Interview with Athleague CEO Ravi Mishra

When I was in school at the greatest university in the land (UNC-Chapel Hill), I loved playing intramural basketball, soccer and flag football. I still miss the team aspect of intramural sports and the competition. However, the details could be kind of annoying. If it was lightly raining, I'd be constantly checking email before leaving for a game to see if the game was cancelled, Half the time, the captains never knew what was up and the league administrators didn't let us know anything. Another thing that was annoying was not knowing if everyone was going to show up.

Athleague helps collegiate intramural programs and amateur sports leagues manage and run their leagues more efficiently. I spoke with Athleague CEO and co-founder, Ravi Mishra, last month via phone and really enjoyed the conversation. Please see below for some questions I had about Athleague and Ravi's answers.

What Is Athleague?

Athleague provides an organizational solution and social network for amateur sports leagues. We make the lives of league organizers easier by giving them the tools they need to run their league, and we enhance the experience for players by providing stats, scores, standings and making their sports life more social.

Where did the idea for Athleague come from?

While we were in college, we couldn't help but notice how poorly our school's intramural program was run. The leap between that thought and the idea for Athleague was fairly straightforward, and we quickly realized that it was a need that wasn't being met for many different types of leagues.

How does Athleague plan to make money?

Three ways:

1) Payment transactions - people have to pay for leagues, so we built a convenient payments module into our site and add a small service fee to transactions.

2) Advertising - many companies want to reach our user base, so we provide targeted, intimate means for doing this.

3) Affiliate sales - our users need to buy equipment, so we can point that at places where they can do just that. Currently, this is tied in with 2).

What is the number one thing you're focused on with the business?

Adding customers, but expanding the number of marketing partners we have is probably a close second. We're working with a Fortune 500 sports apparel company, but it's always good to have a stable of companies advertising on your site.

How do you see social media tools and platforms affecting the way sports are organized and run in the next few years?

So, social media doesn't really offer much for large scale league organizers. Smaller-scale sports leagues (especially casual leagues) can leverage social media on more of an ad hoc basis, but the large leagues really need the infrastructure and organizing firepower of a dedicated system.

However, I think where social media can turn this space on its head is advertising. Most of our competitors are charging for their product, and/or tacking on huge transactions fees. We think that by engaging the players and providing them with a great user experience, we can keep our product free and deliver next-gen marketing solutions for companies trying to reach our user base. The possibilities for combining branding/marketing with features that players love are quite intriguing.

If you had $1 million to spend on Athleague right now, how would you spend it?

  • 10% toward more sales people (full times + interns)
  • 10% customer acquisition incentives
  • 25% for engineering hires to develop the product for other verticals
  • 5% increasing salaries -to get us off Ramen wages :)
  • 50% saved to increase the runway

For more on Athleague, check out this article in Mass High Tech.