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This paid piece is sponsored by Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.
Even a great product won’t sell unless people know about it.
That’s why Bravo Youth Sports LLC owner Scott Perkins points to increased awareness as one of the biggest reasons behind the year-over-year growth of his company, which produces compact, portable scoreboards intended for youth athletic events.
The catalyst for getting his name out was the 2017 Zeal accelerator program. The 12-week experience connected him with the Sioux Falls area business community in ways that are paying off.
“It was important for community exposure and meeting people and the networking side of things,” said Perkins, who acquired Bravo in 2016 after learning about it at a trade show.
“On the business side, they helped me sculpt my vision going forward. Ryan Oines and Thad Giedd at Zeal did a good job working with me on my presentation to potential investors, so if that’s a road I want to go down I can at some point. They helped me put things on paper and make it logical. When you’re growing your business, you can be pulled in many different directions, and they helped me focus.”
That focus has led to a solid year for Bravo, with new customers including the Sanford Fieldhouse, which uses the boards for indoor soccer, flag football and other events. Watertown’s parks and recreation department is using them for indoor basketball and indoor and outdoor soccer. A large sporting complex in Indiana just bought a Bravo board, as did a soccer academy in the United Kingdom.
“We presented to the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., and there’s pretty good potential there,” Perkins said. “That could be huge for us. It’s the largest amateur sports center in the world, so there could be some neat things happening.”
Bravo’s 40-inch-by-27-inch scoreboard is portable, lightweight and controlled through an app. It allows small sports teams to display their scores along with customized ads. Each board costs $1,995, but customers find advertising more than offsets it, Perkins said.
Other businesses are finding new uses for it, he added.
“We’re finding more and more clients using it as a portable digital message board plus a scoreboard,” he said. “We have a client that’s a bar that uses it for advertising, and it’s a portable board you can move, take to trade shows and change advertising on it. So it’s a pretty low cost for businesses.”
Perkins is keeping his connection with Zeal, too. He’s become a co-working member, which gives him access to office space, a conference room, and all Zeal’s resources and events. He recently held his Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting there.
“I like to use Zeal for meetings and to get away from my home office and clear my head,” he said. “Our goal going forward is to get as many Bravo boards out as possible and then go down the next path of expanded product development.”
Bravo isn’t the only 2017 accelerator participant maintaining a relationship with Zeal. Well365 is taking advantage of Zeal’s incubator services, and Jobiki’s founder works with another Zeal client part time while continuing to build his business.
“It’s great to see all of them continue to define their entrepreneurial journey, and we’re excited to stay connected with them as much as possible,” Giedd said. “The program is a great way to scale startup businesses like these, and we encourage other entrepreneurs to investigate all of Zeal’s services, not just the annual accelerator.”
One year after the company completed the Zeal accelerator, we checked with Bravo Youth Sports to see how they have been growing.