Statzpack: Mark Roberts
The Statzpack founder on starting his niche sports statistics company
Company name: Statzpack Website:www.statzpack.com Founders: Mark Roberts Age: 42 Based: UK & Ireland Staff Numbers: 4+ Date started: 1/9/08
Tell us what your business does We have built a coaching tool for grassroots soccer teams that gives them the ability to capture stats using an iPod or iPhone – and all the data goes up to a website so it can be shared, stored and analysed. It’s very clever yet simple, and low in cost. We have had some incredible early adoption from professional outfits, including the leading MLS team Houston Dynamo. And we are gaining traction at the grassroots and coaching community each day.
How did you know there was a market for it? Players, coaches and supporters all love stats. The type of stats that fill the web, TV and newspapers are fully desired by the regular player and coach of teams at all levels. So why not provide a tool, that doesn’t cost the earth where teams can build their own stats? It’s primarily for coaching and player development, and also to raise the standard in the game of what and how data is kept. Our ‘technology’ is attractive, simple to use and non-threatening. We are not trying to replace anyone and what we seek is to add value.
What were you doing before starting up? I was working in our consultancy business Xcell Partners, where we work with early stage technology start-ups – something which I still help out with. I coached youth soccer in the USA and am a mental football fan. Prior to that I worked in the tech sector in the USA and Europe in business development. I didn’t have to leave a job, I had to become adept at doing two jobs.
What planning did you do before you started up?I sought as much advice as I could. I put together a full market evaluation exercise to see if there was a true demand and positioned the product. Technically we had to go through many similar stages to see what was possible, and more appropriate – what was technically possible that would both be affordable and adopted by the consumer. You never stop researching and digging.
How did you raise the money? So far I have financed the business with a combination of my own money, plus investment from friends and family. I have been approached by a number of people offering to invest, but right now I prefer to run on our own cashflow and attract the right investor at the right time. I haven’t been rejected, but that is only because I haven’t asked enough people. Getting turned down by investors is a rite of passage.
What has your growth been like? We are exactly where our business plan said we would be, but we are driven to keep going. We’re not profitable, but that’s on the radar for next year.
What’s the impact on your home life been like? Home life has been affected quite a lot but it’s better than being affected by the possible negative things we all have to deal with at some time in our life, like illness, redundancy etc.
What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up? The greatest challenge is getting people involved and behind you on an ongoing basis. It’s your idea, you need to spread the enthusiasm.
What was your first big breakthrough?Our first big breakthrough was having an English Premiership team find us and sign up. We knew as they started to use it that it had true appeal and that it worked out in the field. Their feedback was incredible.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time? I want to see someone else run the business. I foresee the system growing to encompass more sports – we have Gaelic football covered, and rugby union in development for example.