Thursday, June 7th, 2007...11:00 am
Hyping Up Sportsvite
I often get blank stares or faint smirks when I tell people about Sportsvite. Yes, I also receive enthusiastic comments and praise but for this post it makes sense to highlight the haters. I don’t really mind as I can easily see how “myspace+evite for sports” can sound a bit trivial. Often, I go straight into full sales mode to try and tout the potential of Sportsvite. I’m cool with being my own hype guy or cheerleader. Part of a start-up is building credibility and legitimacy. If I just shrug my shoulders and mention that a start-up is fun and “we’ll see”, I’m living down to the expectation of being a flakey and delusional nerd.
I want to use this blog post to lay out the Sportsvite business. I like to describe Sportsvite as an activity-driven, locally-oriented, commercially-friendly niche social network. I’ll try to explain what I think that means.
SPORTSVITE SOLVES A PROBLEM
The goal of Sportsvite is to make it easier for adults to play sports. The opportunities to participate on teams and in activities and meet other people who play similar sports diminish once you begin your professional career. A child has the options of school teams, little leagues, travel teams or just going down to the park to find a game. In college there are still options to play varsity sports, club teams, intramurals or pick-up games at the rec center. Once a person enters the working world their social circle shrinks and there free time is drastically reduced. Sports activities are one of the first things to be neglected by a hectic schedule. Sportsvite creates a solution that will allow adults to continue to be passionate about sports and enjoy the thrill of competition and physical activity.
THE FUTURE OF HOW PEOPLE USE THE INTERNET
Digital media, new technology and social networking make it easier to obtain information, connect with others, and communicate within your communities. The first-generation social networks, such as Friendster and Myspace are novelties to the user and for the most part are entertainment based lacking substantial value. Sportsvite is a “next generation” social network. It is based on utility (finding athletes and organizing activities) and provides a service that allows a member to go online to influence their real life actions. Sportsvite is both a niche and local community in that users are looking for a specific type of person (somebody in their area who plays similar sports) and expect they will be able to easily find them. Hyper-local is a big internet buzz word these days. It means that people want to receive accurate and timely local information about their neighborhoood. This includes news about local ordinances, town meetings, events and even sports activities.
People will grow tired of messing around on MySpace. There MySpace experience has equipped them with the understanding and know-how of social networking. They will next seek out communities that are real and help provide the solutions to a specific goal; how can I improve my sports life.
Perhaps it is not all that common today for people to go online to find other athletes. This will take off as people become more accustomed to building online relationships. Pick-up games (getting together with strangers to create a more competitive and enjoyable experience) has been a part of sports for as long as anybody who plays sports can remember. The idea of having access to other players will facilitate relationships and drive a new communication method. The internet is perfect at making things more efficient and easier to accomplish. It is very natural for tennis player who regularly competes with a few friends to want to branch out and play other opponents and face new challenges. Sportsvite will allow them to do this.
I like to use the example of dating websites (J Date, Match.com). These websites were non-existent 10 years ago, but they are now tremendously popular. Many of my sisters friends have met their husbands on J-Date. Dating sites provide a new avenue to meet people. Sportsvite also does this. The great thing about Sportsvite is that it does this in a much more natural and inclusive manner. Most people would agree that it is easier to meet somebody at the gym than it is to go on an “internet date”.
THE SPORTSVITE BUSINESS MODEL
Sportsvite revenue will come from advertising and commerce. The advertising and sponsorship money will be there if we hit our projected growth. Sportsvite will allow brands and marketers to reach an active, young, social, career-motivated audience that are active consumers. Top marketers and brands such as Nike, Coke, Anheuser-Busch, Subway, etc. spend billions each year on adverting to that demographic. If a brand wants to reach active recreational sports players, Sportsvite will provide the solution. In fact, advertising revenue is so attractive that we do not need to charge members to use the basic Sportsvite services. Commerce will also grow as the site matures. Sportsvite will sell all types of goods and merchandise to for over 125 sports on Sportsvite. Since we know what sports our members are playing and when they are playing we should be able to effectively target these consumers.
SPORTSVITE CAN WORK WITH BIG MEDIA COMPANIES
The environment for online start-ups is ripe. There is a ton of capital floating around to help companies cover investment costs and get up on their feet. Starting costs for digital ventures are already minimal compared to other businesses. The environment for online social networks is in a frenzy. Many believe this kind of two-way communication is the future of the internet. Bigger media properties don’t move as quickly as start-ups but they do realize they are falling behind and need to find ways to maintain their audience and provide them with the media and content that will keep their attention. This has made them keenly interested in social networks. The environment for sports social networks is on fire. Fantasy sports is arguably one of the first and most successful online communities and has become a huge billion dollar industry. Media companies are looking for ways to further activate and stimulate conversation and activity by fans and athletes. Fannation, MaxPreps, Rivals.com, Takkle and ArmchairGM have all been acquired or received serious funding from large sports media entities.
Sportsvite is unique in that it is not in direct competition with networks that are competing for sports fans. Instead it focuses on recreational athletes – an area where we believe there is currently a void in information and content. We’ve had meetings with just about every big sports media property out there. They are interested in our vision, in our technology and functionality, our ability to understand and execute the phenomenon of social networking, and the potential to power recreational sports sections.
I hope this clearly states how I believe sportsvite will grow and monetize its community, and fit within its industry. Hit me up if you have any questions or ideas.