Sportlobster: Tips and tricks on snapping up ambassadors and partners

Despite only launching in April 2013, the sports social network - rivalling American giants Twitter and Facebook - have more more than 1.85m registered users. A one-stop shop for sports fans worldwide, Sportlobster have built a platform that features results, events, news, videos, blogs and a chat functionality. 

We had a chat with co-founder and CEO Andy Meikle to talk about the fast-growth business and he shared his hot tips on how to maximise customer engagement in 2015.

Hi Andy, what were you doing before you co-founded Sportlobster?

I was based in Dubai at the time running a tech company. I was about two-and-a-half years into that project. But with my passion for sport since an early age, the opportunity to make Sportlobster a reality came about and I felt it was time for a new challenge. 

I was reading a blog on Novak Djokovic once which had loads of comments. It then suddenly hit me that there was this great content yet nobody had probably heard of this blog or read it before. We’re providing a one-stop-shop for sports fans.

When did you come up with the idea?

It was December 2011 when I came up with the idea. I dedicated an entire weekend to research and looking at numbers. Off the back of that, I built a financial model and presentation. Then I sat on it for a few months as there was more work to be done in terms of getting funding.

The same week I was offered investment for my previous business in Dubai, Arron Shepherd - who I eventually co-founded Sportlobster with - got in touch. We had a great chat and it went from there!

Why did you choose London as the home of Sportlobster?

Dubai doesn’t have as much of an entrepreneurial spirit, so to speak, like other cities such as London. There’s obviously great tech hubs like San Francisco, New York and Paris but London was where we wanted to be. I lived here for a-year-and-a-half after graduating from university so I was familiar with the surroundings. 

You’ve an impressive list of brand ambassadors including Cristiano Ronaldo and also recently partnered with Premier League club Crystal Palace, was this always the plan?

Yes. By having brand ambassadors like Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Owen, naturally the most followed sport on Sportlobster is Football. It was then important for us to get a partner on board who had the same vision as us. The Premier League is the most followed league in the world and Crystal Palace wanted to improve their social media performance so it made sense. 

You recently moved to your third office and it looks impressive, is this important to you?

We work with loads of ambassadors and athletes so it’s important we create an environment which represents that. When they pop down to our office, it’s important to have an office that represents the brand; we want a sporty office. We don’t want to be a typical 9-5 office, we wanted to show we’re fun and that was the thinking behind the office. 

How important is it to analyse data?

Very. We’ve built this for the fans first and foremost. As fans of the game, we spend a lot of time getting more and more insight into data. It’s really important. Like I’ve said, especially as we’re a product made of multiple functions, it’s important to know where they’re spending the most of their time. We need to know how to improve the functions and reward those customers who spend time using our service. 

Any plans for 2015 you’d like to share?

We’ve a few things planned but can’t announce them yet. We’ve seen huge growth worldwide but a big surge has come from America. With that in mind, we’ve been exploring a few different things. Watch this space!

How can small businesses engage with customers in 2015?

I think there’s two sides to customer engagement. From a social media perspective it’s paramount to engage with customers and answer any queries they may have - especially for us! You’ve got to take the negative feedback on board and use it as an incentive to better your business.

For example, followers on Twitter may ask us questions like “what’s the point of having a sign-on option?” The ability to engage with our audience allows us to reply to them, explain that the sign-on options lets us tailor the service towards their needs and we then have a relationship with that individual. 

The other side is analysing data and understanding what your customers love about the business. By knowing why they’re using the service, you’re able to improve it. It’s also important to have focus groups!

To find out more about Sportlobster, visit www.sportlobster.com

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