SMI #005: Build a Coaching and Ticketing Platform for Solo Sport Athletes

Initial focus on Boxing, MMA and Track & Field athletes who want to sell workout regimens and event tickets

Pitch in a Tweet:

Platform for athletes competing in non-team sports to sell tickets and training regimes to fans. Empower solo athletes to grow and monetize their niche followings without the backing of a major promotional umbrella like UFC (MMA), Golden Boy (Boxing), or Diamond League (track).

Thesis: Supply Side (Athletes)

The Haves and Have Nots

  • Pro athletes in individual sports struggle to monetize their elite talents if they are ranked outside of the top 1%

  • Less than 1% of all professional boxers earn more than a million dollars per year, the lowest 10% of all professional boxers earn less than $19K per year

  • For track and field, runners ranked just outside the top ten (11-25th) earn anywhere from $10K to $60K annually

    • Takeaway: If you are ranked just 10 positions behind Anthony Joshua (boxing), Khabib Nurmagomedov (MMA), or Eliud Kipchoge (Marathoner) in your weight class or event there’s a solid chance you are living paycheck to paycheck and…

Working the Night Shift

  • Many solo sport athletes are forced to pick up second jobs to make ends meet since the paydays are both small and unpredictable

  • Some examples include…Lance Brooks (Discus Thrower) who worked in construction, Jazmine Fenlator (Bobsled Driver) who was a dog walker, Jonathan Cheever (Snowboarder) who moonlit as a plumber

    • Takeaway: Mid tier solo athletes would welcome more opportunities to monetize their crafts rather than seeking employment elsewhere

Athlete and Promoter?

  • Non-PPV fighters are given a portion of their own card's tickets to sell to family, friends, and fans in hand-to-hand transactions (I’ve purchased tickets from fighters before and it’s not a great transaction experience… “cash or Venmo?”)

  • A common complaint amongst mid tier fighters is having to coordinate ticket purchases as their fight camp winds down and they are cutting weight

    • Takeaway: Athletes want a piece of the fight gate but don’t want to push tickets like a scalper outside the Garden

Thesis: Demand Side (Consumers)

Niche, but fucking PASSIONATE fans

  • Fight fans rank higher in engagement and consumption than major team sports

  • DAZN (boxing, pool, and e-sports streaming service) doubled it’s subscribers to 8 million in 6 months and increased revenues 121% YoY

    • Takeaway: Combat fans and track and field fans are smaller in number than major team sports, such as basketball, football, and soccer, but more fanatical in nature

Loyalty to Solo Athletes is Often > Than Loyalty to Teams

  • Professional fighters and track athletes have strong local followings, building fans in smaller, more intimate venues when they first make the jump from amateur to pro

  • Many of the people in the audience who bought tickets feel a strong connection, either personally or regionally, to the athlete (think: have you ever seen a Mexican or Irish flag at an NFL or NBA game?)

  • Local fights (say, in New England) organize busses for communities to travel together (say, from CT to Boston), all of whom bought tickets directly from the athlete beforehand

    • Takeaway: Solo sport athletes travel well and invest in the athletes they like

Hobbyists Hungry for Workouts

  • Sub reddits for boxing and track fans feature AMAs (“ask me anything” sessions) with pro athletes; the most common questions are about training regimens

  • Some pro athletes sell training plans, but they are often purchased on clunky personal websites lacking payment gateways, video libraries, and subscription options; coaching is common for people training for a marathon or Ironman; the program cost is usually in the ball park of $100 to $150 per month and done over email, facetime and text with ugly PDF guides

  • People who have personal trainers LOVE when their trainer is an accomplished athlete and they can brag about; I think I know between 3 and 7 people who learned how to throw a left hook from a guy who was knocked out by Tyson in the New York State Golden Gloves

    • Takeaway: Many solo sport fans are dedicated weekend warriors in their own right, and looking for technical guidance

Back of the Napkin Market Sizing

Kinda Biased Competitive Landscape

How It Makes Money

Waves This Rides

  • Direct-to-fan media engagement:

    • Patreon, Cameo, and podcasts by anyone with a working microphone and half a brain; people will tune in to listen and learn from niche experts

  • Player empowerment movement:

    • Fans are increasingly prioritizing individual player news over team news

    • Players are increasingly calling the shots when it comes to their own branding and the contractual conditions they will work under

  • At home workout revolution

    • Throughout COVID people have been shelling out big subscription $’s for workout apps

    • Usage for cardio apps Strava and Zwift are off the charts; both recently raised big rounds on the backs of their COVID upticks

  • Increasingly specialized workouts

    • People use different workout applications depending on what they are working towards; you don’t use a booty-boot-camp app for yoga and you don’t use a cycling app for body building

    • Boxing loyalists want to learn from a boxing expert; track fans want to get their mile logs from someone who’s faster than them

Future Expansion Areas

  • Olympic sports (gymnastics)

  • Extreme sports (skateboarding, BMX, motocross)

  • Hobby games (archery, pool, darts, bowling)

Why This Might Fail

  • Offline to Online

    • Forces local events with physical tickets to go digital (at least in part)

  • Ruling Bodies:

    • Solo sport ruling bodies are notoriously fragmented and may cause roadblocks when it comes to using an athlete’s image

  • Network Effects / Chicken or the Egg

    • Athletes are less likely to spend time putting together a workout regimen or shooting a technique video if only 3 people will subscribe

  • Murder hornets:

    • Apparently real

Potentially Reliable Stuff I Read at 3 AM

Completely Irrelevant Post Script No Reputable Business Publication Would Allow

Get Hyped

Get Loud

Get Wise

“We’re Building Something, Here, Detective, We’re Building It From Scratch. All The Pieces Matter.” 

-Lester Freeman, The Wire

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