Launching a Sports Technology business whilst COVID-19 continues to have a stranglehold on the growth of professional sport, especially in Australia, to some may seem fanciful. But, to Playbk co-founders Jon Shepherd and Damian Hecker it’s a logical next step as they capitalise on the growth of Leaders of Evolution – the pair’s first start-up.
“Playbk has a clear focus – Helping elite sporting organisations reach more fans and generate revenue through SportsTech”Jon Shepherd, Co-founder at Playbk
“We’re taking a new approach to fan engagement by leveraging education as the central pillar to connect with new and existing fans. Elite sporting organisations are treasure troves of knowledge, and we are going to help clubs package this up in meaningful and authentic ways.” Shepherd said.
Since 2016 (under the banner of Leaders of Evolution) Playbk has forged partnerships with elite sporting organisations, not for profits and partners in the education sector to amplify their ability to connect with and positively influence their communities.
In the last six months alone Playbk’s partners; South East Melbourne Phoenix, Special Olympics Australia, Essendon Football Club, Gold Coast SUNS and Palm Beach Currumbin High School have collectively reached over 3,500 users with products targeted for schools students, athlete development, coach education and more.
Tommy Greer, CEO of South East Melbourne Phoenix (SEMP), sees this fan engagement approach as the perfect tool to reach new and existing fans of the National Basketball League (NBL) scale-up franchise.
The club’s first foray into fusing education and sport is the Take Flight courses, aimed at uplifting the performance and wellbeing of Year 8 & 9 students through their online portal – The Flight Path.
“With this approach we can look at fan engagement through a different lens. Every student, coach, athlete or corporate executive who enters The Flight Path will not only gain valuable insights to improve their craft, but also become exposed to who we are as a club and who our athletes and administrators are as people. By providing these meaningful experiences we aim to grow our brand and offer these ‘fans’ more opportunities to connect with SEMP.Tommy Greer, CEO at South East Melbourne Phoenix
Already these courses have seen over 1000 enrolments and have provided an engaging learning experience for young people learning from home due to the Melbourne lockdowns.
Greer goes on; “The feedback from schools is that the courses have been a great antidote and point of difference to a lot of the other online learning resources they have been using. Students can connect with the stories of our athletes and at a time when the development of wellbeing and resilience strategies is paramount for young people, they can learn from elite performers who have faced and overcome various challenges in their lives.”
Playbk co-founder Damian Hecker, a former teacher and sports administrator, is excited about what the evolution of this approach to fan engagement might look like. “Online learning courses are very impactful, and their on-demand nature allows the learner to engage with these at any time. We can imagine a future though that is much more real time, with direct access to sports stars, coaches and administrators in the moment.
“Imagine logging into the portal for an all-access pass to a training session that provides real time athlete data, followed up by a whiteboard session from a coach explaining elements of the session”Damian Hecker, Co-founder at Playbk
Elite sporting organisations are really only limited by their imagination as to how they can connect with more fans in authentic ways.” Hecker said.
Shepherd paid tribute to the work conducted under the Leaders of Evolution (LoE) banner and how important this business foundation was.
“Through LoE we connected with tens of thousands of learners through our own and our partners portals. This work has been incredibly important both to gain traction in the market, and for us to explore the possibilities of Sports Tech as a viable business option. LoE will continue to provide learning opportunities for young people all over the world, whilst Playbk can focus solely on the sports technology sector and connecting elite sport to new and existing fans.”
With crowds filling stadiums once again in North America, United Kingdom and Europe and with Australian sport having been able to absorb the biggest Covid blows to this point, you sense an air of optimism that Playbk is launching at the right time.
Shepherd believes the impact of Covid on the bottom line of elite sporting organisations must drive a re-think around commercial realities.
“This approach to Sports Technology not only represents a new and efficient way of connecting to fans, but it also adds a digital asset to the organisation which can be commercialised. Corporate sponsorship, e-commerce models and even state and national grants could be accessed to fund product development. This strategy can bring in revenue and amplify community engagement.”
Whatever the future does hold for sport globally, we know change is imminent.
As clubs look to recover and build from the impact the pandemic has had on cash flow and fan connection, this new approach to Sports Technology seems to be in the right place at the right time.
The future looks bright for Playbk.
Reach More Fans With World-Class SportsTech
Formerly operating as Leaders of Evolution, Playbk is a leading SportsTech company bringing dynamic, digitally enabled online learning content to new and existing fans.
Playbk works with your team by harnessing your logo, players, coaches and administrators and uses the power of those ‘brands’ to create learning opportunities that clubs can commercialise.
As SportsTech trailblazers, Playbk fuses education and fan engagement – at scale.
Playbk’s full-stack digital approach provides strategy, portal design and development, marketing and technology solutions that seamlessly work within and uplift existing business functions.
Playbk continues to focus on innovative solutions for organisations across elite sport, education and not-for-profits to connect with fans in authentic and meaningful ways.
At Playbk we create experiences that people remember.