Sportable: Adam Dewji and Aya Ahmad

Co-founder Adam Dewji explains why you can't launch on intuition alone and how, by combining dreams with strategy, they make a winning business team

Names: Adam Dewji and Aya Ahmad
Company name: Sportable
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 11/05/15 
Website: www.sportableapp.com 

Tell us what your business does:

Sportable is a mobile app that helps people organise and discover local sporting activities and connect with people who want to play the same sport, through location based searches.

Everyone is so time constrained that Aya Ahmad, Sportable’s co-founder, and I want to save people the hassle associated with organising a sporting activity. By connecting people with nearby facilities and new players, we help our users overcome the issues associated with organising sports, so they can focus their efforts on doing what they really love – playing sport.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

We’ve both played sport all of our lives and know from first-hand experience how stressful it can be to organise activities. This is largely due to it being so difficult to find nearby facilities and available players, or having to cancel a game because of last-minute dropouts.

While many people enjoy playing sports as opposed to going to the gym or for a run, they avoid doing so because of the levels of organisation and time needed to do it well. Sportable solves these problems.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Our friends and families are all really sporty and we knew we weren’t the only ones in need of a new method for organising and discovering sport. But we weren’t about to set up a business based on intuition.

We conducted in depth market research, which highlighted that 75% of people found organising sport time-consuming and, more importantly, 91% of people said they would use an app to make organising sport easier. With the market demand clear, we knew we were onto a winner with Sportable.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was working in business development, while Aya had only just finished her Masters in Real Estate Economics and Finance.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Aya and I have always had our hearts set on starting our own business. We work so well together because we bring such different strengths to the business. I’m the ideas man and Aya is the strategic thinker. Together we make an incredibly strong team.

How did you raise the money?

Raising money to get your start-up off the ground can be tricky as many early stage companies don’t turnover profits in the short-term.

We managed to get an introduction to an experienced tech investor who at the time was interested in sport innovation. We secured the funding through our vision and the strength of our team. We are now about to start our next funding round to take the business to the next level.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Sportable is a free app and we want to keep it that way, so we will be looking to monetise the app without compromising the user experience or passing this expense on to our users in any way.

Our first priority is to grow our user base. We want to be the home of recreational sport and the go-to place for anyone looking to organise or discover activities. Although our current focus is on the UK, it’s a concept that can be replicated internationally, and we’re looking for international investment so we can expand quickly overseas.

The next step is all about the venues – we’ve got a huge database of facilities and once we’ve got the users on board, the demand for online bookings will be exponential. Many venues rely on completely outdated systems for taking bookings and we want to bring these booking systems into the 21st century. By connecting venues directly with users, we will be the place to come to organise activities from start to finish.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

As with any community based start-up, the number one challenge is to get people using your product. We’ve got a large network of sports enthusiasts who jumped on Sportable the moment we launched and are spreading the word like wildfire.

We’re also investing in marketing and social media to ensure we get as many people as possible signed up and experiencing the benefits that Sportable brings.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Our first breakthrough came right after we launched because it confirmed that Sportable is a valuable service to those with an active lifestyle. The overall feedback and response has been overwhelming and given us that extra motivation to keep improving the platform by listening to our users.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Keep things simple and test, test, test! And for those starting up in London – make the most of collaborative work environments. There are some great spaces available such as We Work and the Tobacco Dock. You never know who you’re going to meet and how they may help you take your business to the next level.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We want to be a global brand and the go-to tool for all sports enthusiasts.

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