Some of the best businesses are started by entrepreneurs who personally understand the market before they launch a company. Gabe Lozano was a baseball player before he was an entrepreneur. After 17 years of playing ball, he understood both the fundamentals of the game as well as the size of the market. In 2008 he started LockerDome to capitalize on a huge fragmented market of 45 million young athletes between the ages of 6-18 in the U.S.
LockerDome is an online platform that brings together athletes and teams from across the country. They help large sports clubs build places online where athletes can create individual player profiles, upload videos and share with their teammates. Their customers are large athletic programs with hundreds to thousands of athletes, including groups like Baseball for All, Rush Soccer and the East Coast Showcase.
In the last 45 days the company has experienced a surge of growth. The LockerDome team has more than doubled in size this summer from 5 to 14 people, and in August the company will release a mobile application allowing parents to upload video of their young athletes directly to their LockerDome profiles from their cell phones.
But this growth did not occur overnight. It took LockerDome years of experimenting and refining their product to figure out what it would take to get sports clubs to pay them. One of the company’s most critical milestones was landing a select baseball team, the St. Louis Gamers, as an early paying customer. The team wanted their own site where players could create profiles, share video and highlight their successes under a St. Louis Gamers banner, not something under a standalone LockerDome branded site. This insight helped the company pivot and start developing a platform where large athletic clubs and camps can create their own athlete networks.
The company’s team includes a number of online sports industry veterans. In addition to CEO Gabe Lozano, the Director of Operations Carol Matthews co-founded CDM Fantasy Sports which she grew to over 100 employees. The company’s marketing department was recently bolstered by the strategic hiring of Jim Enright, a former SVP of Sales and Marketing for Fanball. LockerDome also just closed on an Angel round which included serial entrepreneur Hal Gentry, recent founder of St. Louis’ new accelerator program Capital Innovators. Another investor was Charlie Weigert, known in the industry as the Godfather of Fantasy Sports. Also investing was Brian Matthews, another St. Louis serial entrepreneur who sold one of his company’s, Primary Networks, to Mpower Communications for $145 million. Lozano said that Matthews has been incredibly helpful and like a co-CEO to him.
With continued traction like this, it will not be long until LockerDome is known as the LinkedIn of youth athletics.