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Springbok rugby player Bryan Habana seems to be as busy off the field, in the world of business, as he was on the field scoring tries.
Just yesterday the former rugby wing’s startup Paymenow, announced that it had landed a R4-million investment (see this story). And earlier this month his digital agency Retroactive launched a sports marketing app called MatchKit.
The app — developed by Retroactive which was founded in 2018 by Mike Sharman, Habana, Ben Karpinski (pictured above, from left to right) and Shaka Sisulu (not pictured) — helps athletes unlock additional revenue streams to further commercialise their careers.
The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to cost professional sports players millions of dollars as event cancellations are set to result in pay cuts, loss of appearance-fee income, and reductions in endorsement deals.
Former Springbok rugby player Bryan Habana’s digital agency Retroactive has launched a sports marketing app called MatchKit
But Habana and his team hope that their app — which aims to help sports people to act as a showcase for potential sponsors — helps sports people develop an alternative source of revenue.
He says the app allows sports people to upload a highlights video to showcase to their sponsors. In addition, it can help them to track and monetise their fan base, by for instance allowing them to sell merchandise to fans.
“My team and I have used lockdown to interrogate ways to help athletes of all sporting disciplines and tiers reignite revenue driving opportunities while waiting for the commencement of their respective leagues or competitions,” Habana explained in a statement last week.
Having played 119 tests over an international career spanning 14 years, Habana believes MatchKit will give players more control over their future, an advantage he lacked during his playing days.
“As an international and professional athlete you don’t often have a lot of time to worry about things off the field in between matches, training and a busy travelling schedule. I wasn’t the most tech savvy player around either so I hardly ventured into the digital space.
“Covid-19 has shown us that the future is digital and it is exciting to be able to play a part in creating a platform that gives athletes a competitive advantage off the field,” he said.
What it offers sports people
The app is essentially a website builder that enables athletes to showcase their sporting pedigree and sponsors — live within five minutes.
It automatically integrates into existing social media channels — including video-sharing social network TikTok — to show potential sponsors the scope and quality of an athlete’s influence.
In addition, it provides athletes with a plug and play e-commerce store — letting fans purchase everything from bespoke branded merchandise to personalised video and audio shout-outs from their favourite athlete
The app can handle everything from inventory management, printing, shipping and returns. In addition to handling the secure payments for the athlete’s e-commerce store, MatchKit also facilitates contributions to a foundation or charity of choice.
Habana told Ventureburn that over 25 sports people have so far signed up to use the app. They include sports icons such as Seabelo Senatla, Brandon Stone and Thembi Kgatlana.
The app includes a subscription model, which costs $19.99 per month. No transaction fee is charged on merchandise that sports people sell on the app.
Sharman told Ventureburn in an email that the business has been bootstrapped by the founders and added that the founders have invested about R1-million worth of sweat and cash to date.
He said MatchKit has 59 athletes signed up who are currently connected to 2.1 million fans via Instagram alone.
Habana, who currently juggles his time between his work for his foundation and his two businesses, says he doesn’t want to call himself an entrepreneur just yet.
For now he’s running with things, adding that he will give himself a “year or two” to see where things go.
When the going gets tough he can always call up former Springboks Jean de Villiers (who is involved with a number of businesses, including MyFanPark — see this story) and Bob Skinstad (who today serves as a venture capitalist for Knife Capital) for some business advice.
Correction: In the initial version we quoted Bryan Habana as saying that a transaction fee of six or seven percent would be charged on merchandise sales generated on the app. There is in fact no commission fee charged on merchandise sales. The article has been amended to reflect this.
Featured image (from left to right): Mike Sharman, Bryan Habana and Ben Karpinski. Not pictured is Shaka Sisulu (he wasn’t in town when this image was shot) (Supplied)