OU INC client and Oakland University alum-turned-hockey entrepreneur
Monday, July 22, 2013
OU INC client and Oakland University alum-turned-hockey entrepreneurJoining the OU INC client family in October 2012, Rob Bartlett, SBA '10, was looking forward to getting a business plan in order and finally getting his on-demand hockey service off the ground and to local rinks around Michigan.
"I play in adult leagues," he says. "The opportunity we're trying to provide refers to impulsive play. Normal leagues are based off of a fixed schedule. Creating virtual demand for vacant rink time and customer value-added propositions is the goal of Portal-Sports.com."
With guidance from the OU INC team, Bartlett and his team were able to establish a functioning platform that is focused on providing an enhanced customer experience for the common athlete or hockey player and deliver a social network feel for managers and players to converge in their local community.
Managers can also view real-time customer demand to their facility and reach out to athletes who are interested in using vacant rink time.
"Through coaching Rob Bartlett as an accelerator client, OU INC is able to continue supporting Oakland University alumni and expand the university's efforts of serving OU grads by connecting and sustaining positive relationships that last a life-time," says Amy Butler, executive director of OU INC. "It is very rewarding to work with younger alumni who truly exemplify the talents of their generation and bring success to themselves and the community."
During his time at OU as a marketing and psychology major, the alum received a life-changing injury while playing in an OU vs. Purdue lacrosse game. This led to Bartlett's discovering of a very unlikely relationship.
"While injured for nine months, I got hooked into online gaming and the instant availability it proposed," Bartlett says. "Knowing the latest tech efforts in the video game world far exceeded innovation in the athletic field. I felt this market was left behind or neglected. There was no process in place to provide instant availability or even come close to measuring up to the virtual gaming world."
Through a website application, Portal Sports aims to bring hockey players together for impromptu games at local rinks. Using technology, players are able to follow their favorite rinks, receive SMS text-roster position confirmation, and transaction mediation through the purchase of "Zӧltz," or credits used to pay for individual rink time and meet fellow players.
"A larger percentage of athletic participation is dedicated to youth hockey development, which is a good thing," Barlett says. "Adult prime-time participation is squeezed because primary demand goes to kids. The remaining rink time for adults is usually pushed to the late-night time slots. Portal Sports offers a way to grab on-demand participation for wherever rink time is available. If adult participation is limited to a late-night window, we provide alternate means," Bartlett says.
As a part of OU INC services, Bartlett and his team received support from MI-SBTDC, Michigan's branch of the Small Business and Technology Development Center for their business plan and introduced them to the various Michigan-organized competitions.
"As a grass-roots company, we have a functional website that is in perpetual beta mode," Bartlett says. "We are constantly looking to tweak and improve the design, and after updating a few customer enhancements, we plan to focus on getting mobile development pushed to the app store. Development has wavered from diminished capital, but there's a huge demand for the product from both the arena managers and players alike."
To learn more about Portal Sports, log on to portal-sports.com.
Located on the campus of Oakland University, OU INC is a SmartZone Business Accelerator and Clean Energy Research Center that enables clients to reach beyond the ordinary by providing entrepreneurial resources and strategic business solutions for accelerating ideas to market. Areas of focus include clean energy and energy efficiency, medical devices and information technology. OU INC provides customized services to assist domestic and international businesses. To learn more, visit oakland.edu/ouinc.