The morphing of sports, technology and gaming has delivered the Sports Techie community blog a start-up company in San Francisco that goes by the name, iSoccer. Scott Leber, CEO and Founder, iSoccer, spoke to me about their pioneering sports tech business model and his recently launched second phase of funding that will meet the current demands of growth and seize the sport business opportunity in their sports tech niche.
Over 150,000 players and 30,000 teams have logged more than 67 million skill touches on the ball since 2010 using the website and Play iSoccer mobile app. This Industry leading sports company, is a digital training platform is to team sports and soccer what Strava, Endomondo and MapMyFitness have become for individual activities like running, cycling and hiking.
They have had over 2,234,000 challenges taken and 78,000 levels raised. Since 2010, iSoccer with its website PlayiSoccer.com and digital app have been used by over 30,000 teams in all 50 states. iSoccer empowers kids around the world to improve their soccer skills through technology, has launched its second round of funding to accelerate growth.
“We’ve seen platforms like Strava, Endomondo, MapMyFitness and Nike’s running application surge in popularity for a variety of individual activities including running, cycling, even hiking,” said Scott Leber, CEO of iSoccer. “I believe we can do that in the team space – starting in soccer – by challenging, motivating and providing a platform for kids and teams to improve and connect.”
With their second phase of growth, iSoccer is positioned to take advantage of the increasing popularity of social connectedness within sports, allowing friends and teammates to challenge each other at various games, and earn badges and points in different skills categories – all while improving their performance on the field. They can also share photos, compare skills and scores.
Since launching in 2010, the startup has brought some of their development in-house and moved more into mobile with the approach of “turning practice into games” for their young users.
“Following a complete re-design and re-launch of our core product last fall, we are focusing on this second growth phase for our company,” said Leber. “We are moving more and more into mobile, emphasizing the social connectedness of sports that has become so prevalent, and looking to expand into new markets and other team sports.”
iSoccer’s next round of growth will help accomplish three key initiatives:
1) Grow the mobile product team & continue to improve the mobile experience
2) Build on its platform to provide more challenges, more data and more unique games
3) Internationalize and expand into other sports
“We’re very proud of the participation numbers we’ve achieved during our first several years,” said Leber, “but now is the time for our product to reach greater scale.” As part of the fundraising efforts, iSoccer has launched on I-Bankers Direct, the online funding portal that provides investors with online access to small-cap growth companies and investment opportunities. “I-Bankers Direct will help us broaden & diversify our investors, accelerate our fund raising and open new doors,” said Leber.
Sports Techie, I like blogging about stories and trends that touch on the juncture of sports and technology – especially the fast trending sportsbiz movement into the exploding mobile device market. Youth players went from spending about two minutes per day using the iSoccer native app to a whooping eight minutes per day on average. What that means is kids are practicing skill development outside of practice while interfacing with iSoccer mobile.
I noticed iSoccer data signified that girls, from the time they are youngsters to past high school age, have quicker foot speed on average than boys. Because of these compelling numbers, my eight-month old son will soon begin developing quick feet because that may be the key for boys to help master any game but especially soccer.
I asked whether their proprietary software had “Artificial Intelligence” coded into the iSoccer solution. Scott told me they do use, “AI technology” and have uploaded 500 videos from 2009 to 2010, from levels 1-3 that their software recommends to beginner users in order to help with initial skill level development. This virtual service can be scaled out as soon as the second round of financing comes through with the help of I-Bankers Direct and private investors.
I asked whether iSoccer was involved with U.S. Soccer, the Olympic Development Program and other youth football organizations in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Their company has a new partnership in development with Soccer.com that will offer online gifts and swag such as balls, cleats and technology products so that iSoccer players can go offline and practice while earning badge achievements. Look for relationships with state soccer associations, the NFCA, possibly the MLS, and major European football leagues, in the near future.
After fund raising success, new sports will be developed such as basketball, hockey and lacrosse. His startup has six engineers and designers on the product team but need to hire more staff to meet the demands of growth and to seize the opportunity to corner the sports digital training platform market.
Gamification is at the core of their mission and the iSoccer Trainer. Boys and girls are challenging teammates to iSoccer skill challenges. Uploading pictures and using social media are other key product features kids love to engage with. Big Data is certainly generated by the mobile app however they do not currently collect and analyze any player data to date but that could change because partners may want to drill down and find out statistics about user peak times, ages and any possible uses as a recruiting tool.
The push for International growth involves the localization of their solution in languages such as Spanish, German and Japanese. China is a country they are looking into next in terms of impacting their digitally savvy youth audience.
I asked about a company exit strategy and he responded that, “Being acquired is certainly something we will listen to after scaling the business further and executing our business plan.” We discussed the recent acquisition of MapMyFitness by Under Armour for $150 million as an example of how they are thinking when it comes to a buyout.
I truly enjoyed chatting and interviewing Scott. He played varsity men’s soccer at Stanford and is an original Sports Techie with proven entrepreneurial talents. If you have the $1.5 million dollars to invest in iSoccer, do it yesterday because this company is about to explode into other sports and nations.
Sports Techie community kids, parents and coaches can sign up for iSoccer and take 40 percent off the price by using computer code “newplayer” when you sign up for a new account.
The want to build an Android app as soon as funding comes through and the new hires are complete. Download the free App Store iOS iSoccer app here and get started advancing your soccer skill levels immediately and over the long-term.
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