Meet the company that counts the LA Clippers and the LA Lakers on an expanding client list that includes venues such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The company has, on average, enabled their customers to increase fan interaction by 242% and corporate revenue by 37%.
EngageRM, a Melbourne-based provider of business automation, analytics, and CRM for the sports and entertainment industries, is helping their customers enhance fan engagement and customer interaction. The company has grown rapidly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with expansion into North America and Europe.
EngageRM was founded by Brett Yorgey, himself a former professional athlete in the Australian Football League (AFL). In 2010, the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam signed up as EngageRM’s first sports client, closely followed by AFL team Collingwood FC, with the company solely focusing on sports and entertainment since then.
“Prior to 2010, we worked with local government, housing multiple businesses under one roof,” Yorgey tells TheStadiumBusiness.com. “This lent itself well to a powerful omnichannel CRM platform. This knowledge was then applied to sports and entertainment clients, through some of the largest industry organisations in Australia, to deliver a single view of a customer.”
On the back of its success in sports and entertainment, EngageRM realised the outcomes they could deliver to the industry.
“Over the past decade, we’ve refined our programme,” says Yorgey (pictured below). “Now, through our strong partnership with Microsoft, we have a product that delivers the most powerful cutting-edge technology, enabling effective outcomes for our customers.”
The ‘RM’ in EngageRM stands for relationship management – a critical part of the company’s offering. The platform allows sports venues, teams, and governing bodies to build deeper, stronger, and more valuable relationships with fans, partners, and the community through a centralised data-driven system, eliminating the need for silos.
Ned Coten, EngageRM’s chief executive, explains that prospective partners approach the company because they are frustrated with systems that fail to talk to each other.
“The way that we resolve this is with a single platform,” says Coten, a seasoned sports executive and former president of Basketball Australia.
“A lot of businesses and a lot of platforms say that they’ve got a single point of data, but they don’t.”
He adds: “They’re going to different places to get data all the time, so every time you’ve got to go to a new place, it means you’ve got an opportunity to have duplication and for something to break along the way. Having that single point of collation of data is really, really critical.”
EngageRM’s data-driven intelligence is built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, which specialises in customer engagement for teams, leagues, and venues. EngageRM was selected by Microsoft as one of five global partners in its co-sell programme and serves as an independent software vendor of the technology giant.
According to Coten, entry into the co-sell programme has provided EngageRM with “unprecedented access” to the Microsoft engineering teams in California and Israel, among other locations.
Microsoft’s development across its entire platform is being utilised in the sport and entertainment sector via EngageRM.
As a result, EngageRM has access to new technology six to 12 months before the wider market.
“We’re natively connected to the Microsoft ecosystem, so all our clients are already using Microsoft Outlook, they’re already using Microsoft Teams, and they already use a lot of the functionality that Microsoft delivers,” says Coten.
“We’re utilising all these tools in a familiar environment, allowing our customers to maximise use every day.
“The point about making things simple and having that idea of the central nervous system means that every part knows what every other part is doing, and all that information is going to the brain. That’s precisely the way that this platform works.
“This allows our customers to have a single point of decision making across their business. Different teams within an organisation can now be cohesive and understand shared outcomes through an omnichannel approach.”
“It’s tough to reach your potential unless you’ve got the systems and processes to underpin this, and that’s what our organisation delivers.”
EngageRM’s relationship with Microsoft also aided the company’s expansion into the US. In February 2020, the LA Clippers NBA basketball team – owned by former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer – became EngageRM’s first US client.
EngageRM has since expanded in the NBA and undertaken a community engagement project with NFL American football franchise the Chicago Bears. In July, the company entered another new market by opening an office in Manchester, England.
EngageRM has doubled in size in the past 12 months, with Nick Zanotto heading up the company’s US operations with assistance from the recently appointed Jackie Purcell.
In May, Alex Stasyszyn also joined the UK team as a Customer Experience Manager and has since been promoted to Head of Customer Experience in Europe.
The Clippers (whose proposed Intuit Dome arena is pictured below) partnership signed just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic opened doors for EngageRM. Coten states that time spent with the team “really underpinned” the company’s expansion in the US.
“We were able to build a strong partnership with the Clippers,” says Coten. “We met them through our partnership with Microsoft and have since started working with multiple LA based NBA teams, OVG, and the LA Forum.
“We’ve started to get a foothold in the US, and it’s all because we made the commitment to this market, and we’re starting to see the benefits of that.”
Coten notes that EngageRM beat “key global competition” to partner with these organisations. At the same time, Yorgey admits it is a “different commercial reality” in the US compared to Australia. However, much of the capability is transferable across the two markets.
“This foundation (in Australia) has set us up incredibly well,” says Coten. “Up until recently, the business has been focused almost entirely on product development and going into new markets. We have taken processes that occur in the Australian market that other markets have not yet seen.
“This has been appealing for organisations within the US and the UK. We have also been able to learn and understand how organisations in international markets operate and quickly adapt and develop our product to ensure that we have even more capability. Interestingly, many things taken for granted in Australia, such as the concept of membership, are not utilised extensively in other markets.”
Coten is also keen for EngageRM to expand further afield.
“We want to focus on the US and UK, but quite quickly, we’re getting interest from across Europe and the Middle East, and we haven’t explored the Asian market,” he says.
“Probably one of the reasons is that there are lots of opportunities in the UK and US and for a business like ours we want to be focusing on doing outstanding work with really great clients, and some of the most iconic brands are in the US and UK.”
EngageRM’s expansion has come amid the backdrop of the pandemic, which has forced sports teams and venues to find new ways to engage with fans. As a result, EngageRM’s services have become more useful than ever, and Yorgey feels the pandemic has forced organisations to reflect on their methods.
“What I think has happened over the last 18 months of COVID is that the venues and the clubs and the entertainment areas have identified that the technology needs to be better leveraged through the business,” he says.
“Silos have got to be removed, and more informed decisions have got to be made because we’re going to have more to do with fewer people and probably less revenue to do it. I think COVID has brought forward, probably by five years, some of these decisions around how best to leverage technology to make it happen.
“I think the people at the board level of these organisations that we deal with are questioning the executive as to why are you not doing this, rather than letting things go as they have been for a long time.”
Coten (pictured above) echoes those thoughts by saying: “During COVID, teams, leagues, and venues have identified that in many cases they do not have an as strong relationship with their fans and audience as they thought. In addition, many people have been working from home and do not have the luxury of seeing people face-to-face in an office every day.
“As a result of this, technology, in general, has become far more relevant as the world’s workforce seeks to find new ways to collaborate, engage and ensure that they can work clearly and concisely.
“EngageRM is perfectly suited to solve these problems. Because of our native integration to apps like Outlook and Teams, all the work completed within EngageRM can link together seamlessly, meaning our clients have access to information and data regardless of where they are working at any time of the day.
“Some clients have gone from working in one centralised office to having staff all over the country, which has occurred in Australia, the US and the UK.
“Our focus on fan and audience engagement has meant that even though fans are not coming face-to-face with their teams in a venue, they still feel connected to organisations. COVID has seen us become even more focused in this area to develop additional capability, which will serve our clients well for years to come.”
EngageRM is a sponsor of this year’s TheStadiumBusiness Summit, which will take place at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester on November 30 and December 1. Click here to meet them.
Over the weekend, EngageRM announced that Gandel Invest has acquired a stake in the company. Click here for more information.