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This piece is presented by the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship.
Scott Perkins always wanted to be a small-business owner. All it took was the decision to make Bravo Youth Sports LLC, a company that makes full-functioning LED message boards, his full-time job.
“I love the idea of being able to help kids and businesses do something a little bit more creative and different than what they’re normally doing,” Perkins said. “I loved it enough to go ‘all right Scott, look internally and go for it.’ ”
Bravo Youth Sports is one of four Sioux Falls businesses that are participating in the Zeal Growth Accelerator. The program provides guidance and assistance to local entrepreneurs through summer workshops before each business makes a pitch to investors in September.
The Bravo Board already is being used by sports teams and is being sold at bravoyouthsports.com. Perkins is looking forward to working on his promotional approach this summer as he tries to get the word out about his product.
“It’s more the marketing, getting the Bravo game out and creating a solid reputation for the product and the concept,” he said
The Bravo Board allows small sports teams to keep track of the score while also displaying customized ads from sponsors. With a 40-inch-by-27-inch screen, it’s portable, lightweight and is controlled through an app.
Perkins was introduced to the concept of the board at a trade show in Chicago. He loved the idea so much that he considered working with the owner to sell the product in South Dakota. But after conversations spanning roughly three years, Perkins had the opportunity to buy the company. In October 2016, he “acquired all of the products, the knowledge and the intellectual property that went along with it.”
The Bravo Board isn’t meant to compete with bigger arena boards. Instead, it helps smaller youth sports — from soccer to baseball and football teams — have an efficient way to keep track of the game and provide sponsors with a place to advertise.
Having the ability to do both, while also being easy to use, is why Perkins calls it a value-added product.
One Bravo Board costs $1,995. But by using it for advertising, it can end up paying for itself, he said.
“So say for $200 a sports organization can sponsor an ad all weekend to offset the cost of one of the boards and generate revenue for the club,” Perkins said.
Or a business could buy the Bravo Board and donate it to a club, then exclusively advertise.
Perkins also makes the ads himself. Once a team knows what messages it wants to display, Perkins creates them from his computer and then uploads them to the board through the app.
With the business model of the Bravo Board developed, “the hardiest part is the outreach — getting it out there by knocking on doors, visiting towns and teams, and just driving the business to the website,” Perkins said. “It’s helping people to realize that this option now exists.”
Bravo Youth Sports, part of the Zeal Growth Accelerator, makes scoreboards designed for youth teams. Here’s how the company hopes to grow.