I love running, and I somehow I am interested in crowdsourcing too (you didn’t notice?), so I’d like to feature an exciting start-up here. Twiinkly, founded by Christophe Delalande (SKEMA 2009) and Martin Gaffuri (ESSCA 2009), wants to leverage events’ audiences to enable better coverage by the spectators: “As an onsite spectator, become actor of the live coverage by taking photos and sharing them on Twiinkly,” the App Store description says, “enter a runner’s name or their bib number to customise the race timeline and have a unique and personalised live coverage experience.” Here’s more about Twiinkly.
Twiinkly gathers spectators’ photos on one timeline
Crowdsourcing coverage of sports events is not new. For example, a couple of months ago, a young Australian entrepreneur contacted me to share his Combox project, a “crowdsourced sports commentary” platform for which he was raising money on Kickstarter (he eventually raised $13,395 out of a $17,500 goal). Aggregating social media content is not new neither. Start-ups like Memolane or Brickflow did – and still do – compile the content from various social media platforms on a single dashboard or timeline (Memolane stopped in 2013).
However, to my knowledge, the combination of both is new.
The idea is that, with Twiinkly, any spectator of a competition (you’ll have noticed that running is the first market that Twiinkly targets) has the ability to share the pictures he takes, live, through the application – thus becoming one of thousands of “potential journalists” who can contribute to the coverage of the race.
Today, live events are covered by journalists or passionate bloggers. Twiinkly allows to generate content that these experts can sort, select, comment and share with the audience (Martin Gaffuri, on Influencia.net)
In their launch press release, the founders emphasize that Twiinkly will be a way for journalists to better cover sport events: “By giving spectators the ability to cover events live, Twiinkly allows journalists to build on their expertise and to focus on the analysis rather than the production of visual data.” Brands, including sports brands, have already been enabling this type of crowdsourced coverage, mostly through Twitter hashtags.
So what differenciates Twiinkly from that?
More detailed and granular information about each photo: “[Twiinkly] will enable a personalized and unique experience. Users can indeed add tags (bib number, runner, team, sponsor, kit supplier etc.) on any photo, which allows brands to tag all the photos of athletes during a race, and feature its upcoming collections, for example,” says Martin, who obviously knows what he’s talking about. “Via display advertising offers, the Twiinkly timeline is a digital media allowing event sponsors to create engagement with the audience that is not on the spot.”
Where the idea comes from
Like Vyclone, an collaborative video app that was started by a musician to improve concert coverage, Twiinkly was founded by a passionate runner who wanted to improve race coverage. Martin Gaffuri is a professional runner for New Balance, and tours the globe to run long-distance races like the Ultra Race of Champions (100km in 11h32 in 2013), Transvulcania (83km in 08h24 in 2013), Ice Trail Tarentaise (65km in 08h56 in 2013), or Tarawera Ultramarathon (65km in 06h21 in 2014).
Martin’s pre-race interview of UROC 2013, which he finished in 11h32 last year
He told me that his idea for Twiinkly came during a race (good ideas come during practice or at races, I agree!) when he saw so many people taking photos of him – and not knowing how to even get them. These people didn’t know him, and most likely he did know them. Only few of them might identify him on Twitter while posting the photos they took of him, or #hashtag the race to share that photo with other participants. There had to be an app for that.
Focusing on ultra-running to start
Martin told me that they want to focus on ultra-running events for obvious reasons: connections. As a known figure of the Skyrunning scene, he has the knowledge and relationships to push the app among a field of passionnate connoisseurs: athletes, sponsors, spectators, race organisers… many people gave him feedback, and still do to help him improve Twiinkly. He told me that the US and Canada Skyrunning series already approved partnerships, and further events should follow.
Choosing a name that is not linked to the universe of running is part of the project’s mid-term expansion strategy
So, don’t take this post’s title for granted. Martin is not only a talented runner, his entrepreneurial spirit might have him evolve Twiinkly to something else in the future. But running is what he loves to do, so it’s a no-brainer to start in the field, especially if there is fertile ground. Start from there, and aim high, Martin. Sky is the limit! 🙂