At their July 2017 meeting the Atlanta chapter of TiE hosted David Rudolph, founder and CEO of PlayOn Sports. They broadcast prep high-school games and other events by streaming them live on computers and other devices. Here’s the math. There are 19,000 high schools in the U.S. Forty-two percent of Americans are fans of high school sports. About 55 percent of high school students participate in sports. And untold numbers of people would pay to watch high school events on TVs, computers or mobile devices. Charge a license fee to schools to use PlayOn! Sports’ software and its expertise, and a nominal charge to some viewers, and it’s a formula that spells money.
What makes Rudolph’s story so unique is he was a research assistance at Turner Broadcasting at the time of the Time Warner merger. In an effort to create job for himself, Dave volunteered to put a few miscellaneous sports assets (including 35 excess Atlanta Braves games) together into a new cable channel later titled Turner Sports. That experience was pure corporate innovation and agile development as he single-handedly iterated the small channel into cable systems. As an independent decision-maker inside a large conglomerate, Rudolph played the role of Intrapreneur. When Fox bought the channel in 2008, he then jumped into individual entrepreneurship by creating a brand new market and for the first time offering high-school sports through the internet.
At his TiE talk July 12th, Dave compared becoming an entrepreneur vs. an intrapreneur to having a first baby. You read the books, prepare for the arrival, but when it comes, your life is completely turned upside down despite best laid plans. Money was always a concern and still is to this day. Over time PlayOn Sports has acquired rights to aggregate and produce high school sporting events distributed over TV, the internet, and mobile devices. Today, the company has 38 employees and earned $10 million in revenue last year. They train high school students to operate their equipment and website. There are two million varsity events a year. Media rights are controlled by the individual high schools, and PlayOn Sports licenses their technical platform to the schools.
Dave’s experience was as pure a transfer from Intra to Entre-preneurship as we’ve come across. It proves there are always opportunities for new value creation and niche marketing. And, what a target market, three times as many people attend high school sport events every year as college and pro combined.
For more on the story – http://www.playonsports.com/pr/2013-6-1.php