Where did the genesis/idea for your business come from?
Our business was conceived as an AFL Talent ID company, we had scouts located around the country who submitted reports using our custom built software. The software we had built was very powerful and became a product with value to professional and semi-professional clubs.
We sold our software to state league AFL clubs in 2018 and were contacted by junior clubs interested in using it. We didn’t feel the software we had would be appropriate for them but after listening to them and then speaking to junior coaches from many different sports we formulated the functionality for Partcipa8. As the name suggests we are looking to work with junior sporting clubs, coaches and peak bodies to assist them in retaining their participants.
The platform is designed with key findings around what drives participation in kids playing sport and centres on the philosophy of personalising their relationship with their sport. This is done by supporting the junior coach who plays such a crucial role in the journey of a junior sporting participant. It is also very respectful of the fact junior coaches are time poor volunteers who don’t always have a strong background in the sport.
Participa8 is a natural evolution in our journey, we started collecting and creating a data set to save the AFL industry money in talent id, Participa8 involves supporting junior coaches in collecting and creating data to support junior participants staying involved in junior sport.
What do you believe sets your business apart from those already in the market?
We believe participa8 is a truly unique product. Whilst there are many vendors promoting software to junior sporting clubs and peak bodies we have not seen one that is seeking to tackle the participation issue the way we seek to.
The essence of Participa8 in that it supports time poor coaches who are not always experts in the sport to provide detailed personalised feedback to every kid in a time efficient manner.
Participa8 is simple on the surface with a great user experience but behind that is a high level of sophistication with the dashboard and analytics provided to the junior coaches, clubs and peak bodies. Whilst these groups all benefit from working with Participa8 the system has a participant first focus and all decisions we make are with them in mind.
Participa8 wraps a layer of support around a junior coach with assessment guidelines, links to databases for training drills. During the course of the season it allows the coach to access / refer to the assessment to allow them more meaningful personal conversations with their players.
Each player receives a player profile at the end of the year which shows their improvement across a range of criteria, how their improvement contributes to the teams improvement, a comment from the coach and some goals for the following season, This profile is equally effective for all kids regardless of their ability level. From a peak body perspective Participa8 provides them with a data set they do not currently have access to and one which provides them valuable information to analyse as they monitor and asses their participation strategies.
What’s your key demographic?
We have identified junior sport (any sport) as the key focus, within that we believe the following are potential clients;
- Junior clubs
We have the flexibility to deal with individual clubs or peak bodies on behalf of their member clubs. Participa8 can be set up for any sport in a matter of hours and is designed to be flexible. We have also identified other opportunities along the product road map but first want to implement Participa8 and assess user feedback.
What are people most excited by about your product? What do they like most?
It’s been very encouraging, given its a problem not currently been solved we have had great feedback from junior coaches, committees, coaching coordinators / technical directors and peak bodies.
We were very pleased to take a phone call in the last week from a club implementing Participa8 where the coach spoke of it to the parent group, he reported that the feedback from the parents was overwhelmingly positive which was very encouraging.
We have also had junior coaches tell us if their club doesn’t purchase Participa8 they will themselves as they see it as a tool that will save them time and improve their coaching experience which was great to hear.
What have you learnt about yourself building your company?
It hasn’t gone in the direction I imagined when I commenced the company with my co-founder Chris Pelchen and Chris would certainly vouch for that. As I reflect on where we are now with Participa8 compared to our focus when we started I do see pieces of a jigsaw coming together that I couldn’t see at the time.
As a lot of other founders have noted you really need to be resilient and to really believe in your self and the product / service you are promoting as that belief will be severely tested multiple times and it’s up to you to deal with whatever comes your way.
Personally, I have become a lot better at seeking help and now work with a business coach, I only have 1 regret re my coach and that is that I didn’t start working with him a lot sooner.
Despite the hurdles, issues and problems that come I really do enjoy it and that is because I am very passionate about the problem we are trying to solve and about supporting junior coaches who are so important to our community.
As a business, what have been some of the biggest challenges have faced to date?
We have had several large issues since our inception. As mentioned we commenced business as an AFL Talent ID Network and had AFL Clubs, media and industry bodies as clients. Ultimately it was difficult to encourage the industry to change and we were not able to continue with the talent ID network. In the course of setting up the network we had software built to enable our scouts to submit reports to a central database.
We were able to sell that software to semi professional clubs around Australia but learnt some lessons around the architecture of the platform that we implemented when building Participa8.
There have also been challenges around the business model going back to our commencement and the overall evolution of our company, whist we could’ve done some things better there is no doubt that the learning from this have given us a strong grounding to launch and utilise Paprticipa8 to maximise its effect on junior sport.
Looking ahead to the next 12 months, what milestones do you wish to reach?
We see 2019 as a pivotal year for us, in the next 12 months we would like Participa8 in as many sports as possible which each sport benefiting from the learning we gather along the way. Whilst we have partnerships with several state bodies the current business model centres around the per club per team model, we would like to engage with a peak body on behalf of their member clubs to deliver a complete solution in this space.
We are also working on a couple of minor iterations to Participa8 to service different markets and when they are complete we look forward to promoting them. We believe in partnering with other platforms if they improve our offering to our clients, it’s been encouraging that we have been approached by some tech companies who share this view and we are working through a due diligence process currently to assess the opportunities. We are genuinely excited about where this can go and the effect we can have on junior sport.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
We believe that Australian sports technology companies provide some of the best tools for elite coaches and athletes. Geographically we are limited and as a company we wish to support other Australian companies in the space reach their full potential.
Anyone interested in getting involved with Participa8, feel free to contact them via email
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