Start-up of the week: MyLocalPitch

8 May 2017

MyLocalPitch co-founder and CEO, Jamie Foale. Image: MyLocalPitch

Our start-up of the week is MyLocalPitch, a sports instant booking platform.

“Our mission is providing a streamlined gateway to grassroots sports for the benefit of users and facilities alike,” explained MyLocalPitch CEO and co-founder, Jamie Foale.

The user-friendly app enables grassroots players to search for and instantly book facilities on the move throughout major cities in the UK and Ireland.

‘MyLocalPitch’s ultimate goal is to be the world’s leading instant booking platform for sports facilities, creating an ecosystem that removes the hassle of organising sport’

“The website and app allow users to browse 17 different sports, book facilities online and manage bookings through mobile.”

The market

“Our market is the grassroots sports space, which incorporates sports players as well as venues based in London, Manchester and Dublin,” Foale explained.

“The age range for our users is typically between 16 and 40 years old, however, we also take bookings for anything from kids parties to walking football.

“The taxi, travel and takeaway industries have grown beyond recognition by providing a simple way to order services.

“The grassroots sports scene is perfectly placed to capitalise on the shift in user behaviour that wants everything instantly. There is huge potential to be realised, which will get more people regularly active, and grassroots facilities will benefit from greater revenues.”

The founders

Foale and his co-founder, CFO Sandford Loudon, were both involved in tech-based companies before establishing MyLocalPitch.

“I set up and sold the Leeds Agenda, a company that provided a directory for university-based activities and information about the campus, which sold advertising to local businesses.

Loudon co-founded a car-sharing platform called Grallo.

“We met at school and remain good friends and, while organising sport after leaving university, we identified a gap in the market.”

The technology

Start-up of the week: MyLocalPitch

Image: MyLocalPitch

According to Foale, discovery platforms such as MyLocalPitch work best when there is existing software to link into.

“MyLocalPitch’s success has been derived from forging relationships with the best operator of sports venues in the UK, as well as giving venues the ability to take online bookings through their own software.

“MyLocalPitch’s ultimate goal is to be the world’s leading instant booking platform for sports facilities, creating an ecosystem that removes the hassle of organising sport. First, we are concentrating on the UK, but then attention will turn to overseas where we have had interest from exciting territories like South Africa and from across the Atlantic.”

Scoring goals

Foale said that MyLocalPitch is experiencing double-digit, month-on-month growth.

“This is likely to accelerate further with the release of our instant booking app and expanding our service into Manchester.

“The team is in place to keep building on our successes to date and hit the goals set for 2017.

“We’ve got finance from some of the leading names in the business and are well positioned to undertake another fundraising round this year to implement our growth strategy.”

The key is enabling grassroots participants such as volunteers to get on the platform quickly and easily.

“Grassroots sports is only beginning to embrace technology and it’s vital we work together to provide the best possible service.

“Another issue is the fragmented nature of the industry. Some venues have an online presence, others do to a degree on different technology platforms, and a number have yet to migrate online at all. There are many people working part-time and [as] volunteers, which makes the hours irregular.

“Creating an online grassroots community makes it simpler for everyone to interact,” Foale added.

Foale said that the great thing about setting up a company in London, where MyLocalPitch is headquartered, is that you speak with people on a daily basis who have been there and done it.

“There’s a great community, whether it’s down at Google Campus, at a Capital List event, or on the roof at the Queen of Hoxton, where you can meet interesting people who are keen to help.”

His advice for fellow founders is to double what you expect to spend on technology and make sure you hire the right people.

“Everyone goes through growing pains when building systems and networks for the first time but if you don’t have talented people, then it will take at least twice as long.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years