AN AUSSIE startup that connects athletes with fans is making a push into India.
South Australian company Pickstar gives sports fans and organisations the chance to hire out their favourite athletes for a range of public events including corporate seminars, sports clinics and school fundraisers.
Pickstar has initiated more than 500 connections around Australia since its launch in 2014.
It is now looking to make some of cricket’s big names more accessible in the Indian subcontinent.
Pickstar founder and CEO James Begley is a former Australian-Rules football player who wanted the chance to earn additional income and engage more with the community.
He said the program began as an online marketplace that would revolutionise the booking experience by creating a more approachable middleman.
“Sport cuts across just about any demographic and any age – we are tapping into the inner fan and giving them access to stars who are perceived as inaccessible,” he said.
“Our end game is to not just be an Australian-only website but to expand globally and to establish ourselves across different countries.”
Begley said because Pickstar was a new innovation in the space, there was still much work to be done to raise its profile.
It has acquired more than 600 athletes over the past three years and has delivered connections with budgets that ranged from as little as AU$100 through to $25,000+.
(From right to left) Begley hosting Mumbrella’s Sports Marketing Summit ‘Ask an Athlete’ panel, with Mark Matthews (big wave surfer), Carol Cooke (paralympian gold medallist) and Sharni Layton (Australian Diamonds).
Athletes include some of sport’s big stars, both past and present, including rugby international Nick Cummins, Olympic swimming champion Kyle Chalmers and former Australian cricketer Ed Cowan.
It also provides clients with the option for more affordable athletes, giving them more paid opportunities.
He said the company was primarily also targeting large brands in the cricketing nations of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, South Africa and New Zealand.
“There is an obvious love of cricket in the Indian subcontinent as well as countries in the Southern Hemisphere where they are also interested in rugby and have similar sporting cultures,” Begley said.
“So it’s a bit of a no-brainer to reach out to these areas where they are really passionate about their sport.”
Clients looking to hire a sports star can contact the company via its website.
Pickstars then sends out a tender to its database of athletes who accept the invitation based on its location, price or if they feel a personal connection to the cause.
The company co-ordinates the details with the players and their managers and then receives 25 per cent commission of every hire with the remainder going directly to the athlete.
The list of corporate clients within Australia includes Red Bull, McDonalds, Deloitte and Uber.
Pickstars has also helped organisations hire sports stars who had a personal connection with different causes such as a retired Australian Football legend who spoke at a cancer conference.
Silk Laser Clinics from South Australia’s capital Adelaide used Pickstar to hire an athlete who wanted to have a tattoo removed for its marketing campaign.
Former Port Adelaide footballer Kane Cornes then had a tattoo removed at the clinic, which led to the facility being booked out for the next three months.
The company also brought Australian field hockey captain and Olympic champion Mark Knowles to a Victorian high school awards night.
Knowles said Pickstar opened up more opportunities for athletes who may not come from mainstream sports.
“The advantage of Pickstar for fans, organisations and businesses is that no matter the budget or timeframe, Pickstar has athletes who can fill this void,” he said.
“Yes the extra income and extra opportunities was a big reason for signing up.
“Without a management company, I was hardly ever seen in the public eye, now I can apply for school talks, presentation days, corporate speaking and many more opportunities.
“This has been fantastic for me in earning a small amount of extra income that is highly valuable to my family, that previously I wasn't getting.”
Pickstar is updating its system in the coming months in an attempt to strengthen its marketing and awareness campaign. It plans to launch its international operations in the second half of this year.