So if you’re a football fan that love voicing your opinion around your favourite team, player, a place where you can interact with fans like yourself or just a little Bantr against your local rivals then Bantr is your place.
Bantr gives football fans an interactive environment to follow live games, a place where users are able to check in to games, vote on manager decisions also allowing fans to rate their club’s manager and players, earn points for predicting match results and, most importantly, share their thoughts on every match.
Today I speak with the CEO of the startup - Peter McCormack.
Hi Peter, How are you doing, great to have you on YHP?
Hi Joseph, I am doing great thanks; we appreciate you guys wanting to feature us. How are you all? I see you just launched your first issue, congratulations.
Thanks Peter, We’re doing well - the magazine launch was amazing, the response has really been encouraging.
Could you quickly give us some background information about yourself?
I have worked in digital media now for 14 years on the side of agencies. I setup my current agency with my business partner Molly Morrison 2 years ago and now have a team of 16. We wanted to give clients a different relationship with their agency built on an open relationship and good solid digital marketing.
How did you get involved in entrepreneurship? Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child?
I suppose it is something that has always been in me. When I was 14 I setup a music fanzine, I used to interview bands, print the fanzine and give it away at gigs. I never made any money but I always loved the feeling of owning and running something.
When I first started working in digital media I would freelance which helped me maintain the control over my daily work but I realised that I needed to experience a corporate environment to understand all aspects of running a business.
I joined an agency in Bedford called Evolving Media as an Account Manager and under the mentorship of Martin Scovell I worked my way up to Managing Director.
So tell me about Bantr and how the idea came about?
Bantr is a social network for football where we collect and aggregate the opinions of fans. We developed the idea last season when Liverpool were struggling. Molly is a huge Liverpool fan and every morning I would hear complaints about the poor job that Roy Hodgson was doing.
When we searched on Twitter people were complaining about him and calling for his head. What we realized is that there is no central index of fan opinion on managers and this Bantr was born.
What is Bantr and how does it work?
Bantr is focused on the live environment. We give fans a real time match experience by integrating match commentary, fan opinion and conversation. Users are also able to interact with the game by picking the team they would play, predicting the outcome and voting on match actions such as penalty and sending off decisions.
What is your business model?
Our focus at the moment is growth and product stability but we are also modeling revenue around media, gaming and ecommerce. We have found that we have a product which fits well with advertisers and media businesses, because of this we have found that doors are opening for us quite easily.
What makes Bantr different from any service out there? What problem does it solve?
Football fans are highly opinionated and we pull their opinions together to give an aggregated view of what fans think about their team, manager and players.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
The most important thing we did was build a launch audience. Launching a social network can be difficult in the early days as there is no critical mass. We made sure we had more than 3,000 registered pre launch so that when we had our first games there were enough users to make the experience interesting.
Would you say the business has changed from the first initial idea?
The idea has not changed too much from our original concept. We are still only 5 months old and we haven’t lived in the live environment long enough to require significant change. What we will now focus on is simplifying the product and improving the user experience.
Who are your competitors?
Our direct competitors are Sofanatics and Fanatix but really we also compete with Facebook and Twitter for share of voice.
What were you doing before you founded Bantr?
I was running McCormack & Morrison and I still am. I don’t take a salary from Bantr so McCormack & Morrison pays the bills hence while at 10pm I am doing things like this interview J
How have you been able to fund the business?
We raised a seed fund of over £200k from angel investor to build the prototype, launch and prove a need in the market. We are now looking to raise a series A fund to accelerate product development and commercial opportunities.
What can we be expecting from your company in 2012?
We will continue to focus on improving the customer experience both in features and platform development. Out next big project is to build a mobile product to allow those at the game or watching in the pub to engage with other Bantr users.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
1. Whatever your product or business is keep it simple.
2. Make sure you have good people around you (partners or mentors)
3. Don’t be afraid to fail, you will learn from all your mistakes