You know, I'm completely biased but I think athletes make the best entrepreneurs
My name is Jason Robinson. I'm the co-founder and CEO of Playbook Five and the director of Training at StatusPro.
Tell us about your startup Playbook Five. How did it start?
so when in 2015 when I learned about virtual reality, a light bulb went off in my head and I remember saying if this technology is what Palmer Luckey says it is this is going to change sports forever. So that was when I made the decision to build this product and build this company. And I'm Grant grateful for what we've been able to do and what we specifically do for players has helped them get more confidence by giving them access to more reps.
What kind of results you’ve seen from your customers?
Sure, so confidence is the is the biggest one right and we the research study that I referenced is the one we did with love pro sports Tech Institute, where we worked with the American football team at Loughborough University and what we found is that players that use playbook five registered twice as much confidence going into a practice session than players that did it and move the science behind that and what's happening is it's you know, you can go look it up neuroplasticity, it's a very, you know, it's a deep term I won't bore you with right now, but what it talks about as you just your brain's ability to recall moments, right? Everything in life is an experience. So what we do is we give you that experience before you've actually experienced it. So when you do go out into the field, your mind and your brain can call on an image and call on a scenario they've seen to help you better navigate the situation.
How did you get interested in using technology to enhance football performance?
I mentioned my dad was a high school football coach. And that meant that I spent a lot of time hanging around the offices and that also meant that I had spent a lot of time going through all this mail. So I will go through all the vendor notebooks and all the sports equipment stuff and I was just always fascinated by the tools. Unfortunately at the time, my dad was in a situation where he couldn't afford them all. So when I got to college and I got to Boise State and played division one football there that was the first time where I really saw these tools up close and personal and then also saw the benefits of those tools. And I just said, you know, I remember telling myself like, at some point in my career, I want to figure out a way to make tools like that more accessible for all coaches and I think that's that's really what got me interested in in that. That hacking, if you will, of developing a player
What it's like to be an entrepreneur? Any challenges or favorite moments?
It's very emotionally up and down. You know, you can go from signing a great client to being overdrawn in a matter of 24 hours. And I think that it definitely takes a certain amount of mental fortitude to be to be a successful entrepreneur. So it's definitely not for the faint of heart. But it's also has its joy. I think there's there's nothing better than no experience greater honestly than being able to take a thought and an idea and something that you write down on a piece of paper at a conference, and then all of a sudden turn that into a tool and a product that has been touched by 10s of 1000s of people around the world.
How do you think your experience as an athlete helped your entrepreneurial career?
You know, I'm completely biased, but I think athletes make the best entrepreneurs. And, but but there's some some some rhyme to that as well. You know, when you think about a sport, right, it's there's a score. So you find out whether you did good or bad really quickly. Business is very similar, right? There's metrics that you're chasing, whether it be quarterly or annually. And I think that because athletes are conditioned to chase that score and to chase those metrics that are just synonymous with competition. It sets them up well mentally to be able to execute in an entrepreneurial space. But then that comes with downsides too. Because in difference in sports you you can't always squeeze out the results immediately after a couple hours of competition. And entrepreneurship. A lot of the times the results may take quarters may take years sometimes can take several years. For you to actually get that feedback that can signal a victory. So there are definitely benefits from from being an athlete and becoming an entrepreneur and I think that's why a lot of entrepreneurs that are athletes end up being successful, but there are also some challenges there which is shifting the mindset and I would say becoming a little bit more patient with the process and understanding that the results are not as immediate as they might be when you are playing a sport
How do you think some franchises and leagues are going to play out in the next 10 to 20 years?
I think that the organizations and institutions that decide to include technology will definitely create more parity, at what extent they'll compete. I mean, you know, the NFL is a behemoth right. So I don't think anyone's ever one saying they're going to replace the NFL. I don't think anyone's one saying they're going to replace the NBA. But what the what the opportunity I tech creates is for some of these others, maybe smaller organizations to become more attractive and to create more parity. And now you see more of a multi level approach where you know, you think about American football, it's a monopoly. You know, think about basketball, it's a monopoly. Well, what if technology can help some of these other leagues stand up and be competitive to where now their existence can kind of force some more of the adoption upstream by the big players, if you will, and I think but I mean, but everything the future belongs to technology. So any institution whether it be sport, medical, real estate, if you're not adopting technology, that you're not really planning to be a part of the future.
What advice would you give to Berkeley student entrepreneurs?
I would say to really spend a lot of time analyzing the viability of the problem and solution that they are potentially going to be offering to customers. You know, and I think the way to do that is to really talk to everyone in the ecosystem. Don't just think about the customer. Think about the personal impacts the customer think about the personal impacts who impacts the customer, and really try to understand the entire ecosystem. Because when you when you understand that, you know you'll what you'll find out is once you build the product, then they're selling it, right and all of that user research and all of that data can help you better position the product in front of customers and really help you get to scale which ultimately matters. I mean it in today's day and age tools are pretty much ubiquitous. There's low code, there's no code. Anyone can create anything. You have to be able to scale it and drive consistent customer adoption, if you're going to be successful and it's very hard to do that. If you don't know at least a baseline amount of information about the minds of everyone who was considering using your product.
How did you go about validating the market in the early stage of Playbook Five?
Yeah. So we went out in the field very early, and we did something very different to so I played college football. My dad was a coach, I would say as it relates to American football, I'm probably an elitist. So when we when I came up with this idea, of course, I thought it would work and I thought it worked for me, but I knew that we did not have a chance if it could not work for a novice customer and what that meant was someone who did not have a coach at home someone who did not already understand the appreciation of film study. So to prove that we took our product to England, where American football is not even the primary sport, they can care less about American football. And our whole idea was if we can take a kid who doesn't even watch football at all and get them to a certain level, then we know we have something right because now we can take people who don't play the sport and enroll them. into it. So that was something early on that myself and my co founder, co founder, Paul, that trend did that help us kind of pave our pathway forward. And then, you know, even once we got in market there were still pivots. Right? So the first iteration and 1.0 playbook five was a b2b product essentially so we'd go to a high school or college like you're a cow, and we say, Hey, give us your playbook and we put all of your content on our platform, sign a licensing agreement and give your players you know, the seats access to that that content that was on our platform. Well, what we found with that was the decision maker for the high school mark. It was an athletic director and a principal. Both personas who didn't really embrace technology, he had them still struggling to get people off of Xerox and on to PDFs, right. So we would go to these meetings and we'd meet with AEDs and they'd get it fundamentally or they but when it came to making the decision, it wasn't getting through it. But on the other end of that, the players were excited. The players loved it. So we said okay, well, we need to get this ad and this coach out of the way and get right to the player and that is what caused us to pivot to our b2c model that we currently have where instead of going and customizing the product for schools, we create the content we become the school and we sell that content to individual players, so we don't have to worry about dealing with the friction that was available with trying to sell it through their schools. And sure schools can still be a customer of ours, but it's a different product. Now we're not customizing content for them. We're more so giving them a library of pre existing content, just like a textbook or a textbook. Company, we're but for sports
What do you think is the most successful element for successful entrepreneurs?
communication like actually, I would say that's probably the most important thing is, is being able to articulate your vision. You have to become a storyteller. Like, you know, I mentioned the idea being in the back of your head and going into a piece of paper, wherever it's in your idea when it's in your head, it's a picture. When it's on the paper, it's four or five words, you understand those words, you know that you can read the handwriting, but the next person can't. And everyone is always coming to every conversation, every human experience with their own human experience. And if you're going to want to enroll people into what you're building, you have to be able to articulate what you're building to a vast amount of personas and experiences. So and that's and that's ever changing, right? There's a pitch for an investor, but there's a pitch for a customer there's a pitch for a parent, and there's a pitch for late stage investor and there's a pitch for an early stage investor. You know, it's just as you have to learn how to communicate the vision across the entire spectrum of personas.