Famer and the National Basketball Players Association launched the new NBPA Training Ground channel presented by Spalding for all skills levels to “Train with Us” on the app at a time when COVID-19 has shut down youth sports nationwide. Coronavirus can’t stop this NBPA virtual learning experience hosted on Famer’s sports coaching and mentorship mobile video platform from enabling young basketball players the ability to engage with professional players and top trainers and coaches. Kids and parents are able to communicate with these hoops experts on the fundamentals, drills and skills training, as well as strength and conditioning. Youth can also raise game iQ and boost confidence through the short form videos created by NBPA members including Aaron Gordon, Andre Drummond and others in addition to NBA caliber trainers the likes of Chris Matthews and Tim and Ross Burns. The Sports Techie community blog chatted with Rich Abend, Co-Founder and CEO at Famer, about this Phase 1 launch and what Phase 2 will look like come fall. Today’s news out of New York was to showcase this sports business partnership for the US audience followed by expansion around the world in the next several months. In September of 2019, I spoke with Super Soccer Stars about Famer’s personalized coaching platform so it was nice to get a biz dev update from Abend.
Famer is community for a sports club/organization, coach or trainer to host and distribute a library of custom training content.
Abend’s co-founders are in Tel Aviv, Israel where the tech was built by video experts. His team structured their sports tech business similar to AirBnB in that they help users such as coaches and clubs retain a book of business. Famer ultimately helps to organize a channel, then track and train over the digital platform. Another core competency is to market coaches and the NBPA to reach end users. Coaches get the majority amount of revenue according to Abend.
Famer’s phase 1 allows for two-way communication, telestration and voice-overs, and is close to real life coaching, however, it is not live streaming with a coach say with Zoom. Today, a coach can tell an athlete to work on this skill, then ask him or her to show what they did with help of family and friends who can assist with recording their efforts. Abend said, “Engagement on Famer 1 is incredible, it offers both personalization and customization for training.”
Until COVID is over, Phase 2 will either involve kids back on the court and Famer will enhance what they do, or else, the company will replace what youth basketball used to look like if the next wave proves to be more deadly than the first. Abend is based in the disease’s hotbed of New York City which helps him relate to each possibility intimately. With so many people out of work, discretionary income is low making Famer’s ability to generate revenue viable with either post-COVID scenario.
NBPA Training Ground
“Since entering the league, I’ve come to really appreciate the importance of the fundamentals I learned as a kid,” said Gordon. “While in-person youth camps and clinics are temporarily paused, I’m excited that I can still help kids train and pass along some of the tips and drills that I have picked up throughout my basketball career.” Look for his instructional videos at the NBPA Training Ground.
For about $15 dollars a week, players can upload their own videos on the interactive platform then receive direct feedback from the best players and trainers in the world with the goal of using workout and reps to improve your crossover, use an offhand better or shoot more efficiently from the elbow. Learning how to play the game and workout properly are worth the cost of membership which runs $60 for an hour and a half of training over a month when most experts in the basketball, soccer and lacrosse space charge anywhere from $80 to $150. This package also uses AI to capture data over time. As more info is analyzed, NBPA members can use it to give better direction to players. This also helps make better coaches, and provides more personalized content aimed to accelerate the use of video to improve speed, agility and athleticism for young kids up to D1 college players. Individual sessions can also be purchase for $100.
“The current issue of social distancing in youth sports also brings the opportunity for innovation and engagement with kids in a truly unique way,” said Abend. “This partnership with the NBPA is a great example of how to bring curated communication and training from the world’s best athletes and trainers directly to kids via their mobile phones. It will help kids stay active and connected through COVID-19 but also will continue to grow in the coming months and years for athletes of every skill level around the world.”
Abend grew up in the Bronx and says as a result, he wants to be sure to make this program affordable as he knows how challenging it can be to pay for elite level training. He says the NBPA Training Ground also helps with socialization of the players both on court and off the court. By thinking the game better, players will perform better, raise their hoops iQ and executive functioning.
At the same time, Famer wants to assist coaches and trainers make a living. The revenue share with coaches and trainers makes net cost zero for them, there are no additional usage fee.
THINK450 executes the vision for NBPA. The NBPA advocates on behalf of the best interests of all NBA players, including the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, the filing of grievances on behalf of the players, or counseling players on benefits, educational and post-NBA career opportunities. Business opportunities are generated by THINK450, the subsidiary of the NBPA charged with managing the players’ group licensing rights.
“Over the last few years, our NBPA youth camps and training clinics have given us the opportunity to make a positive impact in grassroots basketball in major cities like New York and Los Angeles,” said Dan Gladstone, SVP of Grassroots Basketball & Business Development for THINK450, the for-profit arm of the NBPA. “This collaboration with Famer allows us and our members to digitally connect with the larger grassroots basketball community throughout this pandemic, and also expand our reach and impact globally in the long term. We look forward to having kids of all ages and skill levels train with us and to finding ways to continue to innovate with our players and brand partners.”
Dedicated to preserving the legacy of its members, the NBPA Foundation provides support and assistance to persons, communities and organizations around the world that seek to improve the lives of those in need.
SPALDING® is the largest basketball equipment brand in the world. SPALDING® is the official basketball of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the official backboard of the NBA and NCAA Final Four. The SPALDING® trademark is owned by Russell Brands, LLC.
I asked about the ROI for Spalding as the presenting sponsor for NBPA Training Ground. Abend says not only is Spalding there at a time of need because of COVID, they benefit from the Famer 1 product in that kids can train with superstars and get access to them while increasing the use of Spalding basketballs in drills. There is a clear call to action and sales should benefit. Spalding’s reach to the grassroots community is enhanced with their good will of reaching kids around the world. By late Phase 1 and early Phase 2, increases in both eyeballs and impressions will result in engagement success, claims Abend. Spalding will also benefit from Phase 2’s low-cost subscription model as well. As social distancing is lessened and hopefully one day over, Famer is positioned to assist with generating sticky content for Spalding and other partners.
“Spalding is excited to partner with Famer and the NBPA to bring this program to young athletes all over,” said Jack Marquardt, VP Brand Communications for Spalding. “This partnership will enable aspiring players to have access to professional-level training at their fingertips, allowing them an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to take their game to the next level. Spalding is a proud sponsor of this program and hopes that this will continue to ignite the players’ passion for the game.”
Sports Techie, Phase 1 made Famer into the Peloton of youth sports. Now by adding a Zoom or Microsoft Team element to training, the model expands which makes investors eager to jump on board. Abend likens their short form mobile video to TikTok which today’s youth love because the videos are less than one minute long. The best coaches will use a video clip of LeBron James for example doing a passing or shooting drill and incorporate it into their own training film on Famer.
Their company goal is to have 8 to 9 sports involved by the end of the year. Look for a launch in the UK soon and more traction across Europe. New partnerships are coming in hockey, softball, baseball and volleyball. This fall the plan is to focus on American football too.
Abend says to dominate each sport may not be the best approach but what they did find was grabbing market share was easier than expected because their data structure was easily converted to another sport. The important elements were to make sure and understand each sports nuances and languages as well as aligning with key players. Martial arts and wrestling are in the pipeline as could be health and wellness down the developmental road.
Abend says the company story resonates with potential investors. They are in conversations to raise capital. Since COVID occurred, business has accelerated. He reflected back to March 12, 2020 when the NBA cancelled their season and his two kids had their playoff semifinals cancelled. Since then, in regards to coaching and distance learning, people are searching for that in droves.
An exit strategy is all about the vision Famer has in terms of coaching, teaching and training. This opens avenues to being acquired or even going public is on the table, as is doing a roll up with companies in the space. By building the best company in the first 10 years, there will be options to consider when they execute their plans.
Thank you to Rich for speaking with me today about Famer and the NBPA Training Ground presented by Spalding.
I hope you and yours stay safe in NYC.
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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