“My entire professional career has been dedicated to identifying broken processes and streamlining them. After experiencing firsthand the inefficient process of cash payments, I realized I needed to fix it using technology.”
Payball is an innovative mobile app that allows sports organizations to pay their officials, coaches, event staff, and more in a quick, simple, and efficient way. Replacing outdated cash and checks, this modern solution brings some much-needed innovation to the sports industry. Let’s introduce the man behind the magic – Pete Makover!
Pete grew up in Syosset, Long Island, and was a 3-sport athlete, participating in lacrosse, basketball, and soccer. Sports were always a big part of Pete’s life, especially as a child, and the years of competition and camps ultimately impacted his love for sports and the related values he acquired over time.
Having attended Penn State from 1989-1994, Pete played lacrosse and was the captain of the team in 1993. Pete majored in Economics and International Business, earning his degree after 4.5 years that included a semester abroad in Rome and bouncing back from a medical redshirt year due to a back injury during his junior year. After overcoming these challenging adjustments, Pete completed his degree and had a strong final lacrosse season.
The Inspiration behind Payball
Ever since graduating from Penn State, Pete had dreamed of running his own successful business someday. Over the years, he had acquired several ideas – some rather creative, others rather embarrassing, according to Pete. However, none of them really took hold at the time, as Pete was in the midst of raising his young family and building his career.
Pete’s wife, Jen, was also a college athlete and the captain of the Lehigh lacrosse team. Together, they created a self-described sports-centric family and were both actively involved in their children’s youth sports, coaching lacrosse, basketball, soccer, and flag football. Pete also served on the board for his town’s lacrosse program for 10 years, and at one time was responsible for managing the payments to game officials – a process that was done with cash. This required providing all coaches with enough cash each week to be able to pay officials on the field at games – a process that varied depending on all sorts of factors, such as how many officials showed up, their ages. These variables presented additional challenges like having the right denominations in cash or seeking out exact change from other parents at the game. This also meant the program didn’t have a reasonable way to track the cash flow.
After reaching his limit with this payment system, Pete decided to seek out a better one – this time, using modern technology. Although there already existed many e-payment solutions, after contacting a wide network across the country in all sports and ages, Pete discovered that there was an immense lack of electronic payments being used in the sports world. They all shared in his frustration and need for technology to help. After researching what was already out there, or the lack thereof, Pete experienced his “lightbulb moment” in the Spring of 2016. Realizing that the massive and growing market of organized sports demanded a payment solution, Pete felt that this was the perfect opportunity for a hyper-simplistic utility application to allow sports organizations to pay people – not just officials, but anyone – with ease.
The Start of Payball
In November of 2016, Pete created the company and started developing the mobile app. Payball was officially launched in March of 2017, just in time for the Spring Sports Season.
In its first season, Payball had just a few organizations as clients. The following summer, Payball was picked up by a Long Island Lacrosse club for summer tournaments, which triggered a domino effect to several other clubs. By the Fall of 2017, Payball was also picked up by the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League for their inaugural showcase game and simultaneously started branching out into other sports. Since then and over the past four years, Payball has continued to expand across the country to over 150 organizations, aiding almost all sports and all ages – from youth to adult recreational leagues, to professionals. Pete recently said in an interview, “It’s been an exciting ride…working hard for our customers while trying to grow…It was a tremendously fulfilling realization to see how much we’ve grown through the lenses of both sports and geography.”
Payball is now used in a vast array of sports, including soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, lacrosse, field hockey, tennis, and wrestling.
The Effects of COVID-19
Unfortunately, Payball experienced a stall in business due to the outbreak of COVID-19, as did many companies all across the world. All sports stopped, and so too did all related revenue. All of this happened just after Payball released new upgrades to the app with a number of innovative new features. The same week that the announcement was set to be released, the COVID pandemic arrived and shut down the sports world.
Thankfully, as Payball is in its fourth year of business, the company has been able to maintain stability and sustain the lull in revenue without much worry. Pete said, “We’re focused on being here for our existing customers when they are ready to get back to playing. AND we want to be here for new organizations that are trying to figure out how to get smarter – and SAFER – about payments.”
One aspect of payments that became very apparent through COVID was the health and safety concerns associated with handling physical cash and checks. Paper payments are now not only inefficient but also unsafe from a health perspective. Nobody wants to handle paper that has been passed from person to person anymore. This is the age of technological payments, now more than ever.
Payball plays a critical role in making sure that players, coaches, officials, managers, and staff stay healthy. That is why we are spreading the word about the additional health benefits associated with using Payball, so that when organizations restart and new health protocols and regulations are put in place, Payball will lead the way in electronic payments in the sports world.
Continuing the Grow
According to Pete, the ultimate goal of Payball is to become the universal currency for all sports across the globe. Pete aspires to continue to expand his business and help as many people as possible, in as many ways as possible, by continuously modifying the app, creating new features, listening to feedback from his clients, and using his own vast experience.
Pete said, “All organized sports require payments – it’s not an optional luxury item – it’s a fundamental need. Our mission is to focus on the fundamentals of payments so that Payball is the easiest and fastest option for everyone.”