Just Play Sports Solutions has continued to nab big-name clients, including most recently two Women’s National Basketball Association teams: the Dallas Wings and Connecticut Sun.
“It gives us a lot of validation. The WNBA is where a lot of things, from what we know, get tested before they jump into the NBA,” said Austin Barone, co-founder and head of sales and business development for Just Play. “They’re definitely an influencer for us. … It’s a new market that gets us professional-level experience but then also has significant ties to the college game as well, which is really where we’re focused.”
The startup, which is in the process of moving its operations from Lawrence to Kansas City, has developed a digital platform that streamlines the coaching process and gives digital-centric players a better way to learn. The mobile app helps coaches automate statistics and scouting reports, giving players insight into opposing teams. Coaches also can upload videos and notes to the platform, build an interactive playbook and create play diagrams. They also can create quizzes via the platform and garner analytics on what players are answering correctly and which materials they’re viewing.
“We’re helping coaches more effectively teach a generation of digital learners, and we’re doing it in a way that also saves them a lot of time in that preparation,” Barone said.
Coaches have said the platform reduced their workflow from days to minutes, resulting in athletes studying more and helping athletes make fewer mental mistakes.
For Western Illinois University’s women’s basketball team, it helped them move past a .500 season last year to winning their conference this year and moving on to the NCAA tournament.
“It’s been a great, great tool, and I definitely would say it contributed to our success,” Assistant Head Coach Seth Minter said in a release. “It’s reassuring because I don’t really have the doubts anymore of knowing if they’re prepared or not. I know they are because I’ve seen the results. To me, it’s just a no-brainer to use this.”
Just Play now has about 200 clients, and some of its notable ones include the University of Kansas and UCLA men’s basketball teams, and Columbia University’s football team. The startup also became the official playbook and scouting report platform for the NAIA, which led to speaking opportunities during a recent conference.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity for us,” he said. “We had multiple deals that were closed at the event itself.”
For now, Just Play is targeting basketball and football teams, but Barone sees opportunity to expand to other sports in the future. The vision is to elevate the game by creating more knowledgeable players who make fewer mistakes, he said. It “truly creates a more intelligent athlete,” which ultimately raises the level of competition and helps teams win more games.
This article originally appeared in the Kansas City Business Journal.