If you knew nothing at all about Hudl, it wouldn't take you long to figure out its business is sports.

When you enter the fourth floor lobby of its new corporate headquarters in the West Haymarket, the first thing you see is two bins of miniature basketballs signed by staff members.

Lining the walls on both sides are lockers with employee nameplates.

While the basketballs are to show off a bit — "it's one of our biggest sports," Hudl CEO David Graff said — the lockers have a practical purpose.

The sports video software company's new digs are designed around the concept of activity-based working, which allows people to do their jobs from wherever they feel they will be most productive.

That means no employees have their own desks, and no one, not even Graff, has an office.

Graff said he got the idea from Hudl's overseas offices, where the concept is much more common. The activity-based model is being used some on the coasts, but is almost nonexistent in the Midwest.

"It's one of the more fun things I've seen," said Graff, one of the company's three founders.

The fun theme extends throughout the three floors that Hudl occupies in the seven-story building at Canopy and P streets.

The centerpiece of the fourth floor is a basketball court with rows of bleachers that double as steps connecting with the fifth level. The court isn't likely to host any pickup games — it has no hoop — but is meant to be a gathering space for employees for meetings and other events.

Many of the conference rooms and private workspaces that Graff calls "phone booths" are named for sports figures -- Tom Osborne, Ndamukong Suh, Peyton Manning and Wayne Gretzky.

Meeting areas also have sports themes, with some spaces dubbed as "film rooms" and others "locker rooms."

There's also a trophy case recognizing employee awards near the employee entrance, which Hudl refers to as the "home team" entrance. (The public lobby area is the visitors' entrance.)

Graff said it was a big plus to be able to design the space from scratch.

"So much of it was just having that blank space to work with," said Graff, whose Lincoln employees had been crammed into two buildings in the Haymarket.

It also was an advantage to have a design expert on staff. Jeff Scott, a licensed architect who co-owns a commercial office furniture company on the side, did much of the design and layout of the three floors Hudl occupies.

"We certainly tried to capture technology and sports throughout the space," Scott said.

Scott also wanted to make the space a comfortable place to work. That's why it has huge windows that provide natural light and breathtaking views of downtown. There also are areas in just about every nook and cranny where people can work, unwind or both.

One of the famous Hudl perks is free lunch for employees. The company used to provide catered lunches in its previous office, but there is a full commercial kitchen on the seventh floor that provides a daily in-house meal.

Another design touch Hudl included in the building is dedicating certain sections of various floors to its other offices in Omaha, Boston, Sydney and London.

"We want to make sure everybody here remembers we're a global company," Scott said.

That global presence is just one reminder of how far the company has come from its roots as a three-person startup founded by Graff and University of Nebraska-Lincoln classmates Brian Kaiser and John Wirtz in 2006 to provide an electronic playbook to the Husker football team.

Hudl now has more than 164,000 teams in 43 sports, and 4 million unique users, using its products.

Its "Big 5" sports are football, basketball, soccer, volleyball and lacrosse, Graff said.

Other sports where it has a significant presence include baseball, softball, golf, hockey, track and field and wrestling.

Despite a growing reach that includes club, high school, college and professional sports teams around the world, Graff said Hudl is "just scratching the surface" of the potential market for its products.

He said the company will continue to focus on expanding its existing offerings across all levels of sports -- amateur to professional -- and also growing into new sports.

Earlier this year, Hudl got an additional $30 million venture capital investment, which the company said will be used to help grow its sports analytics business. That is likely to lead to the addition of hundreds of employees.

Currently, Hudl counts more than 1,000 employees worldwide, with about 350 in Lincoln. The new building has space for around 800 employees.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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