Ben, our VP of Business Development and puppy-provider, has jumped on the blog for us to give a little introduction to himself and the sporting landscape as he has experienced it. He talks about how the relationship between sport and technology has changed over the years in his eyes, and has a brief look at what the future could hold…
In June 2014 I reached my tenth year in work. I am in shock, the time has gone by so quickly! Maybe it is because luckily I have been involved in 5 fantastic organisations in one exciting sector.
Old school 2004 – 2011
My first four roles were at sports governing bodies, fantastically rewarding roles, working in organisations that provide the framework for sport to happen; education, competition, membership, participation growth, rules and regulations, support to the club community, the list goes on and is difficult to prioritise!
The challenge throughout this period was growing sport, and importantly evidencing it. With fragmented routes for sport to be delivered and marketed, it is a difficult task – particularly when the sports participant has so many different things to consume! I remember thinking at the time that there must be better ways of doing things. My gut told me that it was through technology but for some reason the sector seemed under supplied with great technology.
New school 2011 – 2014
The second part of the decade led me to technology, working with companies that help empower sports event organisers and more recently sports coaches to run their business more successfully via technology. The crossover between the ‘old school’ and the ‘new school’ has been fascinating.
From my National Governing Body days I remember the issues that sports coaches had managing the day to day running of their ‘business'; they are incredibly passionate and knowledgable about their sport, but bored and frustrated by the admin, chasing money, paperwork and organising people (rightly!)
Even back in 2004, it was obvious technology was going to be increasingly more important to sport. Obvious right? It’s very easy to forget facebook was founded February 2004.
Growth is challenging when you don’t have an online presence, reputation and a simple way of taking bookings, enquiries and payments from potential participants. It’s difficult and confusing for everyone – whether you are a single coach or a collection of coaches.
There are so many examples of new technology companies supporting, empowering and growing completely new industries. Communities of people sharing their expertise, knowledge and assets to create new incomes or expand existing. I get pretty excited about the potential in companies like AirBnB, BorrowMyDoggy, Tinder (I am not single, but a bit of vicarious tindering is great fun) but a company that helps sports coaches, brilliant!
The best thing is that by empowering a community of sports coaches, giving them the tools to grow themselves, you maximise their chance of success. Helping them to stay in sport and giving more people the opportunity to meet their perfect instructor.
Future School 2015 + ?
The fascinating thing about working in a tech company like upmysport is that whilst we have a core goal, we iterate quickly to make sure that we are able to provide valuable tools to our instructors and coaches. Being nimble, evidence based and reactive to peoples needs are hard baked in to the way we do things. Technology allows you that! Our core mission will not change, but how we deliver it is always subtly improving and developing.
The best thing is I know we will categorically show that our work has made a difference to the sporting landscape. I know that over the next ten years we will have had a progressively bigger effect on sporting participation and I can’t wait!
Oh and the icing on the cake, in the new and future school, you are allowed to have an office dog!