By Riley Kaminer
For Issa Hall, sports and community have always come hand-in-hand. An attorney by trade, he uses sports to decompress from intense days in the courthouse. “Playing and talking about sports is the basis of my friendship with many people,” Hall told Refresh Miami.
“There’s an underlying element of sports that’s just as strong as politics, or religion, or culture, that is extremely powerful and impacts a lot of people,” Hall explained.
The problem: connections through sports can often happen in a silo – on the field, on the court, in a group chat with friends. But Hall wanted a way to build a community around sports at scale.
In 2020, alongside co-founder Madison Savarese, Hall launched JRZY, a hub for athletes to own their brand and connect with the broader athletic community.
Of course, there is also significant profits to be had in the sports industry, which is expected to hit half a trillion dollars globally this year. The sports tech market itself accounts for upwards of $17 billion of that figure, with an expected annual growth rate of 17.5%.
“The mission of JRZY is simple: connect the world’s athletes to make them more productive and successful,” said Hall.
JRZY’s platform is focused on three aspects. Top of the list: community. Through JRZY, athletes can meet, learn about, and interact with each other. They are able to create a LinkedIn-style ‘resume’ showcasing their experience. And they can meet fans and network with potential sponsors.
The second aspect is product. JRZY has a marketplace where users can offer and purchase goods and services. NFTs are at the core of their product initiative, enabling users to create and sell digital trading cards through their platform.
“The NFTs trading cards are a form of a sponsorship,” said Hall. “Athletes present the NFTs – collectors’ items – as a way for their community to sponsor them and fund their dreams in exchange for an asset that could actually grow in value.” South Florida is increasingly becoming a hub for NFT projects with a focus on sports, including DPC Labs, OnlyGems, and OneOf.
Third is content. JRZY Mag is the company’s media arm, sharing stories from athletes in their network.
Already, JRZY has experienced some significant early traction. The 1,100 active users currently in their beta launch have a combined audience of over three million followers. Overall, JRZY itself has an audience of around 50,000 through its social media presence and magazine subscribers.
One feature of JRZY’s platform is connecting professional athletes with potential sponsors. However, Hall acknowledged that this is just a small portion of JRZY’s audience, and therefore the broader goal remains to build a community of athletes of all experience levels.
“We’re giving opportunities to the 98% who have not who do not usually have access to services like agents,” he explained. “We aim to create an economic opportunity for every athlete in the world.”
JRZY’s 10-person team has been going through the 2022 EndeavorLAB Cohort for Black Founders in partnership with Dell for Startups. For Hall, the program has been extremely valuable. “Every single day, we take something we learn from EndeavorLAB and apply it to our work.”
While JRZY has yet to chase any external funding, Hall signaled that a VC fundraise is likely coming soon. In the meantime, he is excited to continue developing JRZY’s platform to address the needs of its users.
READ MORE IN REFRESH MIAMI:
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- Only Gems launches platform for asset-backed NFT trading cards
- Meet the Miami natives creating an NFT trading card marketplace focused on high school and college athletes
- Gemini Sports Analytics raises $1.5M to modernize the world of athlete management
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