A Brief History of Lead Dog

Part 1: An idea for a mobile app

A few years ago we decided to join a corporate softball league at my company. We played exactly 2 games that season. The co-ed league we were part of, required us to have at least 3 female players on the field. Even when enough people showed up, we still ended up having to forfeit. In the fall we tried it again with a basketball league. Games got moved to different locations and we couldn't mobilize the team quickly enough. We actually played and almost won a game playing 4-on-5.

In both cases, we exclusively relied on a giant email thread to keep track of schedules for upcoming games, RSVPs and trash talking our opponent to get hyped up for the game. It would've been nice if there was an app for that.

An app to manage your team and notify players when schedules and venues change.

I did my research and found a few iOS apps on the App Store offering these basic features, but most of them hadn't been updated in years and they all lacked the visual aesthetic for an app intended to get people to go out and play.

I've always been a Nike guy, and I knew Nike would be the perfect inspiration to build an app to get people excited about playing sports. It was easy to see the trends with Nike's apparel and digital products, a dark theme with neon accents. It would be the starting point for the app's visual direction.

I started off with 3 main goals:

  • Simple and fast
  • Reduce the noise
  • Get people to participate

The first one is a no-brainier, every app aspires to be simple and fast. I wanted the app to be something people didn't spend a lot of time in, but easy enough to quickly see notifications and take action.

Which naturally lead to my second goal. I wanted to make sure people could customize the app to fit their level of comfort with the noise from being part of a group. Notifications needed to be a first-class feature.

The final goal was a bit more abstract, I wanted the app to inspire people to participate in more sports and activities. I believed if the app made it easier for teams to organize and actually make it to games, players would enjoy it enough to keep playing. Players joining multiple teams would be good indicator for this.

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