CHAMPAIGN — For the past three years, coach and teacher Jamal Maatuka has been working on a plan for his sports marketing and business foundations classes at Central High School.
Soon, his class hopes to launch the business, called Fanpalooza, which will supply information, photos and stats about student-athletes at Central and Centennial, all on a smartphone app.
“It’s a virtual media guide,” Maatuka said.
Over the years, he said he’s been asked, “Why don’t you guys just start a business?”
“This is our attempt at starting a business,” he said.
The Fanpalooza app will have details about teams and players from Champaign’s public high schools.
This week, Maatuka’s classes invited athletes to his classroom to fill out their information and get their picture taken. The students also got to visit a “VIP” room learn more about the app.
The app will be free, so it will make money from advertisements. Proceeds will be donated to charity.
“The way we’re planing to make money is selling advertisements, mostly to local businesses,” senior Allen Potenberg said.
“Companies can purchase an ad for a specific school,” senior Nik Johnson said. “So if some parent has a business and their kid goes to Central and plays on the soccer team, they can put an ad on the Central soccer page in the app.”
Maatuka also hopes the app can help promote the athletes, who can add photos and links to videos and articles.
“There’s a lot of DII, DIII, NAIA colleges who don’t have the budget to come see you,” Maatuka said. “Maybe somebody can get lucky and continue their high school endeavors in college.”
The students aren’t actually coding the app — that’s being contracted out, Maatuka said — but they said the experience of building a business has been valuable.
Johnson has learned “how to promote something, how to market it, how to pitch an idea, how to build the foundation of a business or an organization,” he said. “It’s good to be able to learn the business side of things while also working on something that is real and hands-on.”