This week’s interview is with Ashley Hart, the CEO and founder of start-up She Plays, the only daily fantasy sports platform dedicated exclusively to women’s sports. We were fortunately enough to find time in her busy schedule to send over a few quick questions about She Plays to understand her motivations and plans for the future.
How did She Plays come to life for you? Is there a certain moment when you knew this is what you wanted to see accomplished?
Hart. I was at a crossroads. I left my former career and was fortunate enough to take some time to really dive into what that next step could be. It kept coming back to sports.
I struggled in finding a way to watch my favorite soccer team’s games, as well as watching the US Women’s Soccer team continually fight for equality. While brainstorming with family, we questioned what was missing on the women’s side of the sports industry that has helped men’s leagues get more engagement, visibility and sponsorship.
It funneled down to: why are there no fantasy sports opportunities for women? We know what fantasy sports has done for the MLB and NFL, so let’s do the same and make a platform specifically for women’s sports. Our assumption was correct that there wasn’t a product like this on the market, and thus began She Plays.
If you were describing She Plays to someone who had never heard of it before, what would you tell them?
Hart. We are a one-stop shop for fans of women’s sports in the U.S. We’ve got fantasy games, news, podcasts and an incredible community that loves to come together and show others how amazing women’s sports leagues and athletes are in this country.
What is your background in sports and fantasy sports?
Hart. I grew up playing sports. Growing up in North Carolina, sports were a large facet of my life and family time. I always tell people that when the ACC Tournament was happening, we had classes in high school where we just watched the games. It’s been part of the fabric of my life which has helped define who I am as an individual and the value that I see in a greater community.
I was very shocked at the lack of available statistics in women’s sports
I started playing fantasy sports in middle school with NCAA brackets and fantasy football in high school. I love how fantasy sports can bring people together (family and friend leagues) and foster a new appreciation for athletes and the performances that they bring every game day.
What is your overall vision for She Plays?
Hart. We want She Plays to be a major influence and presence in the women’s sports industry. We want to be the hub of activity around women’s sports where fans can engage with each other, players and teams, and get the latest news. We want to provide fantasy games that fans have never had access to before — a way to enjoy their favorite sport in a new way.
Is there one aspect of the development of She Plays that has been a major surprise to you or a challenge that seemed too tough to overcome?
Hart. I was very shocked at the lack of available statistics in women’s sports. Even for coverage that does exist, the depth of stat collection is still so basic compared to men’s leagues. For many women’s pro leagues, there is no coverage at all from major stats sites. It does make developing a game platform a bit more of a challenge because ideally you are getting scores and updates from one company with similar API feeds.
Thankfully, we have found some amazing people in the industry who help us find sources and who do cover women’s sports. I’d really love to see a major statistics company invest in women’s leagues, put money upfront for it and watch the customers flock to them.
Being a big sports fan yourself – where do your rooting interests sit?
- NCAA: My alma mater the Wake Forest Demon Deacons
- NWSL: Orlando Pride
- WNBA: Phoenix Mercury – I want the WNBA to come back to Orlando!!