Sports Thread in Colorado Inno
As COVID-19 hits startups hard, Denver’s Sports Thread finds its groove
When the university committed an NCAA infraction and Sean Leary had his baseball scholarship stripped at Pepperdine, he found himself back at square one in terms of recruiting.
Leary landed at Orange Coast College, where he hoped to get noticed by another Division 1 school.
“I had to figure out how to get recruited all over again,” he said. “I felt like I was seeing a ton of athletes struggling with the recruiting process and there were no options other than paying someone to help you.”
Unless you had connections or were a can’t miss prospect, Leary said the most common route for recruiting was to pay a firm or person to market your skills to coaches.
After landing at Oral Roberts to play out his baseball career, Leary realized there was a better and cheaper option for recruiting.
So, instead of playing summer baseball, the Colorado native began developing a business plan and fundraising for his startup, Sports Thread.
Then, in 2018, Sports Thread launched to the public, creating a social media network that connects student athletes with team members, coaches, parents and fans.
Sports Thread operates like LinkedIn for athletes, allowing them to create public profiles, post statistics and highlights and connect with other users. They can also upload their team’s schedule, their unofficial transcript and coach’s contact information.
For coaches, they can scroll through Sports Thread’s feed, connect with athletes and create a shortlist for the players they’re interested in recruiting.
Photo Credit: Sports Thread.
Sports Thread has athletes from every NCAA sport using its platform, though they see the highest volume of users in football, baseball, basketball, volleyball and soccer. The app is free to use for players and coaches, as Sports Thread's revenue model is based on selling ads.
As the coronavirus pandemic has postponed or cancelled a variety of sports seasons, tournaments and showcases, Sports Thread has seen its user count jump. The app recently debuted inside the top 50 on Apple’s app store in the sports category and Leary is thankful to be able to continue operating during COVID-19.
“We’re very lucky that we’re one of the few companies that is going to come out stronger on the end of this,” he said.
He said users have begun frequenting the app more than ever during quarantine, posting updates and highlights and connecting with coaches virtually. While many seasons have been put on hold, Sports Thread has become a resource for athletes and coaches alike.
“Not being seen in-person poses a new and unique challenge for everybody,” Leary said.
Like many startups, Sports Thread was built from the personal experiences of its founder. Leary said his primary goal is to help kids connect with the right schools for them, avoiding the mistakes he made during his early college experience.
The eight-person full-time Denver company has more than 300,000 people signed-up on the app and is hoping to ride the recent momentum to sustained success.
“The volume of players who are having success with Sports Thread now is going to show the entire market how effective our program can be, especially doing something that’s free,” he said.