Head Coach Quin Snyder of Team LeBron coaches during the 70th NBA All Star Game as part of 2021 NBA All Star Weekend on March 7, 2021 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jesse D. Garrabrant | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
Luceo Sports, a software company that digitizes and animates sports playbooks, is seeking investors to expand operations. The company is based in Arizona and already has agreements with pro basketball clubs that use the product.
In an interview with CNBC, Andy Graham, founder and CEO of Luceo, said he’s seeking approximately $5 million to invest in sales and marketing. Luceo’s software allows teams to insert their playbooks and terminology and then transforms drawings into motion graphics.
“It makes it into a play-animation, so you get that sequence and timing instead of just a picture,” Graham said.
He added Luceo could help younger athletes learn playbooks faster, and teams can also distribute them to newly acquired players. So, for example, if a National Basketball Association team makes a mid-season trade, a team that uses Luceo can quickly create a login and give the player access to digital playbooks.
“We are focused on the teaching aspect of the game,” Graham said. “And we’re remembering that coaches are teachers and trying to give them good education tech so they can create explanations to reach today’s digital learners.”
The Rosetta Stone of sports
Graham, 37, launched Luceo in 2016 after spending time with data analytics firm Synergy Sports and software company FastModel, which also makes money via digitizing pro playbooks. He departed FastModel in 2014 after identifying a void in the market.
“I realized how much tech had advanced in those years (working at FastModel), and I wanted to be a part of all that,” Graham said. “Ed-tech, that is a market that has exploded over the last couple of decades, and sports at all levels is just a learning and development activity.”
Luceo is a software as a service business, and the company makes money from fees associated with subscriptions, add-on services and transaction fees. Subscriptions run as low as $2 per month for users, while the top-tier professional package is $15 per month. The program has an app, but signups are only available via its website to avoid the fees Apple takes from digital subscriptions.
Asked about subscribers, Graham declined to reveal specifics but added roughly 150,000 people are in the company’s “ecosystem.” Hence, people that are aware of and have access to Luceo. The company has agreements with 11 NBA clubs, including the top-seeded Utah Jazz and three college teams.
Graham did not divulge revenue, either. He said pro clubs usually sign yearly deals, adding Luceo is targeting everyday consumers with subscription prices. The plan is to lure Generation Z users (ages 6 to 24) and their parents as this demographic grows up in a more digitized learning environment. One of the features Graham highlighted is a decision-making-type game within the program. The activity allows athletes to practice what to do in critical game situations based on a team’s playbook.
Graham called Luceo the Rosetta Stone — a popular language learning software — of sports.
“The most comprehensive digital learning platform for sports,” he said. “The more kids that feel like they understand the sport, or that fans understand it, or parents, the more likely they are to engagement more heavily.”
Targeting the NFL
While at Synergy, Graham said he enhanced his product design and business development skillset, adding the learnings are “foundational to what I’m thinking about now.” The teachings will be essential for Luceo, as competition is fierce. According to Grand View Research, the ed-tech market is forecasted to reach $377 billion by 2028. And again, FastModel is a competitor and already used by plenty of basketball scouts.
The National Football League could help with Luceo’s future growth. Luceo is positioning itself to target pro football clubs with its software and currently working on digitized and animated football playbooks. Graham said he’ll start small, though, pursuing high schools and college programs first.
Andrew Graham, Luceo Sports
Source: Luceo Sports
“That’s where we’re going,” Graham said of eventually chasing NFL business.
Luceo is gaining traction in sports and has been featured on NBATV. Sacramento Kings assistant head coach Alvin Gentry is also a supporter of the software. But to take the next step, Graham will need to convince investors of Luceo’s potential. It won’t be easy, but Graham says it’s part of the “fun challenge” of operating a business.
When challenged to provide a quick pitch about Luceo, Graham said: “I already built a business that teams in the NBA and NCAA are using twice over. (Luceo) started small and has grown over the last five years to this point,” he added. “But I’ve got confidence in what the market needs. I know how this business works.”