We talked to Asaf Nevo of Pico on how to help sports teams identify their fans across all digital channels through progressively gathering data and leveraging it to create targeted campaigns and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Asaf Nevo: We’re doing, you know, I think we are all trying to navigate these times with as much positivity as we and anybody can. I will say that we are excited to ring in the new year and welcome 2021. Thanks for the question. I hope all is well with you and your family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pico.
Asaf Nevo: I think it’s safe to say that I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. From my required military service to my University studies- I’ve ever tried to find ways to innovate general, day-to-day situations, circumstances, etc.
The founding of Pico is one of my favorites. Along with another co-founder, Roi Mozer, I successfully operated and ran a famous night-life company in downtown Haifa. Right down the street from where Pico HQ is now. We would continuously try to find fun, exciting ways to bring technology practices into the night-life space. We even tested a machine that allowed our guests to order their drinks that got rid of the long queues often found in crowded bars, restaurants, etc.
So after a few years of fun there, we decided we wanted to go full-time into our side project, spoiler alert, it turned out to be Pico. We left our positions, sold our shares, and dove right in. And initially, Pico – Get Personal used to be Pico.buzz and was started as a photo-sharing platform after we noticed that after popular events, such as weddings or birthdays, there was no easy way to share photos with all of the attendees. Mind you- this was before Snapchat, Instagram, and Instagram stories.
At the time, the whole idea was to create a way for people, brands, and organizations to share photos quickly and for brands to have one dedicated place for user-generated content. That was our pitch anyway.
We eventually pivoted the company to where we are now – a data-driven fan marketing platform powered by AI. Our third co-founder Aviv Paz, joined us as we started to develop, test, and launch the product. We’ve been in the market with a working product since 2017 and have over 50+ teams and leagues as partners. It has been a fair process and experience as we have seen growth within the company and our winning team.
How does Pico innovate?
Asaf Nevo: Pico innovates through monetizing the social engagement. We always say that engagement isn’t a problem for our clients. We see great engagement rates across the board when we look at sports and the industry in general, as sports fans are very engaged by nature. They like to be in the know. They want to communicate with their teams digitally. The problem is that teams, leagues, and any organization with a large following, don’t know who they are engaging. All of the likes, comments, and shares come from profiles made anonymous to the team. We found a way to turn those hundreds of thousands of likes, comments, and shares into accurate user profiles in a way that benefits both fan, team, and organization through our digital activations and data-capture technology.
Once a team can identify their digital fans, they can take the relationship to the next level. The relationships become more personal. The messaging becomes more specific to each fan. They can begin to cross-reference their digital fans to those that they already have living within their database. With each new data point, the organization can curate content specific to a fans’ likes and personal preferences.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Asaf Nevo: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen quite a bit of growth. And it isn’t lost on us how fortunate we are to see both changes on the client-side and the funding side during such an unprecedented time.
Teams traditionally relied on transactional data from their fans – ticket purchases, merch sales, email sign-ups, etc. – and when COVID hit, the data streams they were so reliant on suddenly stopped. Months and even years prior, we said that to maintain sustainability within, teams can’t solely rely on the in-game fan experience and need to understand and know their digital fan base – the fans found on social media, apps, forums, websites, and more. And to know them, they need to own the data on them.
The pandemic focused on the importance of knowing one’s digital fans, and the demand for our solution increased.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Asaf Nevo: I think that anyone leading or launching any company, service, what have you, has faced challenges that required difficult decisions. So I tend to find comfort in the experience we all have and share.
During the Dream It accelerator program, we took part in meant three months away from my family. Meaning my wife, aka the hero, was left to care for our young children while our team of co-founders created and developed Pico in the United States. More often than not, we have to make the difficult decision of choosing where to spend our time and efforts for the company’s sake, so I feel lucky to have the support system I do back home.
However, like all lessons, there was a significant takeaway here where I saw and understood that the time needs to divide time between business and family. To share processes, even small ones that don’t feel significant, with the family. To see and understand what’s going on, we’re going through at the company. And I’ve learned that they enjoy it- they want to hear what dad is working on, what clients Pico signed yesterday, a cool activation we launched.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Asaf Nevo: As said in the previous question, I feel fortunate to have the team I have, both from a familial standpoint and from a work standpoint. There’s a lot of support from both ends, which is crucial when leading any venture and dealing with the stress that can come from it. I also believe the transparency and honesty we have at Pico helps the entire company see and believe in the vision and helps us get there.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Asaf Nevo: We stay in the game through our game-changing technology that outperforms typical industry KPIs. That drives our partners’ real business outcomes for our partners by creating new revenue streams and personalized fan experiences and demonstrates the importance of data when it comes to fan marketing.
Your final thoughts?
Asaf Nevo: I’ll leave you with some food for thought and something I believe in – don’t be afraid of failure. And if you do fail, go out and fail again and try to learn from the failures. Learn from the mistakes, the feedback, and use it to your advantage when you go back and try again. It is the essential muscle needed to succeed and experience growth.
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