The Interview - Ole Martin Vebenstad (Founder & CEO SportIn Global)
It was a pleasure for SPSG Consulting to talk to Ole Martin Vebenstad, founder and CEO of SportIn Global. The startup is a sports business platform that aims to join like-minded sports professionals to build valuable connections, gain industry knowledge and find their next career step. During the interview, Ole Martin deep-dives into the beginning of his company, his mission, goals, plans for the future, and even some of the main challenges caused by digital transformation. Carlos Cantó, CEO of SPSG Consulting, is member of the Advisory Board of SportIn Global.
You are the CEO of SportIn Global, a start-up, from Norway, with a global scale. Can you elaborate a little bit more about the history of the company?
SportIn Global came to life during my master degree in Sport Management at the University of San Francisco. After discovering a major gap and challenge in the industry, we spent the next 2 years building a strong foundation by researching the market and understanding the key challenges and needs in the recruitment space. By talking with key leaders and stakeholders in the global sport industry, we went on to build a core team and a strong board of advisors to help solve these challenges. We released our public beta January 2020 and have now partners and clients in 12 countries. Our key pillars are built upon Network, Experience and Knowledge and are the staple of every initiative and partnership we introduce.
What are the main challenges you think students are facing in the process to enter in the sports industry?
As a former student and through our massive research across the globe, the key main challenges for students come down to; lack of network, lack of experience and lack of knowledge. To elaborate on these challenges, a student's biggest advantage is their passion for the sport industry. But the majority struggles to know how to start their professional career. With the massive growth of sport-related programs, the competition is extremely high. Which means you need to stand out. This is where your network, experience and knowledge comes into place. And a great way to start, is to create a profile at SportIn Global where you can work on all these factors as you progress through your career.
You have signed several agreements with universities. What are the main needs these universities are trying to fulfill?
Universities tend to have a lot of the same needs. They want to help their students succeed and attract new students to their program. The better their students and alumni perform in the industry, the more attractive the program and University becomes. Another challenge is being able to track that progress. Hence being able to gather and utilise their alumni as a resource will be key. Our platform provides you the opportunity to not only attract new students, but gather your alumni and utilise it as a resource.
In addition, you are assisting distinguished sport entities (clubs, federations, companies, events, etc.) in identifying the best professional talent. What are the main requirements companies and entities are asking?
There are several key requirements that the companies and entities are asking, but one of the most important factors these days, is the applicants relevancy. Not only based on your academic and professional experience, but your values and mindset. They want people that can provide value and a system that saves them time and resources. And this is where our recruitment system built on AI comes into place. It helps us match our users with sports organisations, so the companies can focus on what matters. Picking the most suitable candidate.
Digital transformation is key for any sport entity / stakeholder, nowadays and in the future. How is SportIn Global embracing the digital transformation in order to better service your clients and what are the main challenges you are facing?
As we are building a digital platform and community from scratch, it is vital that we build a secure and safe place following the GDPR regulations. Every initiative we do, has to benefit the platform and community, so we can continue to provide top value for our users, Universities and sports organisations. Our job is to not only develop a system, but be ahead of the game. Not to follow trends, but create them and set a new standard for sports recruitment. This is our biggest challenge, but it is a challenge we are excited to have. With innovation and digital transformation in the industry, it creates opportunities and new ways to create value for your target markets. The more sports organisations adapt, the faster the digital transformation inside will happen. We are proud to help stimulate and be part of that journey.