Babson Alums Want to Help You Find a Pickup Basketball Game
Babson College alumni Adrian Masone and Dara Behjat want to make finding a pickup basketball game easier. And they are starting by asking one question: “Who’s Hoopin?”
Who’s Hoopin? is an app created “by hoopers, for hoopers” that provides real-time information on where to find a pickup game.
The need for Who’s Hoopin? became clear in the summer of 2012, when Masone was driving around searching for a game and found 10 players scattered across three courts within 15 minutes of each other. Around the time he started developing the app, Behjat was designing a similar platform for his entrepreneurship course. The two were introduced and decided to team up, with the hope of helping others do the same.
“We set out on this mission to create a platform for hoopers to connect,” Masone says. “So they can spend less time looking for a game and more time playing.”
Although solutions existed—text messaging, email, or creating a Facebook event—one feature didn’t: a real-time headcount from any given court.
“Scheduling takes time,” Masone says. “And you might not know on Sunday if you will feel like playing ball on Wednesday. The idea, in a nutshell, started off as ‘Foursquare for basketball.’”
Players would be able to check-in to a court and see how many other players were there. For the model to be effective, however, the app needed a large pool of active users. So they introduced a feature that allows one user to login and report the number of players on any given court.
The duo calls this “the first generation of the app,” and is trying to raise $6,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to be able to hire the development talent necessary to add additional features, such as scheduling for those who want the option and push notifications.
“For the app to really work for someone, they need to check the app shortly after someone’s checked in,” Masone says. But by enabling push notifications, users could subscribe to courts and be alerted when others are there. “It’s kind of tough, because reporting requires a certain level of altruism. Take reporting a traffic jam—it doesn’t get you out of traffic, but helps others.”
The most active courts on the app can be found in Allston-Brighton or around Downtown Boston, although a small culture, according to Masone, is starting to crop up in Maine. The team is focused on continuing to grow its user base, while also shifting Who’s Hoopin? to more of a lifestyle brand.
Behjat says the team would like to build a rewards system that could get users discounts to local sporting goods stores or professional games nearby. Consider it “an avenue to help the needs of our users outside of playing basketball,” Behjat explains. “It will hopefully help basketball culture.”
To Behjat, it’s that culture that inspired him to play basketball. Despite article headlines reading, “Playground basketball is dying,” he wants to inspire people to “play basketball for free and for fun” again. He envisions a world where the courts are recognized as a safe space, a good escape, and where scouts return to recruit talent.
“Maybe the next generation of hoop stars will be discovered on the app,” Masone adds.
The only question scouts will need to ask is, “Who’s Hoopin?”