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SA swimmer Natalie du Toit connected to new ICO to target amateur sports sector

Paralympic SA swimming star Natalie du Toit is working with Pretoria-based startup Sports Podium to launch an initial coin offering (ICO) to fund the first “knowledge-based digital sports economy” for sportspeople.

The ICO, which was to have taken place last year will instead take place in the next few months, says Sports Podium co-founder and COO Jaco Rossouw.

He told Ventureburn today that the high number of ICOs held last year would have made it difficult for Sports Podium to stand out from the crowd.

“There’s no set date yet, but the envisaged date is quarter two of this year,” he added.

Rossouw said Du Toit — who holds the role of community development officer (CDO) at the startup — will help recruit amateur sports players to the platform, which will effectively award amateur sports people that report their performance data with its POD tokens.

Sports people will be able to use these tokens to buy related goods and services as well as pay for advertising on various sports-related portals yet to be launched by the startup, while the company will also generate revenue through placing advertising on the platform.

Natalie du Toit’s success in sport will continue in business and she is instrumental in bringing ambassadors and friends on board, says Sports Podium co-founder

He claims that the startup is building the largest decentralised database for amateur sports data — targeting specifically those aged 13 to 25 years old.

“Her success in sport will continue in business and she is instrumental in bringing ambassadors and friends on board. She is also our first ambassador (swimming) as she is globally, well respected for the successes in her amazing swimming career,” he said.

He and fellow founder Robert Marshall are in talks with other successful sports people across various sporting disciplines to act as ambassadors to drive user adoption.

Levelling the playing field

Rossouw said the idea for Sports Podium emerged in 2010 when he arrived back from the UK after having worked there for six years. At the time he met an old school friend and talented athlete who had provincial colours in various sports.

“The reason he didn’t make it was because he was just living in various small towns and he didn’t have rich parents to send him to big schools,” he said.

This got him thinking that there must be a way that technology could help little known sports people to get ahead.

He then started MyRugbyCV, which used performance data gleaned from various school rugby players. By 2014 using the data from the platform he was able, together with the schools, to put together two teams of 22 rugby players to go on an international tour.

The problem was still how to incentivise sports people from the wider community to take part in a platform of this kind. It was only in 2015, when he was introduced to cryptocurrrencies by a friend, that the idea for Sports Podium was born.

Reputation driven

He said he and Marshall plan to go live with the platform initially with two sporting codes to test the concept before expanding to other sporting codes.

“In essence, individuals participating in sport, will provide us with sports information on a daily basis, from where we verify the info using various algorithms and in return our blockchain will issue these individuals with POD’s (tokens),” he says.

The startup’s blockchain generates a daily reward pool, which will then be shared among various participants, based on their reputation — which the platform defines as the ability to enter information accurately and diligently over time.

“Our main aim is to provide as many sports people and families as possible with PODs from where we will provide them with various ways to spend these tokens. Sports participants are driven by their competitive nature, both intrinsically and extrinsically.

“The SportsPodium platform will both enhance and capitalise on this, by adding an additional level of gamification to their experience. In so doing, the platform will also create both a captive advertising audience and a captive, ultra-relevant retail marketplace, while simultaneously adding real benefit to the lives of our users as well as their sporting codes and associations,” he said.

Initially sports people will feed data into the platform from their sports trackers. But how will the platform tackle those that try to game the system — by for example attaching it to their dog or even ceiling fan?

Rossouw however said the community itself will be able to police others — in a similar way as Steemit.com works — while the platform will use certified officials to carry out fitness tests.

The value of Sports Podium’s POD tokens will be based on the success of the project. “At the end of the day the market will decide the value of PODs, based on the various supply and demand factors as in any economy,” he added.

He said he and his colleagues learnt a lot of lessons during 2017, which they are now applying in the build-up and preparation for the startup’s token sale.

“One of the key lessons we learnt is that the token sale environment has changed a lot over the last few months as a result of the multitude of token sales,” he added.

In the end Rossouw admits that he and one can’t be sure whether the platform will really work until after the first two sporting codes have been piloted on the platform. “It will be very very interesting, but I’m excited.”

Featured image: SA Paralympic swimmer Natalie du Toit (Startup Grind Pretoria via Facebook)