How covering niche sports with die-hard fans is paying off for Austin’s FloSports

Following a $21.2 million investment, the digital sports media company is moving to a new East Austin headquarters to handle its rapid growth.

Posted February 17th, 2017

Six months ago, digital sports media startup FloSports raised $21.2 million to expand coverage of niche sports for die-hard fans.

Now the company -- which provides online sites for sports that don’t typically get network coverage -- is putting that money to work.

Martin Floreani is co-founder and CEO of FloSports.

FloSports has added 55 workers, bringing its headcount to 225. Plans include hiring an additional 175 employees over the next 18 months.

To handle the growth, FloSports said it is moving to a new 60,000-square-foot headquarters in East Austin. The new space on East Fifth Street adjacent to Plaza Saltillo will more than double the company’s current square footage on East Cesar Chavez Street.

“Austin’s our home and we’re really excited to be growing so fast here,” said co-founder and CEO Martin Floreani. “We’re hiring in product engineering, marketing, finance, content, really across all departments.”

RELATED: FloSports raises $21.1 million to expand coverage of niche sports

With the new investment and larger team, FloSports is ramping up the number of sports it covers, adding a new one every month, Floreani said. The company currently covers 20 sports, including wrestling, volleyball, hockey and rodeo.

FloSports’ sites feature free content including breaking news, interviews with athletes and coaches and rankings. The company offers a subscription service for $20 to $30 a month or $150 a year for live streaming of games and competitions, as well as archived footage, documentaries and training videos.

Coverage includes all levels of the sports, from youth to high school to college to professional. 

The idea for FloSports was born a decade ago, when brothers Martin Floreani and Mark Floreani saw a business opportunity in covering sports that have rabid fans but get little media attention.

Mark Floreani is co-founder and COO of Austin-based FloSports.

Martin Floreani, who wrestled for California Polytechnic State University, and Mark Floreani, a former University of Texas track athlete, raised money from friends and family, bought a van and began a three-month road trip, shooting video of anything they could find related to wrestling, including interviews with athletes and coaches and footage of practices and tournaments. They posted the content on a website.

Fans loved it, and the brothers launched the company. Last month, FloSports wrapped up its best month on record, with net cash coming from subscriptions increasing  80 percent from the year earlier. The company has more than 56 million unique page views across its sites annually. (The privately held company does not disclose revenue.)

RELATED: For startups like FloSports, talent gaps put pinch on hiring

The growth is being driven by the rapid changes in sports media and the traditional cable model, Martin Floreani said. 

“Sports media is changing, and anyone that doesn’t get that, and start acting fast, is going to be left behind,” he said. “Our vision is to transform sports media. Traditional broadcasters think they can just put the same content online. But we have a digital-first DNA, and it’s actually about how content is created, how it’s delivered and how it’s accessed.”

FloSports is also using data analytics developed by its engineers to get a competitive advantage, Floreani said. 

“Building our own data system lets see how millions of customers engage with our content. It tells us how people are coming in, what they’re doing and what's working and not working, and we can make decisions on the fly,” Floreani said. “We’re a laboratory where we’re innovating on a sport by sport basis, and we can apply what we learn to all other sports.”