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Sports Business Intelligence: Center City sports analytics dashboard signs three new pro teams, looks to grow

Imagine you own the Philadelphia Phillies. Philly has just played their 2012 home opener and while you care about attendance, you also want to know about food and merchandise sales, walkup ticket sales, total revenue and you want to know how all of that compares to home openers for the last ten years. You could […]

A demo of the main Sports Business Intelligence dashboard.

Imagine you own the Philadelphia Phillies.

Philly has just played their 2012 home opener and while you care about attendance, you also want to know about food and merchandise sales, walkup ticket sales, total revenue and you want to know how all of that compares to home openers for the last ten years.

You could hound an entry-level staffer to crunch the numbers, but Sports Business Intelligence founder David Adams would prefer you give his sports analytics dashboard a try.

“What this does now is takes the data they get in Excel and brings it to life,” said Adams, who is a Wharton alumnus and a Brewerytown resident.

Adams isn’t running numbers for the Philadelphia Phillies just yet, though he’d like to, but in just the last month, he has brought on the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, the NBA’s Washington Wizards and WNBA’s Washington Mystics as clients. The Washington Capitals began using Sports Business Intelligence last November, Adams told Technically Philly.

“The Washington Capitals are one of the hottest tickets in D.C. They see the value,” Adams said. “The NHL, NBA, and MLB teams are more receptive because they will be able to see the value immediately from it. The teams that are sold out, like NFL teams, they are going to be a little harder to come by. There is a lot of value, but it’s not as obvious.”

The value of an analytics dashboard, Adams says, is the ability to know more about what is happening with your sports business than it is really possible to keep track of without automating data collection.

“My program doesn’t answer the why, it just answers the what,” Adams said.

Adams agreed to demo the service for Technically Philly. Here’s how it works.

When Adams signs a team — professional, minor league, or other — SBI culls all the teams daily, weekly and monthly analytics reports and creates a program to sort the data. That data is then used to populate the dashboard, which updates as new data is collected.

In the long term, Adams told Technically Philly, Adams and his IT lead Ken Hahr plan to be able to design a program that can pull data directly out of a team’s business management system, bypassing the need to input individual reports.

Team owners can then quickly use that information to make informed business decisions about their teams.

Oftentimes, Adams says, he finds himself helping teams track stats on factors they wouldn’t even think to monitor — like tracking how weather affects NHL ticket sales.

“A hockey team might not track the weather, but a baseball team does that pretty well,” Adams said. “But for a hockey team, weather may actually have an impact on their walk up [ticket sales].”

When it comes to pricing, Adams says his service basically costs an owner what it might cost to hire that entry level number cruncher.

“These are expensive business operations, but the franchises spend their money on the things that the public sees,” Adams said. “That’s where these teams spend their money. On the back end business operations they don’t spend a lot of money there, so it’s all about making them affordable.”

Adams, 36, says the idea for Sports Business Intelligence was born out of a dashboard he’d created for an NBA team as part of a class project at Wharton. Adams had connected with then Eagles’ marketing manager Joe Dupriest while working on a different project. When Adams pitched Dupriest on the idea for SBI, he says Dupriest was interested.

Dupriest is now chief marketing officer for the Washington Capitals. Adams says Dupriest has helped him make important connections in the industry. Adams incorporated SBI in 2010, but when he was ready to launch the product in 2011, the Capitals tested his beta version.

Adams has also had significant help from the Philly tech community.

SBI is a portfolio company of the Philadelphia Development Group. In addition to office space in Center City, Philadev has helped connect SBI to Center City business analytics provider RJ Metrics, which has provided Adams with the technical resources for the dashboard, and provided mentorship and guidance, Adams told Technically Philly.

Philadev also has a small percentage stake in SBI, says Adams, who is otherwise bootstrapping the company.

Adams says he connected with Philadev at a Philly Startup Leaders happy hour when he returned to Philly, after working for Cadone Industries’ European branch in Belgium.

“Chris [Myers] was the first person that I met at the first PSL happy hour that I attended,” Adams said.

Despite SBI’s Philly roots, Adams has yet to sign any Philly sports teams. That’s a goal he’s reaching for.

“I have had some very positive meetings with some Philly sports teams, but we have yet to come to any working relationship yet,” Adams said. “But I am very hopeful that something will happen soon.

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Yael Borofsky was the lead reporter for Technically Philly from from December 2011 to June 2012 before leaving to pursue an urban studies graduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previously she was an editor with the Breakthrough Journal in San Francisco. She loves hockey and coffee.

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