Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TeamUp - new revolutionary social idea - Sports, Sponsors & Fans!

There is a new buzz in Finland's sport world. There is a new way to connect Sport Athletes and Sport teams (Including the Finnish Olympic Team and Happee Floorball) with both Sponsors and Fans - on social media - that is truly revolutionary, new, and it may change the game.

Floorballcentral checked in with Donna Kivirauma Co-founder and CEO at, TeamUp:

We formed our company August 31st 2012. My first idea was to make a kick-starter for sports, we called it SportsConnect, but the Finnish government quickly said no. They did not allow crowd funding in Finland. I thought about it more and decided that I wanted TeamUp to be more than a crowd-funding site. I wanted it to be a place where everyone could win and it wouldn't be a place that said -"hey help me reach my goal without an on-going relationship". I also saw the challenges facing sponsors in getting full measurable value from the sponsor deals.

I started looking at social media very critically and saw how so many launched without a business model. Because of that they have all done the same thing, sold their user's content and private information and put ads on their pages and feeds. The idea of doing that did not sit well with me even though it has worked for them. How could I not have a plan to sustain my company? Twitter lived off of investor money for many many years. Facebook advertising works, but at the expense of the user's privacy and I didn't like that you have to pay to reach your own following. Finally, I thought about sponsorship with more than 38 billion being spent on sponsorship and how difficult it is for the brands to get clear measurable results. A sponsorship platform was needed in social media. Sponsorship is the most effective way to emotionally connect with your customer. Brands and talents want to be in social media to reach their audience, but no one had developed anything that would specifically enhance the sponsorship relationship or improve social media marketing beyond pop-up ads and banner ads. If you think about internet marketing that is all there is. People are sick of it.

So TeamUp was born. A community that from the beginning had a purpose, strong core values, and a sustainable business model.

1) If Floorballcentral asked you to describe TeamUp in 95-110 characters (the most effective tweets on twitter) what would you write?

"a community of amazing people where their fans can feel like they are a part of what makes them great." or "the best place to discover, follow and support sports teams, athletes, musicians, and artists."

2) What is TeamUp's mission?

We want to build a community that is the best way to support and sponsor talented individuals and groups.
But we also have a TeamUp Philosophy: We believe in order to make a difference in people's lives and leave the world a better place that everyone must give back more than they receive. Everything we do facilitates this for the talents, fans, businesses, TeamUp partners and TeamUppers.

3) Tell us something about your company's long term vision?

Our long term vision is to be the replacement of Facebook for athletes, sports teams and the entertainment sector. We expect that everyone will be in TeamUp because everyone knows someone who is a talent that they would like to support. We also believe that TeamUp will be a bridge between nations. Sports, music, and art is a universal language and is what helps us to connect and understand each other.

4) If we say that crowd funding is interesting since it is built around the concept that fans or supporters - fund or contribute to a cause, idea or even a product. TeamUp looks a bit like this - with the main difference that you divide the fans into two parts sponsors and fans. Could you make a comment upon this comparison?

You are right! We didn't want a pure crowd-funding site. We wanted it to feel more like a social site where people could spend time getting to know the talent and really feel like they are a part of what makes them great, helping to build their social network, purchasing their fan items and cheering for them along the way. No one in TeamUp gets to stick their hand out for a donation. We wanted the daily interaction of knowing what it takes to strive for a goal and sometimes reach it and sometimes fall short. Personally, I have been highly inspired on a daily basis reading the updates of the talents. This follows our core value of giving back more than you take. TeamUp is designed so that giving is natural. We also wanted as part of the transparency to identify the sponsors and their role in enabling the success of the talent. Even though identified separately, in TeamUp the fan and the sponsor are on the same side of supporting the talent. All of this facilitates the natural bonding that will take place between a fan and a sponsor.

5) Is TeamUp a propriety sole standing ecosystem? What is good with this? Or do you plan to integrate other social systems with functionality inside of TeamUp. And if it is a propriety system - is that not also a big risk to take - since humans can only be members of so many social networks and apps at the same time?

We made a new platform because we didn't like how marketing was done in other platforms and we wanted to be able to "connect" or combine related profiles together to make it easier for people to follow their passion. Many sports teams have made their own apps, but we feel that by being in TeamUp it is like having your own app without users needing multiple apps to follow their passion. So in this regard we can reduce the number of apps a person needs. People are passionate about many things so our platform allows them to have the one place to follow their passion in sports, music, art and other entertainment. Right now Facebook is the defacto place where everyone is. We plan to be the defacto place where sports and entertainment lives.

We have built an API to TeamUp and would very much like to work with partners who match our core values. We have widgets that can be installed on any website that bring TeamUp feed or fan ranking. We also have made it possible for updates to be easily shared from TeamUp to Facebook or Twitter.

Media Dump Windows Phone of TeamUp! app

6) We know that social media migrates more towards phones. So when will TeamUp have a full range of phone apps available?

As you probably already know we have the Windows phone app. Thanks to Microsoft, Nokia and Appcampus. We definitely plan to have a full suite of apps.
Our benefits are a great way to deliver offers especially on mobile and can be used as daily offers if wanted.

7) As a true beginner on TeamUp I find that there is a learning curve involved to understand how it all works. Any thoughts from you on the learning curve for new social tools on the web?

We have known that we have made something very complex. We have thought this through from the very beginning and we wanted, as Steve Jobs would say,"to do things differently."In doing so, we know we have made something that takes time to learn fully. If you think about Facebook and how long they have been around, many people still do not understand how most things work and how the marketing works. We value transparency so we have endless explanations for everything in our support site.

8) How does TeamUp make money on its service? And is the service profitable today?

The service is 100% free for the sports teams, entertainers, athletes etc. and always will be. 100% free for the fans too. The businesses can either make a free profile (this enables a sports team to easily invite all of their sponsors to join) or they subscribe to one of the paid profiles. We have been told by marketing agencies that our prices are laughably cheap. That is part of keeping the balance of the ecosystem. We want every business to be able to come to TeamUp and support talents, so we are after the volume business. Once in TeamUp to gain visibility and earn brand points a company must sponsor talents. This is what creates the win-win for the community.
For the U.S market the prices to buy a business profile are $259 a month, $659 a month or $999 a month with discounts for annual payments. There is also the free business profile. Prices are affordable for every company. The added benefit is that the costs are fixed so that a company can make unlimited sponsor deals with talents, make unlimited benefits, collect unlimited following and reach 100% of them. Transparency with no surprises!! We are not profitable yet, but we are earning money every month. We had income a full year before we launched. We have had many companies in Finland buy the 5,500 Euro a year profile from us before the launch because they wanted to be first.

9) Tell us a little about the reception of TeamUp in Finland?

Finland has been loving TeamUp. Every business and talent we have talked to has said things like, "This is just what has been needed", "You are geniuses", etc. Finland in general though is slow to use new social media. Twitter is just now taking hold in Finland. We knew that when we opened up first here. It is a culture that is very reserved and does not value bragging or making yourself stand out. Because of the easy access in Finland to the talents we have been working with some of the top sports teams, The Finnish Olympic team, and a few of the most famous musicians just to name a few.
Once the U.S starts to join TeamUp we expect all of Finland will join. We now have more than 370 talents, 65 sponsors, and almost 5000 fans. Not a lot but we are expecting the numbers to grow considerably this fall.

10) Now as you are ready to take on the USA - can the different sporting landscape with most sports tied to schools instead of to own clubs be a challenge for TeamUp?

I think that it is a positive not a challenge. Facebook got started at Harvard and I am eager to see which school will be the first to take up TeamUp. I am already in talks with the University of Houston, my alma mater, and have talked to L.S.U. where I ran track back in the 70's on the first modern day L.S.U. track team...yes I am dating myself now. :-) We have some unique features in TeamUp that makes the community very attractive for schools beyond the value points stated above(remove since the value point question was taken out). Imagine a group profile for say UH. The athletics department can link their profile, the music department, the art department, their alumni association and on and on. It is a great way to communicate with their students, faculty, alumni and other stakeholders and showcase all that goes on in the University where all community members contribute. Our unique feature of how the profiles are connected (with patent pending) makes social media very easy. No hash tags needed, group member updates go automatically to the group profile. Alumni can connect more emotionally to individual talent at a University that will lead to more giving. It is a fact that if you can gain a personal connection to someone then you are more likely to support. Students can see the accomplishments across the campus and follow what goes on at their University thus building a stronger tie to the school. Brand-building is made much easier in TeamUp because of the collaborative nature of the profiles.

11) Can anyone start with TeamUp - from the biggest NFL team - to the smallest little local Floorball Club? Any restrictions whatsoever?

No restrictions and we want everyone here. We do proof all talent and business profiles before they are made public, but everyone is welcome and talent is in the eye of the beholder. :-) We let the community decide who they want to follow and support. Also, if you think about it most companies in the U.S are small businesses, more than 18 million of them, and it is them who support the local youth and high school teams. Also, local musicians and artists are supported by them too. We see TeamUp as a safe place to put your young son or daughter's floorball team and provide value for those wonderful local businesses who support the team, more than a logo on the back of the shirt. If you ask these businesses about the support, they will say it is a donation not a real marketing opportunity. A young team can promote their generous sponsors within their network and beyond. Also, imagine the cheers and positive support from the team fans for the youngsters. Parents can share pictures and videos in their cheers for the entire team to enjoy. Also, family members far away can follow their grandchild, niece or nephew more easily.

For the biggest teams like the NFL, NBA, NSL, MLB, NHL, etc. (sorry for leaving some out) the stakes are even greater. In down times sponsorship is cut and social media is cut. We wanted to raise both to the main stream marketing instead of where it sits relegated to its own area that gets cut more and more because the value is not fully realized nor is either fully monetized. This helps to protect a sports teams sponsorship revenue and we believe will increase the revenue.
BTW, the $999 profile that is not released yet will have a special shop. This will allow a business to run a web shop that does not show up in their own profile, but shows up in the talents they have sponsor deals with. For example, Nike can run a shop, handle the logistics, but the shop would show up in the sport team's shop as " A shop that supports us." Buying is direct from Nike, but your team gets credit with Nike for the purchase.

12) How big is this market you aim for - any ideas?

The world is our market. TeamUp is for everyone.

And hey from us at Floorballcentral - it is a delight to see that our old fav Team Happee Floorball (best in the world on Floorball marketing) has gone full in with TeamUp! 

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Research suggest that eye-injuries are more common in Floorball as compared to Tennis, but less common as compared to Squash (similar to Racquetball).
To minimize this risk of injury Floorballcentral recommend: Use certified protective eye-wear (mandated in many European areas for the youth). Do not lay down on the court. Follow the rules strict on stick height.

Also if you get addicted to this sport - do not blame us!