Many young football players have a desire for a career in the National Football League when they finish with college athletics. Will Powell and Markus Sims shared this NFL dream after finishing college but found success on European football teams instead. Now, these two men are the co-founders of Podyum, which connects coaches and football players to top football organizations around the world. “Our goal is to have the over 16,000 college athletes register on our site as a safety net when they do not make the NFL to play on football teams around the world,” explained Will.
Will Powell and Markus Sims were both college football teammates at the University of South Dakota. Powell was named a 3-time all-conference player and 3-time all-academic player in his time at USD and graduated in 2013 with a degree in Finance. “I wanted to pursue an NFL career, but on draft day I didn’t receive a call… and I was lost,” shared Will. Within a few months, Powell was connected to a football team in France to begin playing professional football. During his European career, he also played in Germany and Serbia.
Markus and Will reconnected in Europe as they played for the Unicorns, a team based in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany. “We were two of the best players in Europe… but NFL teams couldn’t see us play to scout us,” explained Will. This problem drove Will and Markus to create Podyum, a platform to display athletes’ and coaches’ football resumes to teams worldwide.
The connections Will and Markus made as professional players in Europe provided the foundation for their platform. “We gained connections with European teams and their managements….and we even have a former teammate that is our web developer in Serbia,” explained Will. The journey for Will and Markus began as a dream for the NFL and has grown into a dream to see football spread around the world.
The Podyum Journey
Since 2015, Will and the Podyum team have conducted two rounds of fundraising, gaining thousands of dollars towards the official launch of the platform. In 2016, the current website was launched providing free access with a monthly subscription plan for players and teams that want to submit applications or post job opportunities. “Everytime we have a player signed to a professional team, we create a social media image to celebrate the success stories that take place on Podyum,” explained Will.
Currently, the Podyum team operates out of an office in Sioux Falls and in Serbia. Along with Will and Markus, Joe Quaintance, John Custer, and four USD interns round out the Podyum team in Sioux Falls. With football happening around the world, Will shared that “From January to early Summer, I am overseas to help connect players to coaches in Europe.”
The next stage for Podyum is establishing a European camp combine for athletes to impress scouts from European football teams. “We want to give Podyum guys the next level of treatment and show them off to big time scouts,” explained Will. The Podyum team believes football is just the start and will look to scale to other major sports in the coming years.