Playworks IV

Fall-Winter 2018
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Business Plans,
Market Analysis
Organization Type


Playworks was born out of a conversation between Jill Vialet (founder and CEO) and an Oakland school principal who bemoaned the fact that a great deal of her time was spent dealing with student misbehavior during recess. Within the year, Vialet founded Sports4Kids, now Playworks, in two schools in Berkeley. Its goal: transform recess and the school day with safe and healthy play so teachers can teach and kids can learn. Fast forward twenty-two years, and Playworks is now a national organization with a forty-six million-dollar budget serving one million students annually in over 2,000 schools through twenty-three branch offices. Playworks contracts with school principals and provides direct services, training services, and a digital platform. A RAND Corporation study found that the Playworks Coach program, which provides on-site, full-time trained coaches who incorporate play and student leadership opportunities throughout the day, leads to five outcomes directly associated with stronger school climate and safety. Research shows that school climate has a direct impact on increasing the overall attendance of students.


What are the opportunities for Playworks to expand its proven consulting offering to the corporate fee-for-service environment?


Since 2010, Playworks has successfully provided corporate recesses to its funders. The organization wanted to build on this success, and its success in monetizing other assets, by developing a significant revenue stream from delivering services which utilize design thinking and a playful approach to corporations interested in building healthy cultures.

Project Objectives

  1. Assess the landscape of companies delivering corporate culture and teambuilding services.
  2. Develop recommendations on how Workswell could develop a differentiated service and operate a profitable organization, for use in developing a Workswell business plan.

Project Overview

In order to achieve the above objectives, the team (a) segmented the competitive landscape and delved deeply into a few core competitors, (b) interviewed HR executives to assess their needs for culture consulting services, and (c) developed a financial model based on inputs from the Client.

Key Recommendations

  • Continue to test and refine their programs, so that they land in a ‘space’ that is unique, credible and impactful.
  • Target small and medium sized companies who have a shortfall in resources and are going through rapid change/growth.
  • Develop a menu of offerings, including both packaged and customized services. Consider scaling pricing based on Clients’ budgets.
  • Leverage Playworks’ brand equity in order to maximize credibility and trust. Refine positioning to more specifically address client needs with a clear link to expected outcomes.
  • Create flexible resource model so to mitigate cash burn. And, design curriculum for maximum reusability.

Key Conclusions

  • The competitive climate and customer market(s) provide opportunity for Workwell to enter the corporate consulting market.
  • However, developing a credible brand and unique approach will be critical for driving pipeline. Workswell’s success will also be dependent on the Founders’ ability to scale the business, which is highly dependent on premium talent/consultants, and to do so profitably.

Final Report Outline

  • Competitive Assessment
  • Summary of HR Interviews
  • Financial Model
  • Recommendations