Head to Head: Alexander Varmuza from Sportside
Based at the Wood Centre for Innovation (WCFI), Sportside is developing the go-to app and website for sports. We went head-to-head with CEO and Founder, Alexander (Xan) Varmuza.
Want to find someone to go running with while away on a business trip? Or to play a game of squash? Looking for someone to play tennis while on holiday in Spain? This the scenario that Xan faced and it got him thinking about sports networking. Five years later, he is about to launch Sportside – an app and a website – for the sports community so that you can find someone for a game – any sport, anytime, anywhere. “The idea”, says Xan, “is that it is a local, global sports club for enthusiasts to communicate and meet their match”.
The app will help you find a sports partner to play tennis or golf, dance or go running – in fact, any sport or activity you can think of. You will also be able to find sports events, competitions and facilities, and register, book and pay. It will be free for all to use and you’ll even be able to set up your own sports group to get games organised. In short, it will be the all-inclusive, one-stop shop for sports and activities.
The Sportside app will be launched during Freshers’ Week in September at universities all over the UK. They will use student ambassadors to set up Sportside societies and get people using the app.The app also enables users to find other players of similar ability, Xan explains “Currently players will be rated 1 to 5 but we would like to move to official ratings for each sport – for instance golfers will display their handicap. We might also introduce a rating by other players for individual sports”.
The Sportside web-based club platform and CRM will provide sports club with a website to enable them to fully manage their club and teams, promote their facilities, competitions and events and all will be synced with the app. The Sportside app and website will also work like Groupon for sports marketers -– so that you can get tickets to big events as well as buy the latest trainers and receive exclusive special offers, promotions and deals.
Sportside has been funded by the founder, a couple of angel investors and has recently raised a seed investment round from a VC company. Future income streams will come from in-app payments and revenue from advertising. Sportside will be raising their next round of investment in the New Year.
Xan is an enthusiastic tennis player and is a member of a cricket team – in Cambridge! In South Africa he set up a personal fitness and training centre called On Your Bike at same time as starting Sportside. The Sportside idea was researched and tested at the University of Oxford and Southampton and is now in the final stages of development. “Our mission”, says Xan “it is to increase and improve physical fitness and health across the globe”.
What’s their biggest challenge for the next year? “Well, we’re launching in September so that’s a big hurdle to jump”. “But” Xan says “finding the right team is key to success. We are currently an in-house team of five with all the tech-y side of the business outsourced to a company in Pakistan”. He has located at WCFI in Oxford – partly because he lives in nearby Chinnor – but also being in the city is a good recruiting ground for staff and interns.
We wish Sportside the best of luck with their upcoming launch.
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