My F.C. walked away with first prize, winning $15,000 and a trip to San Francisco. Born out of founders Sam Jenkins, Mike Simpson and Sam Jasper’s frustrations at having to use upwards of 15 different websites, apps and mediums to run their football-centric lives. They started thinking of the 300 million other amateur footballers around the world facing similar frustrations, and with that the idea for the world’s first fully digital football platform was conceived. By constantly switching between the roles of creator and consumer, they were able to identify the common pain points that players, parents, coaches and club administrators were battling with on a daily basis and implement those solutions on one digital platform. The company’s tagline sums it up best: “made for footballers, by footballers.”
My F.C. solves the problem of the administrative side of football largely consisting of double handling, paper-based, time-intensive methods of data collection and fragmented communication channels, which leads to errors and inefficiencies at both the amateur and professional levels. It uses integrated cloud-based software to support the entire football life cycle, interlinking the management of teams, clubs, academies (and potentially national bodies) with crowd-sourced and independently validated data, enabling automated online collaboration.
Launched in Aotearoa on Valentine’s Day, Jenkins says he’s pretty excited by the Start-Up Alley win. “We’re absolutely stoked,” he says. “You don’t know what the judges are thinking and the other contestants were really strong. It was our first pitching competition and people don’t realise how much work goes into it.”
He also says he’s pretty excited to get to America. “We’ll hopefully be able to get a few meetings with investors and advice on how to enter the American market.”
Simpson is also excited. “We all love football, hence why we created My F.C. where we are the customer as much as the creator,” he says. “It’s for footballers by footballers and we’d love the opportunity to share our passion in the United States – a market flush with capital and a growing interest in soccer.”
Held at the St James Theatre in Wellington, Start-Up Alley also gave out runner-up and bonus prize awards. GenoaPay was named runner-up, winning $7,500 and like My F.C. also earning a trip to San Francisco. A payment platform that allows consumers to receive goods or services and pay for them over time without interest or the need to apply for a loan or new credit card, GenoaPay founder and CEO Shaun Quincey says he has no complaints about how his company did. “We’re delighted to have won second place,” he says. “This helps validate the business opportunity and traveling to the US will enable us to meet potential partners and test how to scale the business.”
Collaborate, a six-woman team from Wellington, won a bonus prize of $2,500 and day with BNZ’s UX team, for their mobile app that matches young people with volunteer opportunities that are relevant to their skills and interests. The other Start-Up Alley finalists were CLVR, Curtis and DataTag. Judges for the evening were Melissa Clark-Reynolds, PledgeMe co-founder Anna Guenther, CD Baby founder Derek Sivers, and BNZ director of products and technology David Bullock.
Bullock says the finalists are a reflection of the New Zealand start-up scene as a whole. “It was a really hard decision [to pick a winner],” he says. “I’m excited to see such great talent in New Zealand and looking forward to what they all achieve.”
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