Four weeks ago Sweden saw the birth of a potentially very interesting new platform, Sportswik. After talking to the founder, I think the platform could provide an innovative solution for thousands of little league and small time/scale sports teams who are struggling to stay funded and raise awareness
Sportswik is what you could think of as an online sports media magazine that hosts coverage for all those who lack the attention from larger media providers. The content is crowdsourced by the readers themselves, taking advantage of the massive availability of smart mobile technology.
Value through visibility
First of all, small Swedish teams (though I doubt the issue is limited to Sweden) rarely break the headlines except perhaps a blurb in the local paper. The nations premiere league and its players are the ones to get the real glory but this doesn't mean small time players, like your floorball or football team wouldn't mind some coverage. Just like positive feedback on a good book report or a thumbs up from your boss for a well done job can keep you on the right track, so can media support and visibility make a huge difference in any athletes personal motivation.
Sportswik provides fans and supporters with a platform where they can update their own coverage on their favourite teams, making game attendance both fun and inspiring. Fun because fans can take pictures, videos and/or type in reports of the games they go to watch, turning any cheering supporter into a freelance reporter if they so wish.
Its nice to see that its all in good spirit, but how does Sportswik ensure the freelance reporters will do the effort of providing quality content? Not to mention where’s the money to keep the cogs running?
The answer for both questions becomes clearer when we take a look at the other, perhaps even larger problem that Swedish little league teams face every year:
Sponsors are an option sure, but sponsorships don’t exactly rain from the sky for very small teams. Therefore, these teams rely heavily on sales to finance their activities. In Sweden it’s very common for teams to sell stuff like sausages, cookies and (oddly) underwear to their supporters, who are, in a great deal of the cases, the friends and families of team members. The teams get between 25-35% in commission for every sale they complete, the rest going to the companies who provide the goods.
To get some perspective on the size of the markets we’re talking about, Martin Wiklund, Sportswik founder and CEO, told us that one of the Swedish company who provides underwear for these sales saw an annual revenue of SEK 212 million last year, which is roughly €23.5 million.
And guess who’s doing most of the sales work? The same friends and families who end up buying the stuff. You can imagine how fed up they are with getting bugged to buy underwear or products they don't necessarily need every season, but they would want to see the key plays or results of the game.
Sportswik, as an alternative to this, proposes that the team supporters fund their team by buying a seasonal ticket that is valid for the 12 months following the purchase. The ticket gives free and unlimited access and usability of the Sportswik web and mobile platform, which means you can follow your nephew's team or the the whole league if you wanted to. The teams get 65% commission for a seasonal ticket sale, while the remaining 35% goes to Sportswik.
In order to make sure it’s not all up to good faith, those who wish to register are required to buy at least one seasonal ticket before they can use the services. When you think about it, that could mean 3-4 purchases per player, assuming the players closest relatives would be willing to pay. The current price of a ticket is set at SEK250, but SEK50 goes to taxation, so the cuts kick in at SEK200 - SEK130 for the team, and SEK70 for the company. Assuming each player brings in around 4 purchases, the team gets €57 for each member of the team. And on top of that they get the chance to have their own personal media channel.
Brilliant if you ask me. Brilliant if you ask them ↓
Sportswik has been under alpha and beta testing for a good 10 months now, but now they’re finally launched, including two sports; floorball and soccer. They currently have about 50 teams and some 600 members, but the numbers are picking up speed, which should only increase once the company starts scaling a little more.
First Sportswik will be focusing on making the platform spread in Sweden (which means adding new sports). However, Wiklund told us the company’s future awaits in the promised land of European football, the UK, a country which has over 230 000 soccer teams and some 7 million players, according to thefa.com.
The company has made it to this point both bootstrapped and backed by government public grants. Currently, Sportswik is in the middle of a seed round.
With 265 million active soccer players and 10 million soccer teams worldwide according to FIFA, Sportswik is looking at dizzying numbers to chew on, which only becomes even dizzier when you start adding in other sports. Little league teams worldwide are still managed in a very old fashioned way. However, with the help of technology, companies like Sportswik could change this for the better and for good.