HItpost Imac
San Francisco startup Hitpost is bringing a new approach to following your favorite sports and teams. Cofounder and chief executive Aaron Krane said investors call it “Flipboard for sports,” comparing it to the popular iPad newsreading app. Today, the company is launching its website in a private beta test.

(If you know all about the site already and just want to get an invite, skip to the last paragraph of this post.)

Hitpost already announced its iPhone and Android applications, but Krane said the website should provide a complementary experience. The mobile apps create a way to check Hitpost when you’re on-the-go or in front of the TV, and more importantly, they’re a tool for users to upload their own photos and comments. Hitpost on the Web, on the other hand, is really a pure consumption experience, say if you’re in the office and want to check on the latest scores.

The concept seems to be catching on with early testers, who spend an average of 18 minutes on the site, Krane said. That’s a really high number — for example, it’s twice the engagement of ESPN.com, according to measurement service Alexa.

What’s keeping those users around? For one thing, Hitpost doesn’t look like any other sports site I’ve seen. It has a slick design (which is, yes, reminiscent of Flipboard) that loads quickly and is dominated by good-looking photos. As Krane put it, “Text is boring.”

And the sport and team pages are constantly updated with new content. Right now, a lot of that comes from the RSS feeds of other sports publications, but as the mobile apps roll out (they should be available soon, assuming they don’t hit speed bumps in the Apple approval process), more and more content should come from users.

The company has raised a little more than $500,000 from Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures, and angels including Keith Rabois, Shervin Pishevar, and Naval Ravikant.

If you want to check out the site, you can visit this URL to get the invite for VentureBeat readers. The URL will only be available until midnight tonight, January 12, so after that you’ll have to find a friend on Hitpost to invite you, or sign up for the waiting list. The Hitpost site will probably open to the public in a few months, Krane said.