How Local Sportstech Startup AutoIce Is Carving Out A Niche

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Scheduling and managing ice time for arenas and hockey associations might totally sound like a Minnesotan thing, but Stephen Randall and his partner Thomas Manzella see much more potential to it.

Like many entrepreneurial aha’s, Randall’s spawned from a need that arose in his own life when he was in charge of managing ice time for the Eagan Hockey Association over seven years.  He grew frustrated with the clutter and complications involved with this task, and wanted to make it easier.

“It had to be done a different way,” says the lifelong IT engineer and full time consultant.

Putting their skills to use, the duo built and launched AutoIce, a tool that completely automates the process of generating and managing schedules for hockey leagues and associations. Randall states that the software offers a level of end-to-end automation that is unparalleled by any other schedule generation product on the market.

“We’ve mastered an algorithm that generates, audits and corrects everything,” he says.

Working alongside cofounder Thomas Manzella, whose background is in sales, Randall has enlisted four active clients and says he’s in conversations with three or four more. The company is also in partnership talks with at least one big-name player in the local sports tech space.

Customers pay for AutoIce on a per-event fee — costs usually end up landing in the $4,000-5,000 range annually for active associations — and they can add on professional services if they don’t want to actually create the schedules themselves.

While hockey associations and arenas might be a niche market (though as any Minnesota resident will tell you, it’s not exactly a tiny niche), Randall has bigger plans for AutoIce. The core technology can be applied to any sport, so he envisions the software ultimately being used by baseball, basketball, football and other athletic associations nationwide. Suddenly, we’re not really talking about a niche anymore.

“Across the country there are probably about 5,000 arenas, just in the hockey space,” he estimates.

“When you get into multi-sport, you’re looking at… I don’t even want to think about it.”

Sounds like a power play in the making.

Comments

  • David Frenkel

    Interesting product. I wonder if it will also help ice rinks with scheduling their ice time. It would make for an interesting system if an association could ping ice rinks automatically when they are looking for open ice.

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