By simplifying the booking process, growing revenues for sports venues and increasing local participation, MyLocalPitch is the new online sports booking portal for players looking to find venues on the go.
Available in London, Manchester and Dublin, the online portal already gets 50,000 monthly visitors, with 70,000 bookings having been completed by users who’re able to choose from 1,000 available pitches and courts, for 17 different sports.
As the startup verges on completing its next fundraise, CEO and co-founder Jamie Foale spoke to Business Advice about his plans to expand the platform, and why recruitment is so important for tech businesses.
1) Who are you and what’s your business?
I’m Jamie Foale, co-founder of MyLocalPitch, the market leading online sports booking portal. The booking service compliments our website and is supported by a free iOS app to cater for players looking to find venues while out and about.
We have partnerships with Better Leisure, PlayFootball, Powerleague, Fusion, EveryoneActive, and agreements are already in place to help boost participation numbers with Islington council and Salford Community Leisure.
2) How do you make money?
MyLocalPitch works on a commission based model with grassroots sports facilities. Our mission is purely based on increasing bookings and getting more people into regular activities.
There are no set-up fees and we don’t charge a monthly rate for listing on the website. It’s vital to have a flexible product to ensure we provide a service to suit the needs of venues and players.
3) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
Aggregation and booking technologies have been around for a while and are widely used in the accommodation, takeaway and travel industries. MyLocalPitch has rolled out this platform for 17 different grassroots sports for the first time to enable easy access for physical activities.
Our objective is harnessing the power of technology to eradicate the inconveniences and pain-points that frustrate grassroots players. The grassroots sports space has many nuances, and we’ve created a bespoke service for venues to manage demand whether they are an independent venue or a larger corporate entity.
Sports facilities, in some instances, don’t yet have the resources to introduce the online booking technology and market their facilities online.
In these instances, we provide bookings management software to help venues migrate online. Improving the grassroots sports booking process has already had numerous positive results for venues by increasing booking numbers and revenues.
4) What was key in terms of getting started?
Extensive research was undertaken to ensure we understood all key grassroots B2B factors that would help shape the service. With a foundation in place, it then was about creating the business model and raising the first tranche of investment to get the project out of the blocks. Ensuring our platform was technologically sound was important given it’s the integral part of the grassroots solution.
5) How’ve you raised finance and why have you chosen that method?
SEIS is a fantastic scheme and that helps you to partially de-risk the investment for the investor. We were lucky enough to bring on some excellent investors who also help act as mentors in a wide range of matters, each lending their expertise.
6) What’s been the key to your social media success? Which platforms do you use?
Understanding what content our users engage with has been pivotal in our social media successes. Sports create vast streams of rich content and it’s important only the most relevant and fun pieces are shared.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin are the platforms and each is used depending on the type of content being posted. In-depth analytics allow us to monitor our communication and adapt accordingly.
7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
Just a few delays in launching product features common in the startup environment. We always want to ensure that each release is the best it can be and that involves thorough testing.
8) What’s been your biggest challenge?
Since we started we’ve found millions of users that experienced the same problem of booking facilities that myself and co-founder did before the business launched. However, we are still working hard to change perceptions within the sports industry itself that increasing online accessibility directly helps their businesses.
Sports venues often think it will be too expensive to implement and hard to maintain, so we spend a lot of time proving that this can be a real benefit to venues as well as users.
9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Every business is different and it’s hard to say something which applies to them all, but if you’re a tech-based business, it’s so important to hire the right developers and try to keep them in house, if your budget permits.
Recruiting good developers takes an extraordinarily long time but it’s worth the effort because if you get it right then you will have a great product that can scale.
10) Which influential figure would you most like to partner with in business and why?
Barack Obama. He’d be pretty good at giving inspirational speeches to the workforce and be useful when launching in the US! Plus, I hear he’s not bad at basketball.
Meet Qure – The healthcare startup greeting Deliveroo’s managing director to its board
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.