The purpose of Client Tell is to spotlight the incredible work of our clients, and to help businesses learn from and connect with each other. This month, we caught up with Vin McCaffrey, the creator of Game Plan, the nation’s leading student-athlete development platform. Read how this North Carolina startup is helping student athletes across the country have a richer college experience and prepare for greatness in life after sport.

Identifying A Need

Vin McCaffrey’s business idea was born out of his desire to serve student athletes as they transition into the professional world. As a four-year member of Lehigh University’s men’s basketball team (Go Mountain Hawks!), Vin learned how to balance a rigorous academic and athletic schedule. When he graduated in 1998, he realized just how much the college athlete experience prepared him for the real world.

After earning his MBA from Indiana University, Vin founded Game Plan to help connect athletes to employers, but now that’s become a side benefit of its primary focus on serving entire athletic departments. “The life of a student athlete is extremely demanding,” said Vin. “I realized that athletic departments were in great need of a resource that could help create a culture of excellence, support the athletes during their entire college journey and prepare them for life after they hang up their jerseys.”

Growth and Innovation

Game Plan launched in 2008, and is now the top student-athlete development software, serving more than 50,000 students and administrators at more than 40 prestigious college and university athletic departments. It’s become a virtual mentorship platform, with resources that help athletes transition out of their sport and into the workforce. The company’s innovative approach has been featured in industry leading publications including espnW, Sporting News, Fast Company, and Forbes. Vin explained:

“The nation’s most successful athletic programs recognize the great asset they have in their athletes, and that these students are worth the investment not only on the field, but off. These individuals have lived and breathed their sport since they were little kids, and they need a lifeline as they make such a huge shift in their identities. Employers are attracted to these athletes because they’re way ahead of their peers in the areas of discipline, accountability and time management. Everybody wins.” 

Hard-Learned Lesson

Vin says the overnight success story that has come to characterize the American startup simply isn’t accurate. “Starting a thriving business has been a long bumpy road, and I’ve stubbed my toe more times than I can possibly count,” he reflected. “But I’ve always tried to see my setbacks as learning opportunities rather than failures.”

Game Plan’s evolution from a simple student platform to a sophisticated software connecting athletes, athletic departments and employers has been a massive endeavor. According to Vin, having the right team of people in place is crucial to the launch and growth process. He advises other entrepreneurs to be intentional in how they build their teams, and have solid advisors in place when making decisions around equity.

Specialized Expertise

Today Game Plan looks to Fourscore Business Law for its unique legal needs. “My business is a software application, and the Fourscore team brings first-hand experience and wisdom in this area,” said Vin. “From creating customer contracts to protecting intellectual property, they are always looking out for the company’s best interest, and just making my life easier. I love that they can cut through the clutter and explains things in simple language I can understand.”

Vin also recommends that tech startups be very selective when appointing their legal counsel. “Don’t hire someone quickly, only to realize they don’t have the specific skill set required to serve you well,” he said. “Having an advisor who really understands your industry and what it takes to build something from the ground up is invaluable.”

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