Meet Play-Ex Founder, Ryan Hughes
Meet Ryan Hughes, the Founder and visionary behind Play-Ex Sports.
1. What is your professional background?
Prior to launching Play-Ex Sports, I had a 20-year career in capital markets and fund management. My early days as a commodity broker conditioned my brain to identify mis-priced and undervalued markets which is where the idea of Play-Ex originated.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Play-Ex?
I witnessed how technology revolutionised financial markets as the exchanges went from physical locations “open outcry” (think of the film Trading Places, lots of hand movements and shouting) to electronic trading via platforms. I saw how this transition helped democratise the industry by opening up the market to more participants which subsequently drove efficiency and the ultimate reduction in fees to the consumer.
After speaking with a variety of sports professionals, I quickly realised one of the few remaining industries which has not embraced technology is the sports management industry.
I feel passionately that fit and proper advice should be a right and not a privilege. The sports management industry is totally focused on the few and not the many. This “old guard” mentality is similar in ways to the stockbroking industry of the past. I wanted to create a company which empowered all athletes, and not just the ones who were fortunate enough to know the right people. I wanted to do this in a way that was free of the constraints of contacts and fees.
3. How did you choose the name ‘Play-Ex’?
An exchange is an organised marketplace where buyers and sellers come together. I wanted to create a players’ exchange, and this gave rise to the Play-Ex brand.
Think of Airbnb – they’re the world’s largest provider of accommodation, but they don’t own the properties. Uber offers passenger services but they don’t own the taxis.
Similarly, Play-Ex doesn’t own the life management services on its platform. We are a go-between, creating a safe and secure environment where sporting talent can get first class guidance to help run their busy lives. It’s about security, the best service, saving money and invaluable peace of mind for athletes at all stages of their career.
4. Why do sports professionals need Play-Ex?
The sports service industry is incredibly fragmented and opaque. Play-Ex gives the first opportunity ever for professional athletes to get instant, unbiased, whole-of-market access to leading industry service providers any time, any place, anywhere.
We are aiming to put all the services of a sports management company in the palm of athletes’ hands, but without the constraints of contracts and fees.
5. Who are the Play-Ex ambassadors and what do they bring to the brand?
We are incredibly fortunate to have a world class set of ambassadors representing Play-Ex.
There’s Olympic gold medallist, Ben Ryan, considered the most successful rugby sevens coach of all time. Then we have Amy Williams MBE, who won gold in the skeleton event at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Finally, we have Shirley Robertson OBE, one of the best sailors on the planet, with two Olympic gold medals to her name.
Each of our ambassadors brings huge experience to Play-Ex, having gone through the highs and lows of the professional athlete’s journey. Their unique knowledge and insight help us to continually improve the services and products that we deliver.
6. What is the overall mission of Play-Ex?
Our mission is to simplify the way that sports professionals manage their lives. We are standing up for a group of people who have been under served and exploited for too long.
7. Are you replacing Agents?
Absolutely not. Agents form a vital part of the ecosystem and offer expertise around contract negotiations and endorsements. We have many agents as users of the platform.