Bond Sports
Why We Invested

Bond Sports

Bond Sports created a software platform that helps sports and wellness facilities owners manage operations, scheduling, members, events and more. Its solution enables customers to generate revenue and manage administrative operations from a single platform.

Bond Sports is a great fit for the Rally Ventures SaaS+ Playbook, and we plan to work closely with the team to optimize payments, insurance, background screening and other integrated products as they rapidly scale up their business.

Rally Ventures
December 11, 2023

Bond Sports created a software platform that helps sports and wellness facilities owners manage operations, scheduling, members, events and more. Its solution enables customers to generate revenue and manage administrative operations from a single platform.

Bond Sports is a great fit for the Rally Ventures SaaS+ Playbook, and we plan to work closely with the team to optimize payments, insurance, background screening and other integrated products as they rapidly scale up their business.

Rally Ventures led Bond Sports’ $8M seed funding round, with participation from Correlation Ventures. Rally Managing Director Justin Kaufenberg recently caught up with co-founder and CEO Matt Minoff and co-founder Marc Rothschild. Below are edited excerpts from their conversation.

Welcome to the portfolio, Bond Sports!

Justin Kaufenberg, Managing Director of Rally Ventures: Why did you start Bond Sports?

Matt Minoff, Co-Founder and CEO of Bond Sports: I started Bond because I’m an athlete myself, and I’ve spent many years in and around sports facilities. Plus, my two sons have participated in all types of leagues and tournaments. As a customer and administrator, I’ve experienced firsthand the pain points around youth sports and adult recreational activities. 

In talking to people who own sports facilities, I learned there was a real lack of technology available to run their businesses. Many of them were piecing together 4 or 5 different point solutions, which was frustrating for both staff and customers. Most of these conversations concluded with them asking how quickly we could build a product they could use!

Justin: Marc, one thing I’ve observed — from both my SportsEngine and Rally perspectives — is that facility management software has lagged technology-wise, where the rest of the sports industry technology has seen some innovation. Why do you think this is the case?

Marc Rothschild, Co-Founder of Bond Sports: This is primarily because so many sports facilities have historically been mom and pop shops that were used to doing things with pen and paper. But it got to the point where their businesses became more sophisticated, and the old way of doing things was hindering growth. It’s been an industry that’s slow to adapt. 

The other reason is that, until recently, a lot of owners thought of themselves more as landlords than business operators. They had a few tenants who would rent out their facility and pay the fee. As time went on, they realized the real profit is in running their own programming: leagues, tournaments, etc. New software and solutions are needed to effectively run those aspects of the business, and that realization has been a big catalyst for change.

Justin: I agree with that. We also view this industry as a changing landscape. For a long time at SportsEngine (Justin is the co-founder and former CEO of SportsEngine), we decided not to pursue facilities because we didn’t feel like the space was ready for change. Recently, with facilities owners increasingly adopting proprietary programming, we’ve come to see this space as one with a huge volume of latent payments. 

The timing is right. Owners of sports facilities are becoming operators and building proprietary programming, and the SaaS+ opportunity, specifically in payments, has emerged. Bond Sports is building the best next-generation sports platform, and it’s been a long time coming. 

Matt, as you got this company going, what were some of the big, early challenges you faced?

Matt: The biggest challenge we initially faced was the amount of software we needed to build in order to support the foundational use cases of our customers. We didn’t fully appreciate how many different ways there are to run leagues, clubs, camps, classes and tournaments. 

We had to figure out how to support the majority of our customer’s needs without driving ourselves crazy trying to support every edge case. This is an ongoing challenge and something we continue to deal with as we onboard new customers. Finding that balance is difficult. 

Justin: There is a misconception that vertical software is lightweight, which I totally disagree with. You have to solve 80% of your customers’ needs, otherwise your software solution won’t be adopted. You don’t have to solve 100% of your customers’ needs, but if your solution doesn’t allow people to run their business, you just won’t gain adoption.

We see the facilities industry the same way. You have to build an architecturally sound platform with a critical mass of capability that allows people to move their business over. Once you’ve become the platform of record and earned people’s trust, you can start adding SaaS+ enablements like embedded payments and background screening. 

Marc: You guys have real momentum, but, like in any startup, there will be continued challenges. What are the biggest challenges you’ll face as you continue to grow?

Marc: What’s made us successful so far is that we really listen to our customers. Having continual conversations helps us understand what’s important for the masses vs what’s a one-off solution that might not be worth implementing. This has been instrumental in our process. And there’s never a finish line, you’re always navigating right and left to determine what to build next to keep customers happy.

We just onboarded Black Bear Sports Group, the largest owner of ice rinks in the US, as an anchor tenant. Our goal is to continue onboarding similar clients and customers. We want to be the default solution for the consolidators and the enterprise clients in the marketplace.

Justin: It’s obvious the Bond Sports platform was built by people who deeply understand how facilities operators run their business. Customers want a robust platform built by people who are constantly innovating, which doesn’t always happen in vertical software. If you choose a partner who embraces a culture of innovation, you know the product will just get better and better. We see that culture at Bond Sports, which is one of the many reasons we were attracted to this investment. 

Matt: That is absolutely true. One of the biggest frustrations I hear from new customers is that they’ve been asking legacy providers for updates and upgrades for 5+ years, but nothing ever changes. We aim to provide great software and strong support to our customers. We care about their business and want to see them succeed and grow.

Justin: Matt, as you look forward 10 years, what’s your big vision?

Matt: Our long term vision is to be the operating system that manages your recreational life. This sounds like a consumer proposition, but that only happens if we’ve been successful serving our B2B customers. Ultimately, we have a B2B2C business model. In the future, when I go to sign my son up for his basketball camp, I want the administrator powering facility and program to be Bond Sports. We want to be so ubiquitous that we have brand recognition with the end consumer, which drives additional B2B activity.

Justin: We’re big fans of that vision at Rally. The B2B relationship results in the B2C marketplace. That was certainly what occurred at SportsEngine. We first had to land tens of thousands of B2B customers. Once they were customers and partners, we could publish a B2C marketplace on the backend, which was rich in content and data and became the go-to resource for youth athletic participation. Bond Sports is in the driver’s seat to execute that vision from a facilities angle.

Switching gears. You’ve both been entrepreneurs before. And as entrepreneurs, we are constantly learning, growing and developing scar tissue. Marc, what is the single biggest lesson you’ve learned and how are you applying this to your role at Bond?

Marc: It is critically important to surround yourself with great people. Matt and I have been partners for a long time, and we share this perspective. Surround yourself with people who compliment you, share your passion and truly care about the mission. 

Listening to your customers and treating them like partners in your business is also important. 

It’s extraordinarily challenging to start a company, and it’s important to have people invested in your success across the board. 

The last thing is resilience. You have to be prepared to get knocked down multiple times, learn from it, pick yourself back up and find a way to keep going. The people we work with show up when things go badly, internalize feedback and lessons learned, make it better and move forward.

Justin: Matt, same question to you.

Matt: The biggest thing you control as an entrepreneur is who you allow into your company. Who you hire and who you retain drives the culture of your company, especially for the first 20-50 hires. That is always a unique challenge finding those people, bringing them in and keeping them aligned.

I agree with Marc on resilience and the willingness to never give up no matter what happens. In three years we’ve been through a lot, and one of the big things we have going for us is that we’re going to get up every day and make progress. Managing your own psychology as an entrepreneur is key. Many days you get great news in the morning and terrible news in the afternoon. That’s just life as an entrepreneur. You have to be ready for it and willing to go through the ups and downs. 

Justin: Last question: what have you read lately that’s stuck with you?

Marc: There are a few books I’ve read more than once that have really resonated with me. The first is Mindset by Carol Dweck. This has been helpful both professionally and personally, especially with my parenting style. The second is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. This one talks about the rationale behind why we make poor decisions.

Lastly, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell resonated with me because it included examples from several companies where I previously worked. I was also frequently traveling to Korea while reading it, and there is a chapter about how Korean Air switched their pilot language to English after a preventable plane crash. There are a number of reasons why this decision was made, and it’s a very real example of the importance of effective communication across cultural barriers.    

Matt: I recently read a book called Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. There are a lot of parallels between that book and entrepreneurship. The basic premise is that the main character realizes earth will be destroyed by an outside source, and so he is sent into space alone to figure out how to save earth. He encounters challenges at every turn and basically has to become Macgyver to solve all of these problems. It’s a great story and it spoke to me from an entrepreneurial perspective.

You might also like


Get the latest news and actionable advice.

Next /