Trevor Keane acted on a lifelong ambition to work in sport after seeing a lack of fantasy options outside of football, leading to the creation of Sportego. The global fantasy sports developer platform and gaming development company recently launched in the UK after being established in Ireland in 2014. The app is the first globally to offer cash-based fantasy football on individual Premier League games.
Keane hopes the business will help professional sporting organisations increase brand awareness and heighten anticipation surrounding sporting fixtures both in and out of the stadium, utilising the mantra “turning likes and tweets into bums on seats”. He spoke to Business Advice about already catching the interest of West Bromwich Albion and the difficulty in getting the right investors.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
I’m the founder and CEO of Sportego, a global fantasy sports developer platform and innovative marketing and gaming development company. I launched the brand in 2014 in Ireland and developed the world’s first app that offers cash-based fantasy football on individual Premier League games.
Before Sportego, I spent 14 years in the financial services industry, with seven years’ experience in client relations and shareholder services. I made the career move due to a lifelong wish to work in sport and when I realised there was a lack of fantasy options available outside of football, I came up with the idea for Sportego. The rest is history.
(2) How long have you been around for?
The concept first appeared as a beta product in 2012, however, Sportego has been a limited company since March 2014. We launched into the UK in August 2015, building on our initial Irish success and have been full-time business since July 2014.
(3) How do/will you make money?
We design and create marketing and gaming tools with the sole purpose of helping professional sports clubs and organisations increase engagement, interaction, conversion rates and revenue. We offer packages depending on a club’s size and gaming needs, as well as marketing services. We also have a UK betting license so have a cash-based daily fantasy football app, and soon we’ll also have a fantasy rugby game too. There is vast ability to expand into other team sports and something we’ll be exploring in due course.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
No one else is doing what we are doing. Our product is well rounded and offers fantasy football or games specifically linking to individual sporting clubs. This includes social hashtags – meaning you don’t need to come in and out of social media accounts, and we offer the chance to capture data in a fun interactive way with the opportunity to monetise.
Within one week of launching in the UK we signed our first Premier League team, West Bromwich Albion. The gaming suite we’re developing has been tailor-made for Baggies supporters and will be available on iOS and Android devices for the 2015/16 season. It will offer a multitude of features to fans, including a unique fantasy football game based around the team’s fixtures. Throughout the season, fans will be able to play as part of the wider club community in real-time for the chance to win match tickets, as well as being able to compete against friends. It will help West Brom strengthen its relationship with fans as well as helping to entice more into the fold.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
At the heart of success is determination. Recapping my entrepreneurial journey so far, having a strong presence on social media, especially LinkedIn, has really helped me network and has given me a platform to demonstrate my knowledge in the sector. Additionally, securing seed investment from Howzat Partners was invaluable and has enabled us to proceed to the next level.
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
Firstly taking an idea from a bedroom to a business has to be my greatest achievement, and shows anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Then securing Leinster GAA as Sportego’s first commercial client and becoming the first ever fantasy football partner of West Bromwich Albion have both been among my favourite professional moments.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
The gambling element made it tricky to get the right investors at first. We were unable to apply for a competitive startup fund, run by an Irish government agency, because of our gambling license. My advice would be to remember there is no one size fits all investor, so it’s important to research not only their recent areas of success but any restrictions to funding e.g. gambling aspects, and ultimately their investment approach as well.
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
I’m not one for relaxing, so hopefully I‘ll still be working hard but maybe helping other startups. I benefited greatly from a mentor at the start of my entrepreneurial journey and I’m keen to share my experience and help other businesses succeed.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Celebrate the successes. Make sure you take a moment to sit back and take in what you have achieved because when things are difficult, self-doubt can creep in.
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
It’s hard to look beyond my father. He was a security guard who became an entrepreneur after being made redundant. He quickly founded his own cleaning company and it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was what I now know was a “lifestyle entrepreneur” because he wanted a good life, where he had nice things and a good family life. He didn’t want a big company and the thing I admire the most is the fact he didn’t let disappointment cloud him and he made the life he wanted for him and us. I am a bit like him; but the main difference is I want my company to be an international success.
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