Update (Sep 20, 2016) : The first version of the app is now on the App Store. Check it out!

Here at BYU, our student section for sports is called The ROC. A couple years ago, an app was developed for the ROC. Basically, you could sign in at games and if the app saw that your location was correct during the time of the game you would get points, which could be redeemed for prizes at the end of the year.

The app was decently built and very widely used, but it wasn’t very useful, and I don’t think anything has been done with it for over a year. I would like to build a replacement for it that would be much more useful. Obviously it would be a very niche app idea, but I think it could be very useful to me, and has the potential to make money as well.

ROC passes

Rather than using normal tickets, students buy what’s called a ROC pass at the beginning of each season. These ROC passes are the same size as a normal credit card or driver’s license, but only contain a bar code that can be used for getting into the games. I still don’t understand their necessity. The San Antonio Public Library gave me a library card that was the same size with the same type of bar code, but they also gave me a keychain card so that I don’t have to have the full size card to check out books.

Even better than using a keychain card would be to use an app. To be honest, I’ve been using my phone to replace my ROC pass for the last year and a half. I got one of those special wallet cases for my phone (and I love it), and so I’ve been trying to minimize the number of cards that I carry. I took a photo of my ROC pass, and the event staff people were able to scan the barcode from that.

Because of that experience, I know that it will work just fine to have the barcode in the app. You could enter the barcode number into the app and then you wouldn’t have to carry a ROC pass to the games.

Additionally this would fix other problems. Students commonly let other students borrow their ROC pass for a game. If your ROC pass was stored in the app, it could instantly be sent to other students to borrow so you wouldn’t have to give them your physical pass and then worry about getting it back from them.

Game Programs

The current ROC app allows you to view the BYU rosters for the main sports, but just shows you a web view for them. A better version would allow you to view the rosters of BYU players in a native app view, but also load the rosters of the visiting teams. Similar to a game program, you should be able to have all of the teams' stats available on demand. This would allow the students to be slightly better informed about their own teams, but also about the opposing teams. By having the information in a native view instead of a web view, the program could be downloaded before the game so that it would still be available in the stadium or Marriott Center where cell phone reception is hard to get.

ROC Rituals

One thing I love about the ROC is the weird rituals. For instance, after every free throw we make, we yell out “Whoosh, Kevin!” and point at the university president, Kevin Worthen. A couple times at games this year, I found out younger students didn’t realize what we were actually saying. A couple yelled “Whoomp, there it is!” An entire section of the app could be devoted to these rituals, and helping new students to learn them. Also, the fight song. When I was a freshman, the words were displayed on the jumbotron whenever we sang it at football games, but that’s no longer a thing apparently. If it were in the app, students would have somewhere to look at the lyrics until they committed them to memory. And since it’s BYU, all the students are used to reading hymns out of their phones already.

Calendars and Notifications

The current app has an events list that tells you when all of the games will be. Honestly though, it’s not that helpful. Right now it’s completely empty, but even when the app was popular, it mostly just listed the popular sports. Let’s get the rugby and lacrosse games in there too! What would really be great would be to do something similar to The Skimm and create a subscribable calendar that would add all of the events directly into the standard iOS calendar. You could choose which sports to be notified about, and receive notifications about the most important games in the other sports too. It could connect the ROC and get students to show up when it really mattered.

Making Money

The main problem with this project is how to actually make money to sustain it. Most of it could be self-contained, but a couple of features would require a server to host data, so about $100 per year. The time cost of building the app would be a couple thousand dollars, and someone would need to curate data about the other teams to make the game programs.

I see three different routes to make money from this:

  1. Sell to BYU I think the only one that would guarantee success (depending on my sales skills) would be to sell the idea to BYU and get them to pay me to build it for them. I believe that the app would help to unify the ROC even more and make the game atmosphere even better, helping them to sell more tickets to fans. This isn’t a guaranteed home run though because they could potentially just have the campus IT team or whoever built the last app do it for them. Or I may be unable to convince them to let me do it because of my mediocre sales skills.

  2. Advertising This one would require a lot more work on my part. I would have to find local businesses and others who want to advertise to students. Luckily, the 18-24 year old age bracket tends to be one that advertisers are constantly wanting to reach, and this app is very targeted toward that age range, so I think it would be very possible. With the right advertising partners, I think this could be very lucrative as well. Potentially I could then take this app and replicate it for the student sections of other schools around the country and grow the audience even more to get even more advertising revenue.

  3. Marketplace This one would require more upfront development, but would potentially be the easiest to have catch on. I already run a ROC Pass Exchange Facebook group where people can pay each other to borrow ROC passes. Instead that could be built into the app to allow for easier transactions, and then I could take a small cut out of the middle.

These are all my thoughts for now, but this will probably be my next project. I’ll update this post with any new ideas that I have, or when there is any progress made.