Featured Startup Pitch: FieldLevel is a private sports social network for college coaches and professional scouts to identify talent

By Editor April 11, 2013
Kai Sato, FieldLevel

FieldLevel_logoCompany: FieldLevel

Website: www.fieldlevel.com

Founders: Brenton Sullivan, CEO, and Kai Sato, president

Headquarters: Santa Monica, California

Year Founded: 2008

Investor: Reid Dennis, founder of Institutional Venture Partners (IVP)

Twitter: twitter.com/fieldlevel

Facebook: facebook.com/fieldlevel

Blog: blog.fieldlevel.com

Company Overview: Private sports social network for college coaches and professional scouts to identify talent.

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Kai Sato, FieldLevelBy Kai Sato, co-founder and president

Product Overview

FieldLevel is the exclusive, social network dedicated to sports recruiting that connects coaches and helps teams find athletes that best fit their programs. Teams use FieldLevel to identify and evaluate athletes more effectively. For athletes, FieldLevel provides the first online gateway to successfully migrate from high school to college and even into professional sports. It’s the new standard for teams to find and attract better talent.

Founders’ Story

In high school my co-founder, Brenton Sullivan, knew he was good enough to play college sports, but went almost completely unnoticed by college recruiters. At the University of Southern California, he walked onto the varsity baseball team and later went on to earn an athletic scholarship. As a catcher, Brenton worked closely with his coaches and became obsessed with the recruiting process, and he was mentored by some of the nation’s top scouting minds. He recognized that recruiting had severe flaws that the Internet could solve. Brenton and I were business school classmates, and together we wrote a business plan that detailed how an exclusive, social network that connected trusted coaches could empower teams to easily find the right players. Our concept won ‘Best Business Plan’ from USC’s top-ranked entrepreneurial program.

We teamed up with technology veterans Cory Ducker and Jeremy Weir to found FieldLevel in 2008. Our team first introduced cloud-based software that allowed college coaches to store and access their private recruiting databases through any computer or smart phone. The software even protected coaches from committing accidental NCAA recruiting violations. We then introduced software for junior colleges which empowered them to proactively guide their athletes to ideal playing opportunities at universities. In January of 2012, FieldLevel launched its exclusive network which has led to coaches recruiting new territories and athletes awarded scholarships from programs previously beyond comprehension. Now a standard in baseball and utilized by the majority of all college teams, FieldLevel was awarded top honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Collegiate and professional teams now use FieldLevel to identify and evaluate athletes more effectively by connecting with trusted coaches across the country. FieldLevel makes it easy for recruiting coaches and pro scouts to find players who fit their needs. The exclusive network empowers junior colleges, high schools, and other promoting coaches to guide their players to ideal playing opportunities. For athletes, FieldLevel provides the first online gateway to successfully migrate from high school to college and even into professional sports. Unlike recruiting services, FieldLevel offers a free and objective way for an athlete, like Brenton once was, to successfully navigate their athletic careers.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

Early on, we relied on events and direct marketing to grow our user base; now, our growth is driven by user virality. For example, when structured properly, a college coach and a high school coach have incentive to work collaboratively in facilitating the recruitment of a talented athlete. Because this synergy exists on FieldLevel, coaches invite each other, and the network grows through viral loops and word-of-mouth.

How We Differentiate From the Competition

The Internet is littered with do-it-yourself (DIY) recruiting websites and recruiting services where high school athletes pay a third party for exposure to college coaches. When you talk to college coaches and scouts, these are typically seen as either an insult or a punch line. FieldLevel is different in three key areas:

Quality-FieldLevel is built for coaches, derived from constant feedback from the top minds in recruiting and scouting; these are the only people capable of putting a prospective athlete onto a collegiate or professional team. It has become a vital resource for decision makers to not only identify talent but also to grow their Rolodex and make new connections that improve their work. FieldLevel is now even used in job interviews, similar to being proficient in Microsoft Excel in the finance industry.

Exclusivity-Not just anyone can join FieldLevel, it is only for coaches, scouts, and prospective athletes. All coaches and scouts are verified to ensure authenticity. Prospective-athletes must be invited to join by a coach. There are no fans or media; information is exchanged securely and privately.

Objectivity-Athletes cannot pay to join FieldLevel, and they cannot pay for more exposure once admitted to FieldLevel. In this way, FieldLevel accurately reflects the world of recruiting and scouting but makes it faster and more efficient.

Business Model

Similar to LinkedIn, FieldLevel is a free social network supported by a SaaS model. There are also significant opportunities in areas like content and data.

Current Needs

We are not raising capital, but are always looking for top talent to join our team. We are also exploring more strategic partnerships.

FieldLevel – www.fieldlevel.com