Former MLB All-Star Shawn Green Co-Founds JockTalk, Social Platform For Fans and Athletes

June 21, 2012

11:00 am

If you thought the wall between sports fans and their favorite athletes was low already, just wait for JockTalk.

Co-founded by Shawn Green, former two-time MLB All-Star and gold glove winner, and Brenden Kensel, co-founder of Salesmation (which was promptly sold to eSynergies), JockTalk is hoping to become the go-to venue for athletes to connect with fans.  With an impressive athlete launch roster – including Heath Bell, Adrian Beltre, Aaron Boone, Kevin Love, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Wes Welker, Jonathan Vilma, Warren Moon, Jeremy Roenick, Ryan Kesler, and Logan Couture – the team is already in position to make a big splash upon the public launch of their iPhone app, currently slated for mid-July.

JockTalk Co-Founder Shawn Green

JockTalk Co-Founder Shawn Green

In the opinion of Green and Kensel, the communication on existing platforms, namely Twitter and Facebook, are too one-way.  One such example of how JockTalk will be improving upon this is through a Q&A series, which has proven to do very well in beta, according to Green.

Pay to Play

It’s clear why JockTalk is a win for fans, but what’s the incentive for athletes?  In a word – money.  Athletes share in JockTalk’s overall revenue pool, depending upon activity level and following, which is driven by advertising and sponsorship, content syndication and e-commerce.

A central feature of the JockTalk revenue model is the ease for athletes to donate some or all of their earnings directly to charities.  For someone like Green, who donated $1.5 million of his salary to the Dodgers’ Dream Foundation during his six years in LA, working with non-profits is a big selling point of their platform:

“We feel that most athletes will select a non-profit partner on JockTalk. JockTalk enables athletes to promote and raise money for causes they care about. We are launching with about a dozen national charities, and as the company grows, we will allow athletes to submit their own charities/causes to be considered. This is also a great way for the charities the athletes care about to automatically receive monetary support from the athletes and their fans.”

JockTalk Co-Founder Brendon Kensel

JockTalk Co-Founder Brendon Kensel

Scouting the Competition

JockTalk isn’t the first player after the athlete’s online identity platform (see: LockerDome).  Aside from the impressive list of launch athletes mentioned above, there is plenty that separates JockTalk from other sports-focused social platforms according to Kensel, “Most of our competitors are aggregating third-part content (social feeds, news, etc). JockTalk is differentiated from competitors by its unique content, multi-pronged revenue model, and traffic acquisition leveraging syndication.”

In having been partners at Kensel & Co, an advisory firm specializing in sports marketing and digital media, Kensel and Green already have a good lay of the land.  For Kensel, the decision to put his advisory role on hold and pursue JockTalk was a no-brainer. “I recognized that sports fans are frustrated with the lack of engagement tools available to them to engage with their favorite athletes,” and added that athletes too are seeking a more customized platform to reach fans, a sentiment quickly corroborated by Green.

Of Business and Baseball

Standing 60 feet from someone throwing a hard object 95 mph in your general proximity in the company of 50,000+ screaming fans is a feeling I will never know.  Curiously, I asked Green of the biggest similarities between professional baseball and the startup life.  He offered the following:

In my case, getting up to the plate. In both you will have hot streaks and cool streaks, but the key is to be disciplined and keep pursuing your goal. I am enjoying the challenge of translating athletic discipline to business discipline.

JockTalk is based out of Newport Beach, CA and received approximately $650,000 to-date from Green and Kensel and a few tech investors and professional athletes. The group is in the midst of closing out a $1.5 million convertible note round.

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When Zach Davis isn't getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail's Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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