The FUTRSPRT Interview Series: Honest Game Co-Founders Joyce Anderson & Kim Michelson
By Matt Bowen
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FUTRSPRT Interview Series presents conversations with some of the sharpest minds in sports tech. Leaving no angle of competition or fan experience unscathed FUTRSPRT showcases those creating the future of sports right before our eyes.
FUTRSPRT’s Matt Bowen had the immense pleasure of speaking with Honest Game Co-Founders Joyce Anderson and Kim Michelson about how the company will shape the future of college athletics from an academic standpoint for generations to come.
Yes, Honest Game is driven by tech, but its mindset is what makes it shines. The young company took home the $50,000 top prize during the Chicago Bulls Venture Competition, powered by LOUD Capital(CBVC) on March 11, 2020. Although that seems like that was 149 years ago in today’s world, the win is still fresh.
Here’s why that’s extraordinary — Honest Game didn’t exist as a company until January of 2020. Sure, the co-founders had previously met and “vetted each other out” but Honest Game didn’t officially exist until 2020.
The company specializes in creating a roadmap for individual athletes to become academically eligible for college sports. Within 60 days of officially launching, the company had “12 customers and 7,500 users.”
Hold onto your VC hats, you read that correctly. Eat your heart out, Silicon Valley, those numbers are coming from two women in Chicago.
How Did Honest Game Take Flight?
Joyce Anderson begins the conversation by touting her friend and co-founder, Kim Michelson.
“Kim was the first female athlete in the state of California to play on a men’s varsity team. She’s now been involved in non-profits surrounding sports for the past 25 years in Chicago.”
Anderson played tennis at Columbia before earning her law degree. She coached high school tennis when she met Michelson, who would help Anderson’s athletes with academics.
“We saw the same mistakes repeated”, said Anderson in regards to young athletes looking to become eligible on the collegiate level. We both knew this needed to change.”
Anderson continues, “In early 2019 we met for coffee, Kim brought this roadmap and I knew I was all in.”
“We’re ying and yang”, said Michelson. “Joyce crosses the t’s and dots the i’s. I’m more of a marketer.”
Fast forward to today and Honest Game is a public benefit corporation that focuses on equal access for all high school athletes to play sports at the next level.
Michelson states, “We’re doing well by doing good. We know what we care about.”
Sit back and ponder the magnitude of Honest Game’s impact on sports in the future. The company is creating the blueprint for athletic academics and translating it into one language that everyone involved can understand.
Honest Game’s portal allows access to its core product, College Athletic Report on Eligibility (CARE™). Parents, coaches, and counselors all have access to CARE, which is an up-to-date checklist for student-athletes that tracks GPA, gives academic advice, and maps PSAT/ACT/SAT progress. This gives each kid a support team and assists them in reaching their goals.
In Your Personal Lives, What’s Tech Has Your Attention @ the Moment?
Michelson quickly blurts out, “Interfaces!”
“Since we’ve gotten into this I look at so many platforms. Canva has my attention right now.”
Anderson says something familiar at the moment, “Zoom.”
“I have three boys under 11 and since shelter-in-place has been underway they’ve used Zoom for school work and to talk to friends. We’re also into Duo Lingo.”
In the Next 12–18 Months, How Will You Challenge Yourselves Personally & as Leaders?
“We have big ambitions and I love the touch points I have with kids. When we were presented as the competition winners during a Chicago Bulls game my boys got to see me on the court. They got to see what a woman could do”, says Anderson.
Michelson replies matter-of-factly, “We’re doing it, we’re changing lives. We’re on the journey.”
What’s the Next Tech Initiative for Honest Game?
Anderson begins, “If we’re solving a problem that deeply impacts the trajectories of lives we’re in it. Young kids aren’t thinking about [long-term] priorities. Short-term goals motivate them more. Sports is the carrot.”
Honest Game’s CARE™ should be considered a modern marvel. It is the carrot Anderson mentions, providing the big picture for everyone involved with the milestones broken down into achievable steps for the individual student athlete.
“We want to impact all students, for all colleges/schools. This is our Horizon II”, says Michelson.
Anderson is also president of the board of directors for Girls Play Sports, a nonprofit that supports girls’ leadership by way of sports participation, and is on the NCAA Eligibility Center High School Advisory Board.
She states, “Girls don't play or realize they could have played sports in college. EY did a study that showed 80 percent of C-Suite women played sports in high school.”
These words spoken by the co-founders should serve as a shot across the bow of present-day education and athletics. Honest Game knows there’s a better way and they have the roadmap to an improved tomorrow.
In 3 Years Honest Game Will Be Known for _________?
Michelson captains the question with vigor, “We’re going to change communities. Honest Game will be like Carfax, the stamp of approval for student-athletes and academic eligibility.”
Now with a bevy of business expertise on its roster thanks to its CBVC win, Honest Game is ready to change sports forever.