Efe Aydın, founder of Scoutium tells us about talent discovery techniques.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Efe Aydın: Thank you for your kind questions. As we all know, we are in a unique situation. Fortunately, I didn’t have any loss or severe infection process in my network. We are working for our safety prevention and we continue to work from home for the last year. I hope you are doing well in this hard process as well.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Scoutium.
Efe Aydın: As Efe Aydın, Emre Ün, and Safa Yerliyurt, we have founded Scoutium in 2017 in order to identify talented football players who are left in the dark and to bring these players to top-level football. The starting point of the idea is a complete coincidence. While Emre, Safa, and I were thinking about many different ideas, we learned that one of our friends, who was a sports attorney, was suggesting football players to a prominent Turkish club. After learning that, we figured that football fans could suggest players to clubs too. Then, together with what we learned about the industry, our idea evolved into what it is today. As three young entrepreneurs from Bursa, we participated in various entrepreneurship competitions with this idea, and then we started to work in Teknokent by getting the title of core venture at Istanbul Technical University. Our main goal was to do what we love with the people we love and I think we achieved this goal to a great extent. We currently have a main team of 25 people that we work with pleasure. We are a family of more than 300 people, together with our video experts and scouts who support the growth of our business.
How does Scoutium innovate?
Efe Aydın: There are 45 million players under the age of 18 who play in amateur leagues in the world and out of those 45 million players, there is no recorded data and 90-minute videos of about 44.9 million of them. Following footballers with traditional methods costs clubs a lot of money and time. Clubs and federations find it difficult to discover talent, and football players find it difficult to be discovered. Users who log into Scoutium for free as football fans can shoot 90 minutes of the matches as video experts and qualify for scouts by passing through qualifiers and training. Thus, they created a unique data pool with 90-minute videos and analyzed football players. As Scoutium, with more than 150 video experts and more than 170 scouts, we offer clubs and players data which is especially hard to achieve for the lower leagues and lower age groups in Turkey’s 81 provinces that are very difficult to reach. While the clubs discover the most suitable players by examining the 90-minute match videos and player analysis from the system, the football players are provided with the opportunity to improve their deficiencies by examining their own match videos and analysis. In addition to all these, football players are one step closer to being discovered by receiving notifications when they are watched by clubs. With Scoutium’s unique business model, clubs and football players come together under one roof.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Efe Aydın: Covid-19 outbreak has deeply affected football like all other industries. The football economy has suffered a great deal during this period, but I predict that it will reach its former size quickly. This process has accelerated the digital adaptation of the masses. The increase in online usage habits of the masses will positively affect our branch. That’s why I expect many technology companies to emerge stronger from this process. This periodic shrinkage further increased the importance clubs attach to infrastructures. I think the processes of discovering football players will shift to digital more. The biggest negativity of the process on startups was that it slowed down the growth curve. Since startups are structures that are rapidly funded, growing with this funding, and re-funded with this growth, they had to shrink financially when growth slowed down, but they will exit this period stronger with the technological transformation effect brought about by the process.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Efe Aydın: At first, we founded a team from friends and our close network. But at one point, we needed to expand a People team inside and Recruitment became one of the biggest challenges. Still today, we make so much effort for recruitment, because our team is our most valuable asset. At first, we were reaching our close network, but now we have professionals in the team using many ways and tools.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Efe Aydın: Our B2B customers relationship is managed by our account managers for our B2B clients as football clubs & federations. We manage the customer relationship process for our B2C customers by email and all reviews from AppStore & Google Play, social media channels. We focus on our customers in 24 hours from digital channels which I mentioned.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Efe Aydın: As we have started our journey in İTÜ (Istanbul Technical University) Çekirdek, İTÜ ARI Teknokent (Technology Zone & Start-Up Accelerator in Universities) became our first investor. We have become an official Teknokent company in 2018 and as a Teknokent company, we benefit from Teknokent’s tax advantages since our beginning. Moreover, in the first 3 years of our company, the Ministry of Commerce treated us as an “incubation company” and we have paid much lower rent for the office.
Your final thoughts?
Efe Aydın: Of course, we always want to see our young and dynamic friends who want to join our team under the Scoutium roof. Our team is constantly growing and we continue to look for talented colleagues at this point. We care a lot about diversity so they can apply to work with us from all around the world by seeing our open positions on careers.scoutium.com.
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