Student athletes have many opportunities for networking and marketing themselves. And connecting with alumni may help them make the most of these opportunities. NextPlay offers a unique platform for fostering these connections and more. Read about this unique offering in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
What the Business Does
Offers custom mobile platforms for teams and student-athletes.
CEO Kyle Mumma told Small Business Trends, “In some ways, the NextPlay platform resembles LinkedIn. It is a medium to share content and build professional connections. The primary difference is in the exclusivity of each community. A private affinity network for a particular team or program where networking and engagement are driven in part by shared experience as athletes.”
Providing an easy way for current and former athletes to connect.
Mumma says, “Our platform is a hub for former players to stay engaged with their team, for current players to learn from those who came before them, and for programs to build a legacy that lasts beyond the game into the rest of their lives.”
Business Origin Story
After working with student athletes at Duke University.
Mumma explains, “As an undergraduate at Duke University, I worked as a student manager for the men’s basketball team under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski. I remained on staff with the team after graduation. And then worked for the football team as well. Staying involved in Duke Athletics through graduate school at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
“After graduating from Fuqua in the spring of 2018, I had a full-time job offer from Deloitte (one of the nation’s four biggest accounting firms) in the firm’s consulting practice. And I was set to start in the fall. Then August came and I made a sharp turn. Instead of taking the job, I decided to focus my attention on finding a solution to the many challenges collegiate athletes face when it’s time to leave their sport behind.”
Getting their first customer.
Mumma says, “We had a number of schools express interest in our services early on. But ultimately it was a cold email to Campbell University that led to our first sale. The first dollar for a startup is always special. But particularly in an industry athletics where so many people act based on what their competitors are doing. We had to get a paying customer on board in order to have legitimacy. And Campbell was willing to take a risk on us that immediately helped us to onboard additional customers.”
Not hiring a CTO during the early stages.
Mumma adds, “There was pressure from investors, partners, and customers to bring development in house as quickly as possible and to hire an experienced CTO. But the cash position of the business simply made it impossible. Rather than rush into a relationship with an inexperienced CTO to placate those stakeholders, we built the foundation of our platform with a third-party development partner. Given our founding team’s lack of technical expertise, this easily could have backfired with a poorly made product lacking the necessary infrastructure for scale.
“Fortunately, we took the time to consider a wide variety of third party partners. And we consulted with technical experts in the space. Even though we did not have technical expertise in house, the cumulative expertise of our network allowed us to select a quality development partner and build an excellent product. We still work with our original development partner today.”
Waiting too long to grow.
Mumma explains, “Early on, we could have grown more quickly. There is a tendency to wait for customer feedback until the product is ‘finished.’ But in reality it is never truly finished. The sooner a minimum viable product gets to the market, the sooner you can get feedback that will be invaluable to the next iteration.”
How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000
Building infrastructure for college athletes to be compensated for their name, image, or likeness.
Mumma says, “If we had an extra $100,000, we would invest in our NIL infrastructure so that schools could tap into our powerful networks not just for alumni engagement, networking, and mentorship. But also to fulfill NIL opportunities.”
Knowledge from a legendary coach.
Mumma says, “The name and purpose of our company is inspired by legendary Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s “Next Play” philosophy that encourages players to look to the future instead of the past.”
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Image: NextPlay, Kyle Mumma