Talking shop with Park Social Soccer founder Sam Davy
Park Social Soccer wants to change the world with soccer. Through their one-for-one program, the brand gives soccer balls and opportunities to kids in need all over the globe with the goal of creating a positive social change. It’s a big idea, and the brand has big goals, but co-founder Sam Davy is accustomed to these sorts of endeavours, you can google his previous achievements. Sam was kind enough to take time out to grab a coffee and talk shop.
SSS: Before starting Park you spent years working with big companies and big teams, now you’re responsible for almost everything. Has that change forced you to change the way you work, or rein in the crazy product ideas seeing that now you’re the one having to figure them out?
SAM: It’s an interesting comment, but I don’t think I have. Obviously, if I had a bigger team of people we could try more stuff, and I could just say “go and get these samples” or “let’s try three different versions of that”. So we’d have the capacity to do more testing. But when you don’t have the money or the manpower, you have to try and get it right the first time, which is very rare, but you have to try to get as close as you damn well can on that first shot. Otherwise it sets you back, time wise, money wise, it starts impacting other projects and all that other stuff.
So I probably have dialed it back a bit in a different way — I kind of know where the safe ground is when we’ve got a technique dialed in. I know we don’t need to test it so we’ll do multiple versions that work in the same space.
But I’m conscious that only gets you so far and at some point you need to do something new. Even though I hope that at this stage in the business I’m introducing new people to the brand, it’s hard to get attention and publicity without something new. Like I’m talking to the same publications and the same people all the time and they want a new story. You need innovation and you need new product. The trick is balancing how far you can stretch that initial innovation, to get you far enough down the track, that you’ve grown the capacity in the business to innovate again.
The trick is balancing how far you can stretch that initial innovation, to get you far enough down the track, that you’ve grown the capacity in the business to innovate again.
SSS: We’ve never made a soccer ball or any other ball. Is there much difference out there?
SAM: Basically there are two ways to make a ball. Firstly you can cut out panels and stitch them together, either by hand or with a machine. Obviously at first they were all hand stitched and even now with machine stitching they still need to hand finish them. There’s a special stitch which is the last stitch that pulls the ball through and hides everything.
The other way is to high-frequency weld it together. With welding there’s a mould involved which allows you to make the repeat pieces any shape you want. Apart from giving you the ability to create crazy patterns, what welding does is help preserve the shape of the ball. There’s no warping or moving of the stitching, and there’s an exactness to it. In theory every welded ball comes out the exact same which gives you a consistency of ball for match play. In competition every ball should perform the exact same way. You want a player to be able to practice free kicks and know that when they get in a match scenario the ball will be pumped to the same level, it’ll be the same weight, and it will perform in exactly the same way. Also without stitching there are no stitch holes. That means it doesn't get heavier or change its balance during the match.
SSS: Will Park always be solely focused on soccer, or are you interested in other sports?
SAM: I want to stay in football. From an impact perspective it ticks all the boxes. No other sport is as universal. No other sport has the accessibility. No other sport comes close. And for us it’s really about looking at the basic components of the sport; balls, gear and shoes. Then within that there are technical aspects and lifestyle aspects, as well as men and women, kids and adults. Right now the women's game is really interesting to us. I think that no one is really looking at it. From a brand perspective we’ve found that their values are really in line with ours. Women generally are not doing it for money, they're doing it for the love of the sport and they’re very grateful to the sport. It’s all about giving back and supporting the next generation which is totally aligned with what we’re doing.
.Full Disclosure. While Park is one of our design partners, this is a completely unsolicited post. That said we’re huge fans of the brand and want to help spread the word any way we can.