An Australian sports talent marketplace has discovered that their tech platform connecting athletic talent with supporters is raising the profile of female athletes.
Created by former Australian Football League stars James Begley and Matthew Pavlich, PickStar launched from South Australia in 2014 and has since initiated more than 1300 connections to elite talent and sports personalities in Australia, with access to a wider network of at least 3000 athletes.
It’s online platform is an automated booking process that allows consumers to select their preferred talent-including athletes in semi-professional sports-for guest speaking, appearances and promotions.
A request containing a brief and budget is sent directly to athletes who are notified through a PickStar app and then given the choice to engage with or refuse the opportunity.
“What PickStar has managed to do is use technology to solve the connection problem between the consumer and the talent,” founder and CEO James Begley said.
“We often have opportunities that are placed in the system and booked within an hour and a half or two hours, and that only occurs because of push notifications, our client-facing portal, and our live interaction between the two stakeholders.”
While the platform gives equal opportunity for male and female athletes, the ratio of female talent bookings is expected to rise in the coming months.
“What is happening in the marketplace is that female athletes are becoming more and more sought after,” Begley said.
In the weeks leading up to International Women’s Day in March, the company saw higher than usual bookings for female athletes.
“We had 30 bookings in one week, of which 27 were female athletes,” Begley said.
“So you can see how by putting the opportunities right in front of the client that they’re just as likely to select a female as they are a male.”
The platform also provides a way for semi-professional athletes to supplement their annual sporting contracts, as they are able to seek out and accept opportunities on a daily basis.
“It’s a no-brainer for talent because it’s free to sign up. It takes them about two minutes to fill the form out, and at the end of it, there are literally dollars for them,” said Begley.
“That’s almost what gives us the greatest satisfaction because semi-professional athletes are incredibly hungry for more commercial opportunities, and when they get the opportunity, they deliver outstanding results, and the clients are exceptionally happy with them.
“There’s the feel-good factor but it also makes good business sense”.
In the past year, the company has seen exponential growth in revenue and increased its staff numbers in Adelaide, with three full-time developers working on the platform.
“We always had a hunch that the market was out there and that the technology platform would solve the problem, but until you release the product and see the end-user interacting with your site, you’re never quite sure,” Begley said.
“We sort of released in June last year and just crossed our fingers for the first three weeks, but almost immediately the site was being used in the way we thought it would be.
“Since then, we’ve effectively tripled the size of the business in all areas in the last nine months, and we actually believe that will continue on this year”.
While PickStar has focused on a national strategy in the last year, Begley expects a push for international growth in the near future.
“Matthew Pavlich and I are heading to the US shortly to begin some early stage reconnaissance on what that market looks like and where the opportunities lie.”
Last year, the company raised A$1 million in funding which brought on sophisticated local and national investors, including internationally acclaimed sports stars and other startups with an American focus.
“We’ve got some smart money which we’re really excited about, because they’re not only providing investment but also all the support and guidance that goes along with funding a marketplace to play into another international market,” Begley said.