Put me in, Coach: how SubMe is fixing your rec league's sub problem

by James Risley
January 18, 2017

Recreational sports leagues are great for getting in some competitive play, but not everyone’s schedule lets them fully commit to a full season of softball, soccer or ultimate. That's why Chicago app SubMe wants to help fill open slots in league play, allowing for more casual players to join games on short notice.

Founder Garrett Dallas knew that packed schedules and poor communications were causing leagues to scramble for replacements.

“Once people commit to a league, oftentimes they can't make a specific game," he said. "If you don't have a certain number of men and women that can attend, you have to forfeit that game.”

Usually, there are plenty of players ready to suit up and get their game on — but they need to know that they're needed. SubMe is the tech that connects team captains to those players, using a Tinder-like interface to let players join games and a chat platform to coordinate the details.

For now, the process is light and keeps friction to a minimum. But in the future, Dallas said SubMe will get smarter, asking captains all the right questions so substitute players are less likely to back out. And the app will learn more about players as well, helping to build a complete profile of a user so they can better suggest games.

“We intend to collect a lot of information about what people play, what leagues they participate in, how often — stuff that is not limited by the walled garden of a limited league, where they only have their own database,” Dallas said.

Dallas, who has a background in working with data, currently leads the Coinstar Exchange team for Outerwall. But this spring, Dallas plans to take the app on the road to introduce to leagues who might benefit. Right now, the app is limited to iOS users and is used by leagues in Chicago and San Diego.

But Dallas said Android and web versions are on their way, along with an expansion to other markets. In fact, after a recent vacation to New Zealand, he thinks international expansion could even come soon. During his trip, he found that there was a massive local Facebook group trying to fix the exact problem SubMe is designed to solve.

SubMe currently has 10 people working on it and has been bootstrapped by Dallas and his team. While raising a round isn’t out of the question, he said he would only want to do business with a company that could truly add value, like a major sports brand a big league — the kind of investors that would help advance SubMe’s mission of getting more people playing their favorite sports.

Image via SubMe

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