Pitchero: Mark Fletcher and Jon Milsom
Entrepreneur Mark Fletcher on how he started the social network for sports teams
Company Name: Pitchero
Founders: Mark Fletcher & Jon Milsom
Age: 23 & 22
Staff Numbers: 4
Date started: July 2007
Turnover: Projected Y1 £150,000
Tell us what your business does…
Pitchero is a free social network dedicated to semi-professional and amateur sports clubs. Pitchero provides clubs with a professional, feature-rich website which is fully integrated within the Pitchero social network.
Players, coaches, club officials, parents and supporters can join and share videos and photos of their team in action, message each other and collect friends. Plus Pitchero offers club officials management tools such as group emails, email marketing and document sharing.
Above all, Pitchero collects the latest stats from teams within the community, enabling it to compare every player regardless of age or standard and creating the first nation-wide statistics database.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Sat in my room at Loughborough University I was using facebook, youtube and skysports.com every day. But my club website back home was never up-to-date. It seemed obvious to build a platform which took all the great elements of social networking and create a bespoke platform specifically for semi professional and amateur sports clubs.
Since then the concept has grown and grown. Pitchero now works with a number of leading professional clubs and sports associations to deliver the latest sports coaching information.
What were you doing before starting up?
Both Jon and I were undergraduates. Jon was at Nottingham reading Physics. I was at Loughborough reading Economics with Politics. We graduated in June 2007 and started work on Pitchero the next day.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes. I just can't imagine giving my '40 hours' to someone else.
How did you raise the money?
So far we have raised significant angel investment. Following graduation we sent emails to sports media agencies based in Yorkshire. Through this networking we were introduced to our angel investors.
How did you find suppliers?
The hardest thing is finding quality developers to join the team. Experienced coders are in short supply and can demand a very high wage. I am constantly searching for new people to join the team.
What challenges have you faced?
Building the platform itself has been a huge challenge. We have developed a major piece of software which is scalable to millions of users. Jon, the CTO, has to take most of the credit for this. But we have both shared sleepless nights.
How have you promoted your business?
Online marketing is big for us. We have experimented with press advertising, but you need a big budget. Marketing is a major headache and requires just as much energy as developing the platform itself. Never underestimate how hard marketing is.