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Imagine a social networking app for young athletes that combines the “wow, did you see that?” virality of TikTok with the connecting power of LinkedIn. That’s the premise of Press Sports, a thriving and fast-growing community of nearly 300,000 registered users—including student athletes, coaches, parents, athletic recruiters, and fans—in more than 70 countries.
In this episode of the Mobile Presence podcast, our host Peggy Anne Salz interviews Drew Williams, Co-founder and CMO of Press Sports, on what it takes to compete with social media giants in a targeted market, and how to retain users in such a competitive field.
Williams studied marketing at the University of Mississippi, where he pitched for the school’s baseball team. He and his childhood friend (and former high-school baseball teammate) Conrad Cornell came up with the idea to create a unique platform where athletes could showcase their accomplishments without turning their personal social media accounts into sports highlight reels. The results so far: Press Sports has generated $2.8 million in seed funding; co-founders Williams and Cornell were both named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2021.
On the Press Sports app, which unveiled both its latest iteration and a rebrand earlier this year, athletes can create a detailed profile and post photos and videos spotlighting their individual athletic achievements. Everyone, including athletes, fans, coaches, and recruiters, can view top trending highlights, search for athletes based on specific criteria, and connect with others via direct messages.
For Drew Williams, community is everything—not only in creating a platform centered around athletes, but in learning from them to enhance the product’s value. “Our biggest goal is to create this really cool community of athletes, getting feedback from them, [finding out] what they enjoy, what they don’t.”
The app’s benefit for its primary user group, athletes, is abundantly clear. But what about the other user segments? Williams and co-founder Cornell have been laser-focused on delivering individualized value for every segment of the athletic ecosystem.
For example, because much of the app’s content revolves around youth sports, it was critical for Press Sports to appeal to parents. According to Williams, “parents right now are the biggest fans because they’re supporting their children on the app. They’ll get on, post [for] their children that are maybe 5, 6, 7 years old. Eventually their child grows up and takes over that profile.” Meanwhile, coaches and recruiters looking for emerging talent can run customized searches by sport, region, playing position, and more. “We’ll feed them prospects and content towards what they’re looking for,” says Williams.
Press Sports has been partnering with CleverTap for the past year, building campaigns and journeys to motivate users to complete the onboarding process. In that time, the app has seen a significant increase in active users. CleverTap campaigns have also helped to drive more than 4,000 users to edit their profiles as part of the onboarding process.
With CleverTap, Press Sports App “created these journeys that would send certain notifications based on what a user did and didn’t do in their signup and their first experience,” says Williams. “We would guide them—through notifications, pop-ups, emails—to make that first post. Continuing to optimize towards those activation metrics is crucial.”
With any type of app, he continues, “you want to figure out, what is that action you need to push the user to take [so they] get value from the app? CleverTap’s been a big help there.”
To hear more from Drew Williams about how a young challenger can take on the veteran players in social media and win at their game, tune into the entire interview.