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Featured Founder: Matt Morrison of Openly

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Matt Morrison, Founder and CEO of Openly, which is a repository of information, reviews, and discussions about jobs for professionals who work in sports.

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?

Most of my career is in the Workforce Solutions/Talent Acquisition space and for the last 2 years, I was at EY in a Markets & Business Development role. Before EY, I worked for a Marketing & Branding firm representing Professional Athletes. When I was looking to figure out what was next for me, I had a really hard time learning about organizations in sports beyond a very basic job description. I wanted to know about the culture, work-life balance, benefits & perks, and growth opportunities. Glassdoor was of no help and basically only had job reviews for sports teams from concession workers, parking lot attendants, and tour guides. Now more than ever, people want to know if the values of an organization align with theirs and we felt the sports industry was behind in this category. In addition to bringing more transparency to this industry, we saw a drastic shift in the talent market within the sports/sports tech space. These new "modern professionals" working in sports have skill sets that are relatively new to the industry and unfortunately, the one big job board in this space hasn't kept up with the times.

What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?

We are bringing greater transparency to careers in sports while offering the highest quality jobs that are available in this space. We are taking some of the best talent acquisition practices we've learned from the tech and healthcare industry and giving the sports industry a much-needed facelift. Our goal is to help every single person currently working in sports or who wants to work in this industry by providing information & opportunities that will be useful throughout their entire career. With our marketplace concept, it's not just the people working in sports we want to help. We've built a platform where organizations in sports can tell their story and engage with their current and future workforce. A career in sports today looks very different than it did less than 10 years ago. The massive boom in the sports tech, sports media, gambling, and eSports space has given individuals more career options outside of just professional teams and college athletics. We are excited to get these companies and new-age jobs in front of our talent pool.

Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?

Our founding team doesn't come from an extremely technical background, so we weren't sure how we were going to build an MVP and ultimately launch our platform. However, with the rise in popularity of "No Code" tools, we spent the beginning part of 2020 learning how we could use these tools to build our solution.  Ultimately, we built and launched by using a variety of these no-code tools which allowed us to be in control of the product and saved us significant time and money.

Where do you see your company headed next?

We will be launching the "2.0" version of our platform that will allow more integration between our job reviews and the talent marketplace. We have also developed some really innovative processes around D&I that we are excited to release to our customers in the near future.  With our goal of being a one-stop-shop of information around a career in sports, we will be launching more content verticals and resources for all stages in someone's career journey.

Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founder just starting out.

Be resourceful. If we didn't explore no-code tools this would still be an idea on a deck. There are so many tools and resources available to founders that I never knew existed. I was fortunate enough to go through the OnDeck Founders cohort and not only met some amazing people, was exposed to an entirely new community that gave me the insight and confidence to build this ourselves.
Embarc Collective
Embarc Collective helps Tampa Bay’s startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies. Our staff of executive advisors and function-specific experts deliver individualized support to startups inside of Embarc Collective’s state-of-the-art 32,000 square foot hub.