In the spring of 2010, Robert Stribling had an idea. He met up with his friend Stephanie Calabrese and shared two sheets of paper, a simple diagram and a spreadsheet. Both Robert and Stephanie had watched countless hours of their children playing sports for many years. They knew how badly it felt to miss one of their kid’s games, and they knew how awesome it felt to watch a great play happen from the stands. But there wasn’t a way to capture the memories without the hassle of recording the entire game themselves. Robert said something like, “What if we could automate the recording of our kids’ games, share it, and make it easy for us to grab our own kids’ highlights – you could grab your son’s home run, and I could grab my son’s great catch? We’d never miss a game and we could save their best plays.”
Ever since Robert was a young boy, he’s asked “What if?” He’s always loved taking things apart, and figuring out how to put them back together in a way that’s better – more useful, efficient, or easier to use. Robert had created several patented inventions by this time. Stephanie has always loved making things, and teaming up with creative folks to build digital experiences throughout her career. With support from early investors and friends who believed in their vision, “NewCo” took shape and the Highlight Broadcast Network, LLC was born.
Robert and Stephanie brought in technologists and designers to help them create the first HiCast Sports prototype, designed initially to be a desktop browser-based solution, back before the rise of the mobile device. The team tested a slew of cameras and settings to capture sample video footage, and created a website prototype for users to view, customize, and save highlights from the footage to their desktop. They used this prototype to demonstrate their concept and gain feedback from the market, but it had issues. To build a flexible and scalable solution to serve large quantities of video to users instantly and anywhere, they needed to rethink their approach.
By Spring 2013, mobile devices and app usage began to explode. Bandwidth and data plans increased. Video sharing became more commonplace. Moms were sharing status updates in Facebook on a near daily basis. The team decided HiCast Sports had to be a mobile solution, and that users needed access to the best plays of the game right away – to share their son’s home run in-the-moment, not hours after the game. And they believed that users didn’t want to share these memories in a new website, but with friends, family and fans in their existing social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. So, they abandoned the prototype, and started over.
With an expanded team of creative folks, they rebuilt the HiCast platform from the ground-up to be flexible, scalable, simple-to-manage, and natively mobile. They redesigned the experience to go far beyond video live streaming by making it possible for users to instantly download, customize, and share their replays without delay. They learned a lot by trial and error. Robert climbed ladders to hang cameras, and they installed the HiCast technology platform with support from their hometown ballpark, Criswell Park in Monroe, Georgia.
On November 8, 2013, app in hand, Stephanie and Robert stepped out on to the pitcher’s mound and waved at the camera on Field 5 and… it worked! Not everything, and not perfectly, but enough to create the very first ballpark replay that day. They had a solid base hit. The team continued to refine the HiCast platform and user experience, and on August 19, 2014, version 1.0 of the HiCast Sports app went live in the Apple App Store. The season for HiCast Sports had begun!