How PlayerWallet Is Disrupting The College Sports Recruiting Industry

Pressure is a privilege.

That’s the mantra Davis McMurrain and the team at PlayerWallet live by. It’s understandable why they feel that pressure.

After all, they’re former college athletes and most of the small team is in their early 20s at the time of this interview. But, that doesn’t faze Davis and the team. Not at all.

Instead, they recognize the privilege they have to do something amazing in college sports. That is what drives Davis in his CEO role.

And as you’ll see, they don’t back down from the pressure.

Overview

Business Name: PlayerWallet
Website URL: PlayerWallet.io
Founders: Davis McMurrain, Bennett Spooner, Jason Marx
Business Location: Atlanta, GA, United States (HQ)
Year Started: 2022
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 4

Tell us about yourself and your business. 

I am 22 years old. As a former student-athlete, being one of the best linebackers in the state of Georgia in 2020, I understand the ups and downs of being a student-athlete expected to perform on all facets efficiently.

Even with great mentors, coaches, and parents – I often struggled on “getting ahead” when it came to getting recruited. While I understood the development side, I did not know how to brand and market myself to college coaches. That really hurt my chances of getting recruited to play at the United States Military Academy. I ended up tearing both labrums, in turn being the end of my athletic career. 

I created PlayerWallet with all this in mind and realized that fusing technology with the spirit of sports could be a game changer. This venture has taught me so much thus far about other people, but mainly myself.

To sum PlayerWallet up, it’s a sports technology company operating on a Hybrid Business Model, combining Software as a Service (SaaS) with a Direct Service approach. Essentially, we will have wearable tech and AI Tracking cameras at prospect camps to record and analyze the athletes. Afterwards, we create AAR’s (after action reports) for them to understand their performance in detail.

On the software side, the company focuses on providing comprehensive support to student-athletes through tools like PlayerScore, PlayerCard, and PlayerSuite, offering a holistic approach to their development. 

How does your business make money? 

Since PlayerWallet operates on a Hybrid Business Model, combining elements of Software as a Service (SaaS) with a Direct Service approach, we have multiple forms of revenue.

PlayerWallet Revenue Streams

I will use 2,000 paid customers and 10 colleges as its our projection for this year.

SaaS model: 

  • First paid 1,000 members will receive $99 Lifetime payment for basic membership ~ $99,000.
  • After this, we will have our major products and system running, switching into our base cost of $599/annual ~ $599,000. 

Enterprise (College): ~ $100,000 – $200,000/annual 

  • Depending on Division (NAIA, D3, D2, D1) prices will range from $10,000-$20,000/annual.

Direct Service: 

  • For combine evaluations from the team we take 20% fee from sign up fees, then receive the signup/contact list that we utilize for follow up sales. If a camp is $200/each with 75 people, PlayerWallet makes $3,000 then any subscriptions from after the camp. Planning on doing 20 camps this year ~ $60,000. 
  • We act as a lead gen for speed and agility trainers, as they pay us $150-$400 for sending them customers. For our example, if we do this 200 times with trainers, we could make $30,000-$80,000.

Commission-Based: 

  • Wearable tech partner: We make 25% off any tracking vest we sell for our partner, which is ~ $90. We take a mass approach to this, approaching teams and alumni to buy in bulk. If we sign up a club or team of 50 athletes, we make $4,500. If we sell 100 schools this year, we could make $450,000.

Conclusion:

While these are hypotheticals, I believe we have a very solid revenue plan. With these numbers, our total revenue would be ~ $1,488,000 in 2024

What was your inspiration for starting the business? 

The inspiration for starting PlayerWallet came from a deeply personal place. As a former student-athlete, I intimately understood the complexities and challenges of the sports recruitment process. My journey was not an easy one. I was a top linebacker in Georgia, playing in the highly competitive 7A school level, and was even scouted by the United States Military Academy – a testament to my hard work and skill on the field. 

However, life had other plans. I faced a significant setback when I tore both my shoulder labrums, a devastating blow that abruptly ended my football aspirations. This experience was a turning point. It was not just the physical pain of the injuries but the emotional toll of seeing my dreams slip away. I was suddenly thrust into an uncertain world, where the path I had so clearly envisioned for myself was no longer possible.

This personal adversity, however, planted the seed for PlayerWallet. In navigating the aftermath of my injuries, I realized that many student-athletes face similar uncertainties, albeit under different circumstances. The recruitment process is daunting, often lacking clarity and guidance. My struggles and experiences as a student-athlete provided me with unique insights into these challenges. 

I started PlayerWallet to bridge this gap. I wanted to use my understanding of sports and the recruitment process to create a platform that could guide and support other student-athletes. The goal was to develop a tool that could simplify the recruitment process, making it more transparent and accessible for athletes who might feel lost or overwhelmed, just like I did. 

In essence, PlayerWallet is more than just a business. It’s a solution born out of personal struggle and the ambition to make a positive impact in the world of sports. It’s about taking a challenging life experience and transforming it into an opportunity to help others. Starting this company was my way of giving back to the community and ensuring that student-athletes have the support and resources they need to navigate their journey with confidence. 

How and when did you launch the business? 

I started PlayerWallet officially in April 2022. The first iteration of PlayerWallet was simply the concept of monetizing student-athletes data through NFT’s.

As I started thinking about the question “do student-athletes actually NEED NFT’s to be successful? The short answer is no, it’s more about development and recruitment, while using emerging technologies as a catalyst of student-athlete success. 

Over the past year, we have created a product that our customers actually need, a platform that gives them a “blueprint” aka actionable steps to success. 

Tell us about your team. 

PlayerWallet has a five-person team. We believe in the “hive mind” approach. As we are a young team, inexperience has been a big obstacle for us to overcome. To combat this experience curb, it takes pure man power with the ability to ask the right questions. You will never find the right answers if you don’t ask the right questions. 

  • Davis primarily works on product development, investment, and operations – even though he works on just about anything and everything that is needed.
  • Bennett is heading up sales with Davis, as well as focusing on generating ideas/products with Web3 integration.
  • Jason is an operations guy, being the detailed and organized one of the team – also helps with product dev, especially when it comes to education.
  • Josh Bell is our networker, he will walk into a random building and pitch the person in front of him.
  • Josh Robbins is our data analyst/product developer for the PlayerScore with a focus on baseball. 

How are you funded? 

Bootstrapping has been our best option. With money, anything is easier. Without money for months, you learn how to market, sell, and create so much more proficiently. Since we have reached a level of maturity, I will be raising $100,000 in our friends and family round. 

How did you acquire your first customers? 

We have gotten initial traction through prospect camps with the University of Tampa and FCA. We are now partnering up with large premier lacrosse clubs as they will give us access and also promote us to the student-athletes in their organization. 

Tell us about your primary driver(s) for growth. What worked for you in the beginning? What’s working now? 

I would say my biggest driver is my discipline. Discipline isn’t fun… it’s actually quite miserable at times, but it keeps me going. At the start, I was reckless with my work hours, often putting in 14+ hour days and it took a toll on me. While it was highly productive, it killed my creativity and my work flow. 

I still work 12+ hour days, but I don’t do the same monotonous task. I switch it up, work hard, watch a podcast, workout, and eat healthy food. Then back to the task at hand. This allows me to harness my creativity and actually direct it in the direction I want. 

How do you see your business evolving in the next five years? 

In addition to PlayerWallet, I believe when I did my first trademark, I did not see the true vision of what PlayerWallet could be. I would like to rebrand to a company with an overarching name that has three Pillars: 

  • PlayerWallet: compensation for performance for athletes aka NIL (Name, Image and Likeness).
  • PlayerSuite: Everything I’ve talked about technology and development wise. 
  • PlayerAgent: Our application-only recruitment service at a much higher price. The idea is once we learn exactly what the colleges want, the PlayerAgent will employ a plan for the aspiring student-athlete to understand every single granular aspect a coach is looking for. This will increase our success rate of getting recruited substantially.

How do you stay motivated during tough times? 

I have a tattoo in traditional Chinese that states, “The mightiest warrior is he who conquers himself.” This quote from Confucius is so important to me because it makes me realize that I am the only one who will ever hold myself back. No matter the external forces, reflect and learn how to defeat the task at hand. 

It boils down to discipline and realizing no one is there to save you. I control my destiny, but it took me a long time to realize that. And I am still trying to piece the puzzle together. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

My co-founder and best friend, Bennett Spooner, once told me something I’ll never forget: “Pressure is a Privilege.” This phrase has stuck with me ever since. 

Back at the University of Tampa, we were working with the lacrosse team to get some real-world feedback for our upcoming product launch. I kind of hoped the coach would let me speak to the parents and athletes, but it wasn’t a sure thing. 

So, I was chatting with a parent outside the room about our company, and suddenly, Bennett comes out and says, “Hey, the coach wants you to talk about our company to everyone.” My heart skipped a beat. It felt like all my prep just flew out the window, and I was worried I’d totally botch it. 

I’m not one to back down from a challenge, but I must’ve looked really freaked out. That’s when Bennett said, “Pressure is a Privilege.” It hit me then – it’s normal to be nervous in these situations. I knew our company inside out, believed in our team and our product. Bennett’s words just helped me see that clearly right when I needed it.

Even now, I often tell myself “Pressure is a Privilege.” It’s a reminder that a bit of pressure is part of the journey to doing something great. 

Can you share a surprising fact about your startup journey that most people don’t know? 

Back about a year ago, we did not have a working website, no product, no traction, and no money. Regardless, I knew we needed to start building our customer research plans. 

Josh Bell identified a gentleman, Coach Mark Penn, the defensive coordinator for University of Tampa Lacrosse, and began forming a relationship with him. We spent hours on the phone and in person asking a thousand questions so I could truly learn what coaches want and need.

After their season, we had a great relationship with Coach Penn ,but he ended up retiring from Tampa. I thought all that work and effort was dead in the water while trying to sign our first college. 

Without us knowing, in his last meeting to say goodbye, he mentioned me and the company to all of the coaches. He explained we are really great guys and would be a valuable resource to Tampa. I get a call from the Head Coach, asking if we want to come down for 2 camps (100 athletes each) and speak with the parents and athletes to start our efforts of validating our product. 

Coach Penn vouched for us because he saw our ability to listen and observe people while also appreciating our product approach. This one action led the University of Tampa to be our first partner and one of our biggest supporters – even without a website. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a founder/entrepreneur? 

Being a founder is like embarking on a thrilling journey where the destination is not just success but personal and communal growth. For me, the most rewarding aspect is the freedom to bring ideas to life without any constraints. It’s the joy of creating something meaningful, like “PlayerWallet: Built by Players, for Players – Powered by Technology,” and witnessing its positive impact on the sports community. 

Moreover, there’s a unique satisfaction in overcoming challenges. The journey of entrepreneurship is filled with obstacles, and each one conquered is a testament to resilience and determination. It’s not just about reaching goals; it’s about evolving, learning, and making a difference. The blend of creative freedom, positive impact, and personal growth makes the role of a founder incredibly fulfilling.

Our Co-Founder, David Domzalski, is a Strategic Advisor for PlayerWallet.

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