Connecting players and coaches with academies, resorts and travel Companies worldwide with its aim to increase participation in sport, SportsProsConnect is a platform which connects job seeking tennis coaches to their future employers.
We caught up with its founder, Mark Wylam to talk about tennis coaches, employers and the current market amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furqan ur Rehman: Mark tell us about SportsProsConnect, how did it all start? Describe the inspiration and the story.
Mark Wylam: Well, my father died in September 2015 and after he retired he wrote a book on running Social Tennis Tournaments.
For obvious reasons, he named the business, Social Tennis. My wife and I helped him out a lot and when he was given 6 months to live. He told us that he was going to hand the business over to me.
I didn’t know what to make of that, but I did know that I had always wanted to work in sport in some way! In February 2016 I left my job at the time to work on his business full-time. It was the best decision I ever made.
I developed the business to how I wanted it over time, however, what I wanted to do didn’t really coincide with the name of the business. So in June 2018, we re-branded to SportsProsConnect.
I built a company ethos of connecting tennis coaches with clubs, academies & resorts worldwide and we have developed from there.
One of the reasons I chose ‘SportsProsConnect’ is that I wanted the opportunity to develop into other sports over time. This hasn’t quite happened yet, but there are still plans to do so.
Currently our biggest market would definitely be tennis coaches. We are hoping that our ‘Tennis Player Profiles’ will become our biggest market in time.
I really like the name, who came up with the idea?
When the business was called Social Tennis, I felt that the name of the company really didn’t fit what I was trying to do. I had many discussions with people in the industry who I respected greatly.
The vast majority agreed with me, however, I was reluctant to change the name as the business was passed down to me by my late father as a legacy to me.
However, the sales were not coming in as quickly as I wanted and after discussions with my family, we decided it was best for the business. At the end of the day, we were trying to connect tennis coaches with job opportunities and the opportunity to travel and visit academies and clubs around the world. This is where the ‘ProsConnect’ came in.
Then, in order to open up more opportunities, we decided to add “Sports”. Hence the name of SportsProsConnect was formed.
So what is the SportsProsConnect platform, is it an app, a web-based platform or both, and how does it work?
There are plans in the future to develop into an app but currently, we are a website. We are primarily an International Tennis Coaching Jobs Platform.
We help tennis coaches from all over the world to find international tennis coaching opportunities. So we charge tennis coaches an annual fee to promote themselves on our tennis coach directory.
We work with them to create an online profile and list them on our worldwide directory of tennis coaches. Recruiters around the world then advertise jobs on the platform and we will give the coaches the opportunity to apply for these positions.
When the coach applies for the position, the application includes the coach’s CV that we have already created and we will check on the application and send it to the client if we feel the coach fits the criteria that the employer is looking for.
We insist that each coach must include a cover letter as to why they would be a good fit for the role. There is also a lot more to the platform than just the jobs for coaches.
In fact, we have recently launched a Tennis Player Profile part to the platform where we have a team of mentors looking to help the next generation of tennis players reach their next level in tennis.
Who are the SportsProsConnect end-users, surely the Tennis Pro athletes & coaches but can it be used by anyone playing tennis or looking to play the game?
Currently, the main part to the platform is the coaches and employers, but since we developed SportsProsConnect we have added a destinations section, products, services & events section, and a players section.
So, in answer to your question, we believe that anybody within the tennis industry can benefit from using the platform in some way.
Technology has offered all the opportunity to connect in many different ways, how is SportsProsConnect different from what’s already there in the market?
We believe that we are an extremely unique platform. I certainly haven’t seen too many platforms such as ours. I think our greatest strength is our customer/client interaction.
We will have met or at least spoken in detail with 95% of our clients before registration and our customer retention is extremely high.
None of our clients are just numbers and all have their own goals. We aim to help them achieve these goals in an efficient way. Whereas we cannot guarantee success for everyone, we will always do our best to help each one of our customers achieve what they have set out to achieve!
What is your biggest market in terms of clients or customers?
Currently, our biggest market would definitely be tennis coaches. We are hoping that our ‘Tennis Player Profiles’ will become our biggest market in time.
There are far more tennis players out there that can benefit from our amazing team of mentors!
All industries have been effected by the terrible pandemic that we are currently going through. We have and continue to be effected by COVID.
How has the recent pandemic affected the Tennis industry, more importantly your business?
All industries have been affected by the terrible pandemic that we are currently going through. We have and continue to be affected by COVID. The greatest factors are of course the lack of travel opportunities and the lack of being able to play and coach tennis.
This is having a huge impact on our business, but I am a believer that in times like this you need to be able to react fast and do things out of your comfort zone.
Whilst COVID is still affecting millions of people around the world, there are of course positives that come from it. It is giving us more time to concentrate on different projects which will, of course, impact the industry in a positive way!
COVID is creating an opportunity for tennis, and its how we choose to react to it that will be key to businesses surviving and in fact thriving in the near future.
Can we expect to see SportsProsConnect expanding beyond Tennis?
The reason we re-branded to SportsProsConnect was so that we could expand past tennis if the opportunity ever existed. We have dabbled with trying other sports, and we will do so again no doubt.
I personally think that the platform is tailor-made for other sports, and I really hope that opportunities will come up in the future with other sports.
You never know, somebody reading this article may well see potential in it for their sport? I’m certainly interested in hearing from other people that would be willing to discuss an opportunity such as this.
As we all expect this COVID-19 pandemic to change the dynamics of the sports industry forever, do you see individual sports gaining more momentum than ever?
Like I mentioned earlier in the interview, there is an amazing opportunity for tennis at this time to gain more players and fans of the game.
Tennis and golf have been the first sports back after lockdown in a lot of places around the world. They are ideal sports for social distancing and I see a great future for these sports as long as the governing bodies do things the right way.
I am not going to be the one who changes these sports for the better, but I am hopeful there are enough good people in tennis who have the ability to enable tennis to thrive.
Let’s hope that COVID goes away as soon as possible and enables the sports industry to get back to the new normal as soon we can!
Any other words you’d like to add?
I just want to thank Furqan and the team at Sportageous for giving me the opportunity to talk a little about SportsProsConnect. I would love for anybody who is interested in following us or getting in touch about anything to do so using the following channels. I am also open to discussing anything on the phone or WhatsApp on +353867922188 or via email on [email protected]