Andy Meikle of Sportlobster, the social sports network, visits the Startup Salon.

Pitch us the concept... Sportlobster is a social network completely dedicated to sport. It's more than just that though, it’s a one-stop-shop for fans that takes the current online experience and brings it into one place tailored to each user's preferences in sport. Rather than having to visit multiple sites for news, predictions, videos and photos, scheduling of events, results, standings and interactions, Sportlobster consolidates all that and personalises the experience to your passions in sport. So for example, if you like tennis, Chelsea FC and Lewis Hamilton, your whole experience is based around that.

We came up with the idea when... we saw a massive gap in the market. There are many social networks but none that are really tailored for sports fans. The experience for fans is quite a lengthy and disjointed one as it means having to visit lots of different sites that have different functions. For example, different sites for news and predictions and then you would go to Twitter or Facebook to offer your opinion. You’re unlikely to get the reaction or community feel that you want as those sites are much broader. We felt the fans deserved more than that.

The biggest challenge... right now of course is to spread the word about Sportlobster and get people using the network. There are huge opportunities to really establish Sportlobster as The Sport Social Network on a global scale, and that is definitely our aim. We want to create the most useful and rewarding online experience for sports fans.
 
The average day is spent... Every day is so varied. As we’ve only just launched BETA there’s a lot happening. I spend time with Nico, our technical manager, going through feedback from users or discussing new ideas that have come to mind, placing priorities for the development team to deal with. Arron (co-founder & COO) and I look at new ways to market Sportlobster and more recently this has entailed meeting professional athletes and their agents to discuss the benefits of Sportlobster to them. We’re also now in the process of raising a Series A round of funding so we’re meeting with potential investors about the opportunity at hand. Any other free time in my day is spent on Sportlobster trying to get my predictions accuracy up!

The team consists of... We have a total of 23 people working on the project and that includes our in-house team, as well as those we have partnered with in London for the likes of PR, design, digital marketing and development. It's a strong team, everyone has expertise within their specific roles ensuring there's no half measures on what we're doing.

Our USP is... We bring all content together and customise it. At the moment the experience online is not satisfying and there is so much irrelevant content. With Sportlobster, you get exactly what you want, in one place, tailored to your preferences in sport.
 
In five years we’d like to be... We’d like to reach 200 million users and be rising. We see this as being a global social network with users in every country across the world. We want to satisfy sports fans globally. Having built this based on a lot of research, we fully believe those numbers are attainable.
Andy with co-founder and COO, Arron Shepherd

Our best piece of advice for gaining investment… Honesty, self-belief and determination. First, be honest with yourself on whether your great idea will be a great business. It’s not always the case. If it is, believing in yourself will give investors confidence. They are investing in you before anything else. Last, you will need determination. If the investors see this in you, they are more likely to back you. If the investors don’t feel the same way as you do about the project you need to dust yourself off and go at it again.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... Nothing big stands out really. We're all major sports fans and because we knew the experience of building the business and network is something that we'd enjoy, it's given us the energy to drive through the ups and downs any start-up would naturally come across. The build has been a big, complex task and it's amazing how flexible you need to be. What seemed like a great idea yesterday, may seem bad today for whatever obstacle has come your way, and you need to deal with those situations. But I guess that's what makes it exciting. It's the great thing about being involved in something that you're so passionate about.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... Certainly the best moment so far was going live at Wembley. Realising something you've worked on for so long and then seeing others using it, and more importantly enjoying it, is extremely satisfying.

An introduction to Sportlobster on Vimeo.


April 2013.

Arabella Dymoke

MD

Arabella is an information junkie, when she's not surfing the web to fuel her habit, she's devouring the latest cookery trends

FIND OUT MORE