Round 11
Winner
SPORTCADEMIC

To encourage, fund, register, certify, and track the academic and sports career of young prospects.

Budget request:  
$10,000
*
WebsiteCode

Project Stage

Research

Category

Education & Community

Based in

Barcelona, Spain

Team size

6

Active since

1997
Products & Services

Student-athletes are always struggling for the much needed funding required to keep up with their highly demanding competitions. Universities, especially in Europe, lack the resources to enroll, fund, and help student-athletes have a more balanced university life that involves good grades and a fulfilling sports career. Our solution will seek to encourage, fund, register, certify, and track the academic and sports career of young prospects, while creating a long-lasting relationship with their angel investors, who will benefit from the use of the athletes’ growing brand images.


We believe the Stellar blockchain can work as the platform upon which most of these functions will be carried out, not only because of the need to account for academic and sports performances in a public and transparent way, but also, as a reinforcing mechanism between investors and student-athletes. We think of our solution as a win-win-win for all the parties involved. Students, for obvious reasons, as receivers of financial support and encouragement; investors, as agents of change that profit on the athlete’s brand image they help create (e.g. via its tokenization); and the university, as a hub of innovation that welcomes prospective elite athletes.


Specifically, we expect to rely on the Stellar blockchain to:

  • Certify academic records
  • Certify sports milestones and awards
  • Generate wallets (connected to Metamask) for business angels and student-athletes, along with their accounts on a university platform, so they can make transactions
  • Manage the student-athletes’ university payments and bonuses with a Stellar virtual POS, which includes: enrollment fees, internships, scholarships, investments
  • Manage the student-athletes – business angels transactions in the platform (account deposits and benefit withdrawals)
  • Manage the investments and acquisitions through tokens on the Stellar blockchain.


We believe this project can be developed into a sustainable business model that can be offered to universities with an inclination for sports and internationalization.

Our sketch below provides a simple walk-through of our solution.

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Previous Project(s)
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Progress so far

We are currently at ‘Technology readiness level 2’, TRL2 (Technology concept and application formulated). In the past three months we have been building a database of prospective students and investors as to produce the corresponding matchups, and are tapping into alternative funding opportunities and engaging our closest stakeholders by means of a media campaign which includes sessions, interviews, and teaching.


We have also been working closely with our partners HashingDNA and Myoo to lay out the main features our Stellar-based solution will offer. This resulted in a more nuanced description of our solution, a more down-to-earth and quantifiable set of objectives, and a more reasonable budget for SCF #11.

Goals
  1. Build an MVP around the idea of funding student-athletes and give angel investors a transparent platform on which to track performances, both academic and sports-related
  2. Set up a university platform and a commercial website
  3. Engage actively with the community
  4. Target 6-10 UIC Barcelona student-athletes along with their investors (w/i 6 months)
  5. Target 4-6 universities open to this project (w/i 12 months, but starting early on)
To get there, we  will use our requested budget of  
$10,000
*
  to:

In order to have a working platform along with a commercial website we will have to take the following steps:

  • Add the Stellar Certification API to the platform
  • Deploy a production server
  • Server & platform maintenance
  • Develop a POS
  • Create wallets
  • Link wallets to Metamask
  • Special licenses
  • Agreements with universities
  • Personal or freelance support
  • Freelance support is required to develop the platform as agreed with the team
  • No special personnel is required for the development of the platform
Overview

Target market

Our target market will at first be rather limited. We are unaware of anyone implementing this idea in the university sphere yet, nor there is any serious effort at the academic level in Spain to fund and support prospective student-athletes. Our project will revolve around these students and their potential angel investors who will ideally “meet” on the blockchain, as to create a long-lasting relationship. The selection of student-athletes will be rather easy, as their enrollment numbers are very low. Precisely, one of the goals is to see this number go up as a result of our implementing the blockchain to track down performances, both academic and sport-related. On the investor’s side, even though the university is well connected with its layers upon layers of stakeholders, it will be no understatement to say that we will be sailing on uncharted waters. Our aim is, on the first year, to have a few students partially funded, both in terms of their enrollment fees and their sports-related activities. Hopefully, we can expect to build our base of both students and investors every year. Starting on the second year, after our first-year of getting familiar with our business model, we will be targeting universities as to see our model implemented across the educational sector.


Revenue model

We do not expect to generate revenue on the first year, as the university will be performing as an intermediary between student-athletes and angel investors. However, we believe this business model can be easily extrapolated to other like-minded universities that would likely pay to have this service implemented in their own spheres, once it has shown a modicum of success in our own institution. In the end, our project can become a good mechanism to attract students with a potential in the field of sports as to become enrolled in a university program. Thus, we aim at generating revenue after the first year once our blockchain solution is implemented at UIC Barcelona. Hopefully, we will offer our business idea to those universities that would like to see their number of student-athletes increase. A few academic institutions will be tapped during the first year, both in Spain and abroad.


Pricing strategy

Due to the disruptive nature of the project and the latent business niche we will try price skimming as a first strategy once we have set our idea moving in the first year. Price skimming happens when goods and services are priced higher so that fewer sales are needed to break even. We will rely on ‘skimming’ first as to reimburse the cost of investment of the original research, as early adopters typically show a relatively lower price sensitivity—which can be attributed to their need for the product outweighing their need to economize, or to a greater understanding of the product's value.


Sales forecast

A few academic institutions will be targeted on the second half of the first year, both locally and internationally, and we expect to see these numbers go up as years go by. Our financial plan (expected P&L, attached as image) for a 5-year period takes account of these potential sales and the needed maintenance service, which will be our sole sources of revenue.


Industry and market research

According to a recent PwC report for Spain, the sports industry there boasts a 3.3% of the Spanish GDP in revenue, and a 2.1% in occupation out of total employment—both figures account for so-called direct, indirect, and induced impacts. In numbers, and only considering the direct impacts, the sports industry in Spain generates roughly 15B EUR in revenue and employs around 200K employees.


Moreover, according to the Ministry of Universities (2022), there have been 1.3M undergraduate, 248K master, and 90K students enrolled in Spanish universities during 2020-21. The shares of degrees being offered were as: 39% undergraduate, 46%, graduate, and 15% PhDs. Our own university, UIC Barcelona, has around 8.000 students enrolled, and we expect to see these numbers go up by the use the blockchain in the near future.


We believe the numbers shown above represent an enticing prospect for adding value in the intersection of these two thriving sectors, sports and education, while employing the blockchain technology as the disruptive and value-adding catalyst.


References:

  • Termómetro del ecosistema del deporte en España (Spanish only), PwC and Fundación España Activa (2020).
  • Datos y cifras del Sistema Universitario Español (Spanish only), Ministry of Universities, Spain (2022).


Threats and opportunities

In a nutshell, we can identify a few items in the context of a SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths: university know-how, we know the sector, both academic and sports
  • Weaknesses: first time we do this from the university (but who says it’s a weakness!). Partners Myoo and HashingDNA have been working with the blockchain for some time now.
  • Opportunities: there is a latent market niche and the timing seems auspicious
  • Threats: a changing legal and tax environment, in addition to world uncertainty and a pervasive inflation.


Competition

We are aware of a newly created start-up, Petronus, with a similar vision, but we a focus on the sports sector. Another recent endeavor in the Barcelona area is Token Champions, led by Josep Maria Miguella, a well-known and established players agent. His project allows customers to invest in the careers of soccer players early on via security tokens, which eventually might report benfits as the market value of the players go up with their performance.

On the other hand, we believe our comparative advantage lies primarily within the university sector, as the idea of fully funded student-athletes has not yet been addressed. One of the main deficits student-athletes typically run into has to do with their own marketability.

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Links:
UIC Barcelona

Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC hereafter) has been at the forefront of educational practice since 1997. The university boasts around 8.000 students, 16 degree programs, 8 double degrees, around thirty double international degrees, and a wide range of master’s and postgraduate degrees and continuing education courses in two campuses, Barcelona and Sant Cugat del Vallès. Partners HashingDNA and Myoo will join in and bring their blockchain expertise onboard.

Team

Pablo Agnese (UIC Barcelona; discord: pagnese#9066)

Project lead

Pablo holds a PhD in economics (2010) from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. His research interests include offshoring and welfare, trade, and cryptonomics and the blockchain. He currently holds a tenured Lecturer position at UIC Barcelona, Spain, and up until recently held a Visiting Professor position at FH Düsseldorf, Germany (2011—2015). He has been teaching economics courses to both undergrad and grad students since 2007 in a few countries, namely, Spain, Germany, and Argentina.

He has published in renowned journals of economics such as Economic Modelling, International Review of Economics and Finance, Pacific Economic Review, and Journal of Economic Policy Reform, among others. He has been teaching and studying the crypto and blockchain ecosystem since 2013, and was a professional sportsman himself for a few years (2002-2005, roller-quad-hockey, Spanish and Catalonian leagues). He has been a crypto-blockchain enthusiast since 2013. www.linkedin.com/in/pagnese


Pedro Garcia del Barrio (University of Navarra),

Academic consultant

Pedro is a Senior lecturer and researcher at the Universidad de Navarra and academic director of MERIT social value. He has collaborated in the development a methodology for evaluating talent in sports through media value appraisals. In this context, he has authored more than 30 professional reports on media value in sports. His research has mainly focused on Industrial, Labor, and Sports Economics. Recent publications include: Labor, Applied Economics, Journal of Sports Economics, Managerial and Decision Economics, Intangible Capital, Review of Industrial Organization, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Economic Modelling, International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, Journal of Economics, Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Economics of Governance, Journal of Regulatory Economics, etc. www.linkedin.com/in/pedrog5/


Laura Rubio (UIC Barcelona)

Communication manager

Laura holds a Law degree and is a PhD candidate in Economic History at Pompeu Fabra University. She holds a master's degree in World History and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration, both from Pompeu Fabra University.  She also holds a PDD from IESE Business School. She has worked as project manager and business development director in HR and eLearning fields. Among others, she has been Sales & Mk director in UPC School (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya), director of Communications and Dissemination in the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation (FCRI), and director of Communications in UIC Barcelona. Currently, she is the Chief of Cabinet and Director of External Relations at UIC Barcelona. www.linkedin.com/in/laurarubioortega/


Frederic Van Dyck (UIC Barcelona)

Project liaison

Frederic is a professional with more than 15 years of experience in the higher education sector. He holds a degree in Business Administration from Staffordshire University and a degree in Public Relations and Advertising from ESERP Business School. He also holds a master's degree in Product Management from EADA Business School. Frederic has worked in 3 educational institutions in the last 10 years (ESADE Business School, Barcelona School of Economics, and UIC Barcelona) focusing his work in the development of the Alumni Communities. Currently, he is the Alumni and Career Services Director at UIC Barcelona. Frederic is a great enthusiast about the crypto world and is very familiar with the entrepreneurial and investors ecosystem in Spain. www.linkedin.com/in/fredericdyck/


Edgar Jorda (HashingDNA CEO)

Blockchain consultant

Edgar holds a management degree in Esade and a MBA in University of Illinois (UoI). He has been involved in the startup ecosystem since the very beginning of his career. Just after finishing his studies in University of Illinois he launched a content bank based on internet (1999) for Spanish speakers website located mainly in America (North and South America) and Spain. He made a successful EXIT after selling the company to AoL. After that he moved to Samsung where he was in charge of all the internet activity (first on a local basis in Spain and after that on an international basis) from publicity to online sales (definition and launch of the project, where he gets recognition from Korea board of directors). Later he moved to manage an innovation ecosystem from Esadecreapolis (early 2008 after professor Henry Chesbourgh published his open innovation book). Prior to becoming HashingDNA's CEO.he had a leading role in Esadecreapolis. www.linkedin.com/in/edgarjorda/


Llorenç Bové (Myoo.io CEO)

Blockchain specialist

Llorenç is a serial entrepreneur, creating disruptive Startups in different sectors, and managing to patent (in the US) the application of QR codes in consumer products to obtain "cash back" and geolocated information from the point of consumption. Creator of The Testus program to promote the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the province of Girona, and partner of Xkelet Easy Life, a leading company in the automation of 3D scanning for the creation of immobilizations. With 22 years of experience in the out-of-hospital medical emergency sector, he is now CEO of Myoo.io, a Startup in the Health, Sports, and Blockchain sector. www.linkedin.com/in/llorensbove/