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Feasibility Study to Combat Physical Inactivity and Improve Sporting Skills through SCULT Sport Mentors and Coaches Marketplace

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SCULTMARKET (Feasibility Study to Combat Physical Inactivity and Improve Sporting Skills through SCULT Sport Mentors and Coaches Marketplace)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

SCULT Ltd. is an Estonian socially oriented SME developing an on-demand solution for citizens to book sport mentors and coaches anywhere. SCULT Ltd. is part of a wider Sport Lifestyle Social Enterprise (SCULT WORLD), serving the global sport volunteers community. SCULTmarket platform will improve the access for citizens to sport instructors, mentors and coaches. By applying a novel technological platform to create new and unique market space between sport mentors, coaches and citizens, SCULT is the first to the market with a compelling business case to effectively combat physical inactivity globally.

Although the global sports industry is growing faster than the overall GDP, physical inactivity among citizens is undeniably emerging as a severe public health challenge. Currently about 26% of European adults (aged 18+) and 80% of adolescents (aged 5-17) do not engage in sufficient physical activity. Many people want to do sports since they understand the health benefits, but find it difficult to get motivated despite the ubiquity of various gadgets that are supposed to help them (e.g. Endomondo, HeiaHeia!, etc.). The people who occasionally do sports are usually not knowledgeable in how to train technically and physiologically properly, as they lack methodological supervision and guidance. The people looking for a sports discipline that would best fit their physiological needs and capabilities have no efficient way to do so, as the economic interest of sports and fitness clubs is to lock in the customer with a yearly subscription to a single discipline.

Sport mentoring and coaching fulfils an important social function in motivating and supporting people in doing sports regularly and physiologically correctly. Mentors and coaches in Europe are typically volunteers or freelancers, and are accessed only through closed personal and professional sport networks. However, for a regular citizen interested in employing a professional, with current solutions the access to sport coaches and mentors is chaotic. At the same time, vast majority of mentors and coaches are currently volunteers that cannot monetize their services in a way that would be both legal and convenient. This is the core two-sided problem and opportunity that SCULTmarket is the first to address.

The focus of our SME Instrument Phase 1 project was a feasibility study to define the business and technological conditions for the SCULTmarket application. The specific objective of the SCULTmarket feasibility study project was to verify the business model from the practical, social, technological and economic point of view. More precisely, the following objectives were set:
• Business model development, validation and community building activities.
• Intellectual property study and branding strategy.
• Technical feasibility study.
In short, the following activities were performed during the project period:
Business model development and validation
• Market research of existing services.
• Literature review around topics like coaching, dual careers in sport, etc.
• Interviews with sport coaches, current and former professional sportsmen.
• Interviews with companies using similar marketplace technologies / solutions in other areas.
• Potential partnership interviews and negotiations.
• Participating and testing the SCULTmarket idea in different fields and sport events.
Community building activities
• Analysis of different social movements and their (potential) role in developing sustainable competitive advantage for SUCLT.
• Analysis the nature of sport volunteering in different countries.
• Development of social communes on Facebook to bring together sport volunteers
• Development of a web tool to test the matching solutions between the sport volunteers and sport event organisers.
• Arranging different events to boost the community development.
Intellectual Property study and branding strategy
• International trademark databases research.
• Trans-media brand strategy development.
• Trademark protection preparation and plan outside the European Community.
Technical feasibility study
• Analysis of different technologies and technological platforms used for digital marketplaces.
• Analysis of suitable front- and back-end technologies to develop sport volunteering information sharing platform.

As the main result, we achieved validation to our business model and a focused scope for further product development and piloting activities. To secure the long term competitive advantage to SCULTmarket and to widen its social impact, SCULT WORLD as a sport lifestyle social enterprise will continue also developing its community, namely the World Sport Volunteers Movement and related services like SCULTfind. International intellectual property study brought out that both, the SCULT brand name and its visual ‘The SCULT man’ have relatively high freedom to operate in different classes. Technology feasibility analysed different technology development perspectives and also experiences from other companies and business fields. It developed an in-depth development and software strategy for further technology development, both from the font-end and back-end sides.
SCULTmarket application for matchmaking between sport mentors/coaches and citizens is a part of a larger SCULT Sport Volunteers Movement. Our holistic and community-driven approach ensures reaching wide target audiences and make a sizeable socio-economic impact to the sport volunteering field in Europe at large. This also makes the SCULTmarket application highly scalable across the entire sports industry.

The sport industry relies heavily on wide spectrum of volunteers. For example, in Finland 199 out of 200 people related to sport clubs and events are volunteers. Volunteers are the core component of sport service delivery and an important element of sport event management, since they provide sport administrators with the ability to maintain and expand the quality and diversity of a sport entity’s services. At the community sport level, volunteers serve as coaches, officials, team managers, administrators, board and committee members; with many individuals filling multiple roles. Volunteers also help to run sports events by carrying roles from “water boys”, to team leaders, up until fundraising managers and event organizers. Sport is also the most attractive field for volunteering, in which 7% of EU adult population take part either occasionally or regularly.

Indeed, the seamless access for sport event organizers to suitable volunteer candidates is nearly missing, both locally and internationally. The information about the volunteers, their skills, preferences and contacts collected from their involvement in previous events are not accessible anywhere, because each sport event organizer carries out the search individually. As sport events heavily rely on volunteers and their turnover is big, finding volunteers is a constant problem across countries and sport disciplines. Therefore, solving this challenge is the one of the main focuses of the proposed SCULT Sport Volunteers Movement and our technology platform.

Drawn from the current feasibility study and practical experiences during the process, there are three dimensions from where the SCULT business models will be further developed:
(a) Running a pilot project to successfully launch the focused SCULTmarket platform;
(b) Sport Volunteers community building (i.e. World Sport Volunteers Movement);
(c) Complex technological platform development to support both SCULTmarket and the overall Volunteers Movement.

Giving our good experiences with the SME instrument phase 1 and the fact that we will pursue with the project idea, we are planning to participate and submit a project proposal also to the SME instrument phase 2.
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