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Hitpost Sports founder on creating a hit Android app

by Brad Spirrison

While most major sports media companies have worthy apps, true innovation in the mobile space will likely come from startups who cut their teeth in the mobile medium.

Enter Hitpost Sports, which scored on Android with its free application and plans to release a new and improved iOS title in the coming days.

Here is a video review of the app, courtesy of Appolicious Advisor Andrew Koziara, which lets users track and even report on their favorite sports teams.

In this edition of Meet the Makers, we check in with Hitpost founder and designer Aaron Krane to discuss his company’s new crowdsourced approach to covering the wide world of sports, why he pulled previous iOS titles from the App Store, and why his own favorite sport has not yet floated on top of the Hitpost wave.

Appolicious: Hitpost has been referred to as a "Flipboard for sports." Aside from a catchy elevator pitch, what features of Hitpost make it a ripe comparison to the pioneering Flipboard?

Aaron KraneAaron Krane: Catchy or not, the comparison is an honor. I think it means that like Flipboard, Hitpost is a design-forward product, with a visual user experience, engineered for mobile platforms. But, Hitpost is designed for users to create sports reports, and we focus on mobile phones.

APPO: What inspired the app, and how do you think app developers overall have advanced (or not) the sports consumption experience?

AK: Hitpost is inspired by the power of crowds to tell an emergent story, and phones are the means for doing so. Sports is the world's largest and most enthusiastic crowd, yet the current mobile products are heavily influenced by companies that specialize in websites.

APPO: Hitpost is currently available on Android devices (and you previously had an iOS version of the app.) Talk about the specific approach to marketing your app on each platform.

AK: We haven't invested any resources in marketing or promotion yet. The Android team has been an amazing resource of its own, and has helped us out.

APPO: Why are you not currently available in the iTunes App Store and when and how do you plan to return?

AK: We're actually about to launch the new Hitpost Sports for iPhone, in a matter of days. We've launched multiple iPhone apps before, but killed 'em when they failed to achieve traction. Now the new Hitpost Sports is already exploding on Android, and we think the iPhone app will significantly amplify this growth.

APPO: For Android specifically, what are the technical challenges to developing and maintaining an app that performs well on dozens of devices carried on an array of cellular networks?

AK: For design, Android adds the minor complexity of differing screen sizes. For testing, it adds more complexity, because at Hitpost we test everything on 5-10 different Android devices.

APPO: Talk about the company. How long have you been in business? How many employees? What was the pitch that helped you secure $500,000 in angel financing?

AK: Hitpost is almost 2 years old, and right now we're a team of 7: five developers, one Q/A engineer, and one designer/CEO. Our pitch hasn't changed since day-one: crowd-powered sports coverage. Sports is a winner-take-all market, and the winner for the next decade will invariably be a great mobile team like us.

APPO: Do you have additional titles and updates we should look forward to?

AK: Do we ever! The iPhone app launches in days. We've also got a couple big Euro sports ready to go, including English Premier League and Cricket. We're also working on a stealth Facebook app, which is code-named "Posterize."

APPO: What is your favorite sport? Sports team?

AK: My personal favorite sport is surfing, but at Hitpost we play pick-up basketball at least once a week. I love the 2004 Pistons.

APPO: Identify the three things about the mobile media space that keep you up at night.

AK: I'm excited by the potential of Android Widgets, handset partnerships, and a mobile platform/marketplace by Facebook.