By Matt Petrero
Unless you live under a rock, you know that social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) is all the rage these days. It can be a very powerful tool for the good. It provides the means to get information in real time, network ideas and contacts, and get your product out to the world en mass; kinda like we do here at Purpose2Play.
The downside to social media are the trolls who are looking to pounce on somebody who doesn’t share their views on any number of issues, spew hate, get as vulgar as they can, and spread rumors in an effort to hurt or discredit people, whether it’s true or not.
This behavior seems to be prevalent in pretty much any arena, but in the world of sports, it’s not only a breeding ground for disgruntled fans to light up players, management, or other fans, but it is also a place that athletes cannot escape a barrage of hateful commentary for mistakes they have made either on or off the field of play.
Furthermore, these sites become a relatively convoluted vehicle to try and do good things in the community. Let’s face it, somebody is trying make the public aware of a fund raiser for a good cause, but it ends up on the timeline somewhere between a spam post for the latest fat-burning scam and a ridiculous survey asking for your favorite Kardashian sister (and by the way, haven’t their 15 minutes expired yet?).
The potential pitfalls of the social media world for athletes was not lost on one man in particular. Brian Wilhite is the founder and owner of a site called Sqor.com (Oh, and there’s an app for that).
Wilhite recognized what was missing on the social media landscape was a place for athletes to go where they can escape the craziness of the garden-variety social media sites all while working on building up their brand and using the platform to help advance and raise money for worthy causes.
For good measure, Wilhite brought in future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. Favre sits on the board of directors and is one incredible resource for marketing and using his vast network to get the word out about this ambitious undertaking. We had the great pleasure of conducting an interview with Wilhite and Favre to get more insight into Sqor.com.
Sqor.com and it’s Mission
What does Sqor.com do that gets its wheels moving and why was Wilhite inspired to create the new age platform?
“What we’re really striving to do is give the athlete complete and total control of their digital persona; give them control of their message, give them a platform that creates opportunities for them, and puts them in complete charge in establishing this profile of record for the athlete,” Wilhite said. “The inspiration behind my starting the company came from my recognizing that in the global sports ecosystem, there was something that was missing. For me, what gets me up out of my chair screaming and yelling for what just happened is that individual athlete performance. Athletes are amazing, they do amazing things both on and off the field. The original sports ecosystem was focused on the team and the league and the game; there was nothing focused on the athlete, helping the athlete solve problems, helping the athlete be more efficient, be better off the field, and then ultimately create these economic opportunities for the athlete. We’re doing that by building a great product, with a great software platform. Then what you get is, from a fan’s perspective, is you get an amazing, rich, and fulfilling experience as it relates to the athletes, the sports they play, and the teams that they play for. We sort of turned the telescope around and looked at it from different directions. We’re creating value across the ecosystem for the fans, athletes, and for those who want to have a link to a plan as well. Then the last thing we’ve done recently is we’ve launched an initiative about crowd-funding in our platform. So we’ve got the ability to process and take donations, allow athletes to focus on charities or causes that they care about. Then we’ve also built the viral marketing components into the platform as well.”
There are various benefits for an athlete to create a Sqor account. However, it raises the question if the well-known athletes are there strictly as mentors for lesser known athletes or if they, themselves, are there for the benefit of Sqor’s branding assistance as well as mentoring.
“We take an active roll,” Wilhite said. “We are a software platform but we do provide some services to help athletes get better at their off-the-field efforts. We work closely with their agents and handlers; in some cases, directly with the athlete if they want that kind of relationship with us. We have a lot of best practices. We know what works, we know what doesn’t work. And we do as good a job as we possibly can at coaching that athlete and the people around that athlete as to what works off the field and and how they can become better at building their own brand, and really take control of the message that they really want to get out there.”
If Sqor gets more exposure by the mainstream media and social media outlets, this could lead the way in how athletes are covered; focusing on the good in the sports world rather than always looking for the negative dirt to exploit.
“It puts the power of the voice back in the athlete’s hand and they can say whatever they want, whenever they want and really reach that audience to get the message out,” Wilhite said. “I think, just like society, you have people that step out of bounds and do things that are crazy. Athletes are no different. They make mistakes too and unfortunately the media focuses on that one percent or that outlier experience. That’s what gets all the attention in traditional outlets. We’re democratizing the message and highlighting the ninety-nine percent and the good things they do.”
Who is on Sqor?
Initially, upon downloading the app, one will notice that a good portion of the athletes of the Sqor community are from the worlds of soccer and MMA. So is this just a coincidence or is this the result of being an ideal platform for increasing their exposure and improving brand recognition?
In fact, the first person to follow me was Miesha Tate, a former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight champion and the #11 “pound-for-pound” female MMA fighter according to MMARising.com.
“It’s true. We have almost 300 professional MMA fighters on the platform and they’re very active.,” Wilhite said. “A large portion of the Women’s US Soccer team are also now on the platform and they’re very active. There’s a lot going on in women’s soccer. The World Cup is next year, so you’ve got some of the top women soccer players in the United States that are very active in the sport at the moment. There is a lot of initial outside media that’s taking place so they’re getting a lot of buzz and getting a lot of traction. We have a lot of other athletes in the main sports as well: professional baseball, professional football, and professional basketball. We are also strong in other outlying sports like international sailing and rugby.”Sqor Founder and CEO, Brian Wilhite displays his latest creation. Photo courtesy of IJ photo/Frankie Frost
Brett and Deanna Favre’s, Favre 4 Hope Foundation was the first fund raiser to launch on the platform. The next logical question was to ask if Sqor has a way of knowing what kind of progress is being made toward fundraising goals and the effectiveness of the exposure and circulation on the Sqor platform.
“We just launched the crowd-funding initiative this weekend (5 days prior to this interview), sort of a soft launch,” Wilhite said. “We currently have five athletes who are active on the platform who are promoting their particular charity or cause. Brett and his wife, Deanna has Favre 4 hope. We have established a goal for a hundred-thousand dollars.”
To date, Favre4Hope, which benefits breast cancer survivors and disabled children in various states has raised more than $10,000.
“On the platform, we establish the goal and then we also show a meter which shows the progress towards the goal,” Wilhite said. “While we don’t have a lot of data and it’s just getting started, I can tell you feedback that we’ve received from the athletes and from charities and causes, it’s really quite impressive to me. It makes sense for us as a company to offer this because athletes do so many great things, but what I had not anticipated is the enthusiasm with the launch of the product. So I think it’s going to be very successful. It doesn’t take a lot out of you. It’s something you can do very easily. You can speak to your audience about it very quickly and activate them. So I think it’s going to be something that is going to have a big impact with the charitable giving community.”
So what’s around the bend for Sqor?
“We’ve got large product plans to expand this,” Wilhite said. “We are getting a lot of interest from high school athletic departments. I can’t think of a high school athletic department that isn’t out there trying to raise money. So when you connect the sports-specific nature of our product platform and combine that with the ability to raise funds for events or for tournaments or anything else, it makes it interesting and easy.”
Too many school districts are fortunate enough to not have to make cuts each fiscal year, so being able to fund things like sports tournaments or traveling long distances to face high profile programs in a particular sport is extremely improbable. Sqor should be the perfect vehicle to help these programs out.
Favre and the Sqor Connection
For those who don’t know, Favre played in the NFL for 20 years. He played for the Atlanta Falcons (1991), Green Bay Packers (1992-2007), New York Jets (2008), and Minnesota Vikings (2009-2010). He played in two Super Bowls (winning one), won three league MVP awards, and retired with every significant league passing record. So it’s a no-brainer to say that he is a future hall-of-famer.
What is Favre’s involvement like with Sqor as a member of the board? Does he have day-to-day tasks or is he there more for name recognition and to offer his networks to help Sqor branch out.
“I would say no as far as the day-to-day,” Favre said. “We do a lot of these interviews in regards to a lot of different things. I try to bring as much to the table as I can. Unlike Brian, I’m not tech-savvy. I’m not out there in San Francisco (Sqor’s corporate location) with Brian so I’m not there on the day-to-day activities. I know a lot of people. I think there are some situations where I can get Brian on the phone with either friends, guys I played with, business associates, or whatever. It can be beneficial to them as well. So I think more than anything, that’s what I can bring to the table.”
Between Wilhite’s tech knowledge and drive, and Favre’s inspiration, networking, and name recognition, we can’t imagine that Sqor won’t be a colossal success, and perhaps have a proverbial Hall of Fame career in the tech world.