Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are an extremely popular way for people to connect whether for social reasons or for networking. Makeitpro.com is in the vein of popular social networking sites, but it has much different uses than it’s mainstream cousins.
“MakeItPro is the only all-sport destination, marketplace and sports resource center that is totally interactive and accessible anywhere in the world, online and on mobile phones,” said CEO Jill Osur about this important resource that aims to unite the world’s top professional athletes with all levels of experts, coaches, parents, teams, and fans. Osur hopes that sports enthusiasts and athletes will use their resources to “socialize, participate, learn, and excel.”
The site has the support of some of the biggest names in sports, including NBA All-star and two-time league MVP Steve Nash, Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, Oakland A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney, Minnesota Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian, San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey, and many others.
“Makeitpro’s customizable one-stop sports experience features the tips, scores, action and expert resources that’ll let everyone have fun and where passionate athletes and fans gather to interact and celebrate their love of sport, learn from the pros, achieve peak performance, showcase their talent and aspire to be the best they can be.”
I recently had a chance to chat with Osur and Chief Strategy Officer Greg Wilfahrt about the site, parenting, and what they hope to accomplish.
Jill Osur, CEO, president and co-founder:
TFL:Why sports? What is your history in sports?
JILL OSUR: Sports unite the world like nothing else can. The passion surrounding sports is infectious and we knew that if we could build a true sports “destination,” that we could bring that passion into MakeItPro and build a new global sports community. I am a former collegiate softball player at the University of California, Berkeley (Cal), and my twin sister played basketball at Cal. My whole life has revolved around my passion and participation in sports, and the incredible lessons, both on and off the field, that sports has taught me. Sports have the ability to teach youth invaluable skills that will benefit them in sport, but even more importantly, in life. Using sports, we are able to provide an amazing platform to unite the world’s top professional athletes and athletes of all ages with experts, coaches, parents, teams and fans from all over the world – helping them to socialize, participate, learn and excel in over 175 different sports.
TFL:Are you a parent with children playing sports?
OSUR: I have three children, ages 12, 14, and 16 who all play different competitive sports. Sports have been a part of our family life as far back as I can remember, and something that unites us as a family. My children have learned real life skills through sports. They’ve learned to win, to lose graciously, to respect others, and the discipline required to be the best they can be, along with the joy and camaraderie that comes along with participating in team sports.
TFL: How do you juggle work and family time?
OSUR: As a CEO and a mom, there’s no question that juggling work and family time is challenging. I have always preached to my children to do what you love, and the rewards with come. I left the for profit world when my children were very young to help start up Special Olympics in Northern California and Nevada. While I knew my hours would be long, I brought my children to many fundraising events, competitions, and trainings so that they could see that my work was making a difference, open their eyes up to individuals with developmental disabilities, and to teach them how important it is to give back. All of the outings created opportunities to spend some great quality time with my children. The same applies at MakeItPro. My hours are very long as we are in start-up mode, but my children bring dinner to my office so we can eat together, and often do their homework while I’m doing my work. I have an extremely supportive husband who believes in what I’m doing and has taken on many of the day-to-day chores around the house along with transporting the kids between school and practices.
TFL: How long has this site been in existence?
OSUR: The site launched at the end of July (July 27, 2009) after being in development for 15 months.
TFL: How did it get started?
OSUR: Sport is the universal glue the binds people from around the world and is a language everyone understands. Our founders are all parents of children who participate sports. As parents, former athletes, and all-around sports lovers, we thought it was time to develop a safe, healthy, educational, fun and socially interactive destination for everyone – available anytime and anywhere – online and on your mobile phone.
TFL: What do you hope to accomplish with these resources?
OSUR: Our plan is to be the one-stop shop and ultimate destination for anyone that touches sports. Our technology allows us to customize the users experience so that you can get what you want, when you want it, both online and on the mobile phone. We hope to be the genie in the lamp, where whatever your sports desire is will be our command. Coaches can manage their events and team schedules, parents can visit our Training Zone and find the best in nutrition, peak performance, sports medicine, sports psychology, life coaching and youth empowerment. MakeItPro’s Sport Zones provide everything users need in their sport, from the latest articles, videos, product reviews, tournament information, showcase tournaments, recruiting information, instructional DVDs, workout plans, camp information and much more, so that you get everything you need on MakeItPro.
TFL: How did you get so many world-class athletes to be involved and what is their level of involvement?
OSUR: Our world-class athletes immediately saw the opportunity to be involved with the first all sports site that was dedicated to showcasing the best in sport and are all proud to represent their sports and mentor youth around the world. We did many focus groups and our users told us to find the best athletes, but to also find the best in all sports, not just the traditional sports. They felt many existing sites were limited by only having a few sports, and our focus groups said that if you only have a few sports, you are ensuring that I won’t be on the site a lot, as many of my friends play multiple sports, both traditional and action sports.
We have secured great world-class athletes like NBA great Steve Nash, Olympics and X Games snowboarder Gretchn Bleiler, Olympic Softball player Jessican Mendoza, Oakland A’s star Ryan Sweeney, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian, Olympic BMX and Mountain Bike rider, Jill Kintner, X Games Skateboard Lauren Perkins, 5 Time World Champion Paintball Pro Johnny Perchak, 2010 Olympic Bobsled athlete Chuck Berkeley, Olympic Gold Medalist rower Erin Cafaro, and many more.
Our athletes upload content that represents their athletic achievements, lifestyle and their charitable efforts. Users can ask our athletes questions, learn from great instructional content and truly be connected to the athletes they admire. Our mobile feature allows users to be a part of mobile fan clubs, chat rooms, and to receive exclusive content both online and delivered to their mobile phone. We are committed today, and in the future, to only having this caliber of athlete represented on MakeItPro.
TFL: What is the future of MakeitPro.com?
OSUR: The future of MakeItPro is exciting. MakeItPro will connect athletes all over the world and millions of youth will use our site and tools provided to be the best they can be. With our proprietary mobile platform and our global reach, MakeItPro will be the site that allows anyone who touches sport to get what they want, when they want it, both online and on the mobile phone. You will begin to see collegiate teams on MakeItPro as we are the first safe, healthy, educational and philanthropic site that is appropriate for college sports. Fans will finally be able to interact with college athletes and sports on an interactive platform. As a destination site, MakeItPro is committed to listening to our community and adding features that will increase engagement. We have many exciting features coming soon, like music, fantasy gaming, games and many other exciting tools to ensure our success and that we are that one-stop shop for anyone who touches sport. We will open offices around the world as our community expands and our team is committed to making this happen. As we say daily, make it happen…MakeItPro!
Greg Wilfahrt Chief Strategy Officer
TFL: As a father, how do you plan on utilizing MakeItPro?
Wilfahrt: The best way to answer this question is to say that I plan on using MakeItPro in ways that I can’t elsewhere. MakeItPro was born out of several frustrations. As a sports enthusiast and athlete it is disappointing that I have to navigate so many sites to find what I need. As a father of three, it was impossible before MakeItPro to share the passion I have for sports with my children in an online environment because of the inappropriate content and ads. I’ll go to MakeItPro knowing that it is family-friendly and that I can enjoy sports with my kids without having to jump to different sites. And because we’re an active family, I know that I can access MakeItPro from my phone for the anywhere, anytime access to what we want when we’re not in-front of a computer.
How will you use the site to get your children more interested in sports?
There’s something magical about having a professional athlete reach out and communicate in a positively-charged environment with you– and with your children. An encouraging word from Dad is good, but a kind word from Steve Nash or Gretchen Bleiler is something that they will talk about to friends in school. There’s a confidence we see building in our kids as a result of giving them the “green light” to navigate around MakeItPro, when we don’t allow them to do that on other sites. Our children are finding what interests them and they are engaged. Any parent knows what a treat that is.
TFL: Will you use the site to make sure your kids are active and healthy? How?
Wilfahrt: If I could assemble the “best of the best” experts to teach my kids all of the things that will help them reach their greatest potential, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Maybe MakeItPro is a magical place, because this where we as a family can go to get the best advice from experts in just about any discipline, everything from nutrition and sports psychology, to online etiquette and how to do a proper push-up. I know that surrounding myself and my family with like-minded people from around the world makes fitness cool. It makes it fun. And it means that I don’t always need to be the guy that’s encouraging them to reach for the stars. They can find that encouragement from a top pro athlete, or from someone in another country because it’s “sports” that is the glue bringing us all together as an extended family.
TFL: As an active dad, how will you use MakeItPro?
Wilfahrt: I’m stoked there’s finally a one-stop sports destination that moves as quickly as I do, one that has everything I need, whether I’m online or on my mobile phone. I’ll use MakeItPro to get scores and highlights, but I’ll also use it to keep my family and friends updated with pictures and commentary, no matter where I am. When my son hits his next home run or my daughter scores her next goal, Nana and Grandpa will be celebrating with us as I send those memories in seconds. And if I have a question about hitting a curve ball or about what the heck a corner kick is, I know that MakeItPro will be there for the assist.
Stay Tuned next week for an interview with Makeitpro contributor and Oakland A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney.