Our tech start-up to watch this week is RigBag.com, a new website that will soon be launching with the aim of being a global social platform for the action and extreme sports community so they can share stories, ask questions and sell and swop equipment.
Randall Wharton founded RigBag in 2011, but he says that the idea had been floating around in his head for about two years. Shortly after starting the venture, he brought on Frank Hannigan as a mentor.
“After a few months, Frank liked the company so much, he joined as Chairman. Earlier this year, Neil Kenealy joined us as CTO,” says Wharton, whose own background is in project management and business development.
"In the past I founded start-ups in the telecoms and retail areas,” he says.
According to Wharton, RigBag is going to be all about community.
“We are bringing the action sports community together to leverage value and share information. Action and extreme sports are expensive, and information about them is hard to come by – we want to change that.”
He says that RigBag, when it launches, will be a subscription-based platform to allow action sports athletes to buy, sell and swop equipment, share stories, ask questions, book extreme holidays, and socialise.
“We want to become the biggest and best action sports community in the world, and make it easier for people to enjoy the sports they love,” says Wharton.
So where is the site at right now?
He says the plan is to initially launch a beta test site with 200 or so test customers in September. These test users will be mainly athletes and sports companies in the US.
“Once we are happy the platform is stable, we will do a full US and UK launch.”
Wharton says the company’s target markets will initially be the US, especially the west coast there, as well as the UK. “After that Europe and after that the world! We have a global vision for RigBag.”
He claims that the site has had a great pre-launch buzz so far. “We have a huge social media following that is very active.”
Coincidentally RigBag won the Cork heat of the Blueface Elevator Business competition and was one of the nine finalists that pitched in the ultimate competition in Dublin yesterday.
In terms of mentoring, Wharton says that the team at CorkBIC has been helping the company with business planning, while he bootstrapped the business with his own cash.
“Late last year we received a small grant from Kerry County Enterprise Board. More recently we have been receiving help from Enterprise Ireland. We are currently talking to investors, and we’ve had interest from quite a few.”
As regards challenges when setting up, Wharton says that as with many Irish start-ups, funding is a big issue.
“You can waste a lot of time talking to the wrong people. We have also had technical challenges to overcome, but we have managed to find solutions to most of these at this stage.”
And, finally, his advice for other self-starters is simply to follow their dream.
“Use the great days to get you through the hard ones, and keep driving forwards. Network as much as possible; someone you know will always know someone who can help you, and never be afraid to ask.”