F1’s Webber and ex-England star Owen invest to launch sports social network
Sportlobster free iPhone app goes live following backing from sports and TV stars and $1m investment from Wychwood Capital Partners
Sports social network app Sportlobster launches today, following backing from Formula 1’s Red Bull driver Mark Webber and former-England striker Michael Owen, as well as $1m funding round from Luxembourg-based equity firm Wychwood Capital Partners.
Started six months ago by 28-year-old Andy Meikle and 26-year-old Arron Shepherd after the pair met while working in Dubai, the social network for sports obsessives has quickly secured a high profile following.
Inspired after reading a blog about six-time tennis Grand Slam winner and victor in last week’s ATP World Tour Finals Novak Djokovic, Meikle was struck by the enormous number of comments and “the penny dropped”.
He and Meikle subsequently raised seed capital from an angel investor and by April 2013 were employing 23. To build interactivity the standalone service enables users to link their accounts to their Facebook and Twitter profiles.
The Sportlobster app is designed to focus on a user’s sporting preferences, either by sport, team or athlete, with fans having access to blogs, news, photos and events to suit their interests.
Chief operations officer and co-founder Shepherd said the app marks “the first time sports fans on the go can have access to their entire sporting world in one dedicated environment”, with the calendar feature keeping fans up to date on conversations and information surrounding their sporting interests.
Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United footballer Owen described himself as a “regular user” and enthused that the app will allow fans to “have their own voice heard by likeminded fans”.
The scorer of 40 international goals for England added: “While other platforms may allow you to have a voice, Sportlobster offers a dedicated space to discuss real topics in sport. As a regular user I understand the value it can offer and the team is committed to delivering something truly unique to the sporting world. My investment shows belief in that commitment.”
Also backing the site as an ambassador is TV presenter and Formula 1 pit lane reporter for Sky Sports Natalie Pinkham, along with Terry Gibson, who played briefly for Manchester United, but was better known as a diminutive forward for Wimbledon during the Crazy Gang era.
The move to mobile, said founders Meikle and Shepherd, was down to the fact 65% of users access the social network via their smartphones, three-quarters of which are iPhones.
Plans are underway for other native apps and an Android version, with Meikle “delighted with our growth and enthusiasm from the sporting world since we introduced the platform in April”.