SCHENECTADY — A Schenectady startup company this month will launch a social media platform for people who play, follow or make a living from sports.
“It’s like LinkedIn for athletes,” said TropheCase founder and CEO Hunter Moffatt. “It’s a digital scrapbook.”
Moffatt is a Colonie native and now Rotterdam resident who played football and basketball in high school but won a scholarship to the University at Albany for his skills on the pitching mound.
“Baseball was my favorite, honestly.”
Now 30, he plays golf and softball and does Crossfit.
Moffat is also an avid user of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat.
He said TropheCase was more of an athlete’s desire to harness social media than a social media fan’s desire to feature athletics more prominently. That’s not just a semantic difference: The platform is created for athletes by athletes, Moffat said. “That’s really how we came up with the vision.”
The target audience is athletes age 6 and up, of whom there are 70 million in the United States and 2 billion nationwide.
Many will be like Moffatt, starting off with one or more organized sports in childhood and high school. Fewer will go on to college sports. And only a tiny number will go on to professional sports.
But every step of the way, they can all use TropheCase to post data, photos and videos about themselves; share posts internally and externally; and track performance or statistics over years.
“This is something that they can grow with,” Moffatt said.
There’s no shortage of social media platforms and apps for the athletic community, but most are more closely focused on a particular segment, Moffatt said.
“We’re actually taking the opposite approach from everybody that’s in the market, in that we’re taking the long approach, with all ages, sports and levels,” he said.
“The companies that are out there do specific things very well,” Moffatt added, and he sees them not as competitors but as ways to add value to TropheCase through users’ links and sharing.
As athletes feed their profiles, coaches, recruiters and advertisers can watch and reach athletes through the platform.
TropheCase follows the freemium model of social media — free for athletes and paid premium membership for professionals and advertisers. Revenue will be derived from membership fees and advertising.
There are two main categories: Organized scholastic sports and informal athletic training and activities, everything from yoga to cricket to running. The platform contains 85 sports, including all the Olympic events.
The service may evolve after launch, but TropheCase will be monitored and have filters to make it appropriate for all ages, Moffatt said.
“We see this as a positive form of social media for athletes,” he said.
Leading the young company with Moffatt are COO Ken Perry and CTO Michael McCutcheon. Perry focuses on operations and McCutcheon on technology, but at this early stage, job titles are fluid, Moffat said. “At the end of the day we all wear multiple hats.”
There are four other employees and four external advisers.
TropheCase has been in development for two years, has had a website for eight months, and has been an affiliate of the New York BizLab since April, but everybody still works from home at this point. The goal is to eventually be a tenant of the lower State Street business incubator, but as an affiliate it gains the same benefits as Bizlab tenants, except an office with a door.
It is the first company in the city to receive Innovation Hot Spot designation, which is a state-sponsored program that helps the youngest startups begin operation and potentially grow to the point of joining StartUp New York, which confers tax savings and other benefits.
More than a thousand people have expressed interest through the website, Moffatt said. They’ll get a chance to see TropheCase in action in November on a launch date to be determined.