This is one in a series of stories featuring businesses in the Brock LINC incubation program, the LINCubator. The LINCubator supports a small cohort of early-stage businesses and helps them reach their next stage of business development. The eight-month program combines workshops, mentorship, networking, business coaching and partnerships with local investor groups. For more information on the LINCubator, visit brocku.ca/linc/lincubator
As a lifelong athlete, Kyle Chiki (BSc ’15) is no stranger to local sports leagues.
And as the past owner of a league himself, he knows the challenges that can come with connecting athletes of all skills and abilities with sports opportunities available locally.
Over the years, the Brock University alumnus has developed a true passion for the camaraderie and community that is a large part of the athletic industry.
As a result, Chiki created Local Sport Search, an online inventory of sports, activities and leagues available throughout the Niagara region, and was selected among the latest cohort of LINCubator residents, Brock LINC’s business incubation program.
Once the owner of a touch football league, Chiki, who also works as a Digital Marketing Manager for Niagara Falls-based property management company Panoramic Properties, found traditional marketing was not delivering the results he would have liked. He put his background in marketing to work in hopes of helping local leagues generate new registrations and grow online.
Athletes, parents with active kids, co-workers, seniors and students can use Local Sport Search to find a sports league, camp, fitness gym, sporting event, dance studio or golf course in Niagara. Unique search filters supply relevant information, such as location, availability based on days of the week, level of play (competitive or recreational), age ranges and whether a league is for adults, youth or is co-ed. Local Sport Search also offers a convenient directory for subsidiary funding for children’s programs.
With many COVID-19 public health restrictions now lifted, Chiki has seen an uptick in website traffic as young adults and parents of young children are researching local leagues with an interest in trying new sports. Curiosity from league owners is also higher than ever as they look to promote their offerings after a two-year hiatus.
Since joining the LINCubator program, Chiki has had access to a wealth of opportunities through the various workshops he has participated in and mentors he has met.
“For me, the feeling that I am being held responsible and accountable for my work and reporting back to (LINCubator staff) Cassie (Price) and Farzana (Crocco) about progress has been motivating,” he says. “Without the program, it’s easy to become unmotivated.”
Chiki says having the ability to “approach mentors with challenges or ideas and gaining that outside, honest perspective really helps with priorities and determining where to focus on Local Sport Search.”
Local Sport Search offers information on more than 350 sports leagues in Niagara, and the directory is growing weekly. Owners can register their league information for free but will be able to upgrade to premium listings in the future as well as added digital marketing services to help drive new registrations.
Chiki will focus on marketing the business this year, expanding into other regions in Ontario, growing Local Sport Search’s online presence as well as launching a podcast for league owners and upcoming athletic events.
Users of Local Sport Search will eventually be able to register for leagues and process payment directly through the website, making the website a one-stop shop for those interested in being a part of the athletic community.