’t fix old software. I believe you have start over again if you really want to develop a product that works the way clients want.
This time we did it right and we got the most experienced developers money can buy.
You can’t buy experience.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you mean by experience?
Gavin Owen-Thomas: Let’s say you wanted to build a new registration software — companies fail because they do not know what the best ever registration software looks like. They don’t understand the complexities of what a registration platform needs to do.
Diane Scavuzzo: It is not a universal process? Isn’t registering youth players to play a sport basically straightforward?
Gavin Owen-Thomas: No — the way player registration is done in the state of Washington is very different from what happens in Florida, and totally different from the way it is structured in Texas, Massachusetts or Ohio.
As I have said, you can’t buy experience.
In one state, a team signs up the players. In another state, the players will sign up directly with the state, and in another state, the players will sign up with a club. America is comprised of many states in which youth soccer has evolved differently with many different structures of player registration.
When we started over to design GotSoccer’s new player registrations software, we had 18 years of trying to take our software and manipulate it for each different state.
We had 18 years of knowing what every state wanted — so when we started over, we had this wealth of knowledge, this experience that money can’t buy.
Diane Scavuzzo: The youth soccer landscape is so complex, you can’t just know what a state wants, you need to know why they want it to fully appreciate the nuances and differences of how players are registered all across this country …
Gavin Owen-Thomas: Exactly.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is one of the major new features in the GotSoccer player registration software?
Gavin Owen-Thomas: When an individual registers with GotSoccer, he or she can hold multiple roles — for instance, he or she can be a coach, a referee, a parent, and a manager or even a player all with a single login.
It is a much cleaner system. GotSoccer’s platform is a centralized database and the structure of the software is so flexible, it can handle the changes that one client wants while meeting the needs of another.
Diane Scavuzzo: The timing of the release of the new GotSoccer software was very fortuitous …
Gavin Owen-Thomas: We were lucky that we were able to launch the software now, but we started two years ago. We foresaw changes in the market, but I do not have a crystal ball.
This is a completely new software. It is built on a different base, GotSoccer base is Ruby on Rails (RoR) and the product is incredibly dynamic and flexible.
Did you know that GotSoccer’s registration platform can be used in 15 different languages? A person can be registering in English, Spanish and even unusual South African tribal languages or even Thai — all simultaneously. It is truly an international product designed to help grow the sport.
GotSoccer also has new reporting features — for example, it has always been hard to organize and communicate with the massive numbers of volunteers in youth soccer.
Now, parents can now register their players and let a club know they want to volunteer, a club can see quickly see a “Volunteer Report” and then directly email these parents with info on the next steps of becoming a volunteer. We have made it simple.
Diane Scavuzzo: At the 2019 GotSoccer Winter Convention in Florida, no one there was trying to push the software, it was more of a meeting of soccer people who were passionate about the beautiful game listening to an amazing array of speakers from around the world. Many of your clients were at this 11th annual meeting and they always seem to love this event.
Gavin Owen-Thomas: Thank you for saying that. Wasn’t World Cup winner Robert Pires fabulous? And Jeff Mostyn, the Chairman of ACF Bournemouth? ICC’s Charlie Stillitano was great. So was USYS’ Drew Hiatt — all of our speakers were great. It has been fun, and GotSoccer’s clients are terrific. It has been an amazing journey. I really mean that. So many of our clients have been with us for ages, and many of those who left, have come back.
It has been fun, and GotSoccer’s clients are terrific. It has been an amazing journey. I really mean that. So many of our clients have been with us for ages, and many of those who left, have come back.
I am so honored — our clients are so loyal.
Diane Scavuzzo: How can any software help grow the game of soccer?
Gavin Owen-Thomas: Software is never going to make a player better. Nothing replaces great coaching. Nothing replaces playing the game. However, software can provide good tools for coaching and help clubs become more financially stable and eliminate corruption — there are tremendous ways software can help a club focus on player development and not administrative issues.
Today, technology simplifies time-consuming tasks, and helps make sure revenue is realized, automates complex scheduling, and now GotPro is launching our new ticketing and fan engagement software this spring which will help clubs increase revenue and attendance.
We use the power of A.I. and the latest cutting-edge technology to accelerate and automate organizational processes — but the real difference with GotSoccer, is we are here to stay and want to help people.