eFieldhouse (EFH) is an exclusive, invite-only, online social and services network for professional athletes who seek to connect, maintain and build new relationships, to identify unique employment and endorsement opportunities and to use tailored concierge services (e.g.- financial planning, matchmaking and a preferred access program for novel sporting goods and services). The company’s initial focus will be on mid-market up-and-coming players.
Management: John Wolff started EFH while playing professional baseball in the minor leagues for the Chicago White Sox and the New York Mets. John graduated from Harvard University in 2006 and is a self-taught software programmer proficient in PHP, Ruby and Java programming languages. The Director of Business Development, Steve O'Sullivan, has an MBA from Pace University and the Director of Marketing and Brand Management, Ian Church, has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Stetson University. Steve and Ian have each played over five years of professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals, respectively. Matt Tindall, the company’s primary business advisor, has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and 12 years experience in corporate development.. Matt was an NCAA athlete in Track & Field at Michigan State University.
Professional athletes are increasingly isolated from the use of commonly accepted communication tools, social networks (e.g.- Facebook, Twitter, etc). These important technologies allow members of the general public to stay connected with each other and to achieve social efficiencies, leverage and influence associated with large scale public networks. High profile professional athletes, for fear of vulnerability to the media, typically avoid such networks due to the possibility of negative consequences to their lucrative careers. The risk is not currently worth the reward.
However, a growing inability to stay connected to broader social networks, in a “connected” world, is of particular concern to professional athletes because they often live on the road and are frequently subject to business decisions outside their immediate control, including: trades, promotions, demotions, and other roster changes related generally to a heightened global competitiveness in sports.
At the same time, player’s unions and player’s organizations that have historically fought for athlete’s rights, have continued to lose influence and leverage over leagues, teams and policies while player’s agents and corporate sponsors continue to gain influence.
Therefore, professional athletes are more in need of private, secure, high-value connectivity and methods of collective or communal empowerment than at any point in recent sporting history.
Products and Services:
EFH primarily provides an ultra-secure, invite-only, private online network for professional athletes to connect without interference from the media, fans, and/or third-party solicitations. EFH will initially provide placement services (i.e.- jobs and marketing opportunities) to players and expand its offering over time to provide other high-end concierge services to its clients. These services will include: financial planning, an on-call agent (eAgent), business incubation services (for entrepreneurs), online dating, event planning, sponsorship and endorsement assistance, volunteer and mentorship opportunities, preferred product trial opportunities for novel sporting goods products and an extensive alumni network.
EFH will use multiple sources of authentication including submission of a resume, references from prior teams, possibly advanced key-fob technology, etc to verify an athlete’s past or current professional status and enable entry to the site so they feel comfortable and empowered in their environment. EFH will be the global clearinghouse for professional athletes flattening the agent cost structure and improving the economics and opportunities for our athletes.
EFH focuses on the global professional athlete market. Although considered somewhat small, the professional athlete market in the US on any given year consists of approximately 100,000-plus individuals adding approximately 25% more players each year (4X WW). In addition, there are thousands of players who elect to retire, are demoted or otherwise leave their sport each year. EFH’s alumni organization will be an important aspect of the company’s growth. EFH was successfully launched in March 2008 and has more than 500 registered professional athletes (beta members).
EFH customers are its professional athletes and alumni, marketing companies, sponsors and advertisers and employers/teams who want access to our athletes and service providers (e.g.-financial services).
Sales and Marketing Strategy:
Professional athletes often adopt a reclusive posture with regard to conventional marketing tactics due to the persistent demands for attention by fans and solicitations by corporate representatives. EFH has discovered through primary market research that professional athletes respond optimally to informal contact regarding new opportunities from their friends and acquaintances.
EFH intends to leverage the power of these influencers to evangelize the site and seed the market with our product. We intend to deploy a multi-layer marketing strategy which involves providing financial (or other incentives) to current professional athletes ("field agents") to spread the word about EFH to their teammates across professional sports. Incentive payouts are limited and based on pre-defined performance metrics (traffic, continued use, time spent per visit, etc)
EFH will offer its “basic” website for free to build the community and establish the brand with athletes. Beyond basic social networking services, we envision multiple revenue streams from premium subscription services: 1.) job placement/endorsement fees, 2.) resume consultation fees, 3.) agent access fees. Upside not accounted for in current models: targeted advertising, online dating, financial services, business services (i.e.- incubation/VC), etc
EFH is the only private online network designed to connect pro athletes across all sports, to verify current or past professional status, to provide a secure entry mechanism, to offer proprietary and discrete services to the athletes and to maintain an alumni organization.
A private website named ProPlayerConnect (PPC), focused on the NFL, is the only known competitor to EFH. PPC connects businesses to athletes and acts as a broker for endorsement deals.
In 2007, Greycroft Partners ($1.5M) and Sports Illustrated (NA) invested in Takkle, a public sports networking site geared towards amateur athletes, at a $20M valuation. Aside from this example there are very few sites with a similar mission (e.g.- zAthlete).
EFH is being built by professional athletes for professional athletes - to provide ”connectivity” with legitimacy. EFH has built a beachhead with mid-market baseball players, a sport with high numbers of total participants and high attrition rates. This entry point for a professional social network is focused and will become viral as players and alumni depend on the maintenance of personal and professional networks and relationships for their livelihood. Further, baseball’s farm system is mature and access to future “stars” is relatively high - a key success factor with sponsors and agents. This entry point, coupled with our growing membership base, our focus on keeping alumni in the loop, the use of member authentication and the provision of “high-end” concierge services give us a clear advantage versus competition.