If you love Tinder and like sports, this could be the perfect app for you

India's first social network exclusively for sports wants to go global.
If you love Tinder and like sports, this could be the perfect app for you
If you love Tinder and like sports, this could be the perfect app for you

It has been a tough phase for football club Manchester United after the club’s longest-serving and most successful manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. With 38 trophies to his credit, the succeeding managers had very high standards to live up to. Three managers later – two fired for underperformance of the team – Manchester United is still struggling to get back on its feet.

It’s not just the team. Times have been rough for Manchester United fans as well. Piyush was one such fan. Unfortunately, there was hardly anyone around for him to share this with. He would go out to watch matches but would find only a handful of supporters supporting the same club. 

What if there was Tinder-like platform where he could find people around him who supported the same clubs, teams and players as him, he wondered. And that’s how the idea for his start-up ‘Rooter’ was born.

Imagine this. Your favourite football game is on. You’re on this platform which is giving you live commentary. There are hundreds of other supporters – and rivals - that you can chat with. Before the match, you can try and predict the outcome – if you’re right, you win a prize. When you’re bored, you can answer quizzes about your favorite sport. And if you don’t understand a sport, or any rule of the game, all you have to do is ask and someone answers your query and explains the rules. That is what Rooter is all about.

Piyush quit his job as the marketing head of Swiss watchmaker Rado India and got together with Soham Sinha – now co-founder and CTO, Rooter - to kick start the idea.

In January 2016, the duo built the product without any funding and put it to test during the 2016 UEFA European Championship. After receiving great response, Rooter raised angel funding from Bollywood star Boman Irani, enabled by Kwan Entertainment, in August. With some cash in hand, Rooter was formally launched in September 2016.

Delhi-based Rooter currently has four sports on its platform – football, cricket, tennis and basketball. The company aims to add 10 sports by the end of this year. It is currently working on a test and launch concept. “We want to go step by step. We added the prediction game first, then the chat feature and live commentary most recently,” he says.

In the past 6 months, Rooter has seen nearly 50,000 downloads with each fan, spending an average of 15 minutes on the app at a stretch. The aim to is cross 5 lakh downloads by July 2017.

Piyush and his team at Rooter.

The next big thing for Rooter is the upcoming IPL series. When the 10th season kicks off this summer in April, the company will begin monetizing its operations. Piyush is banking on his extensive knowledge and experience in the advertising industry to generate revenues and will make advertising its primary revenue stream.

Lead generation will be another revenue stream. Lead generation is a process where you identify and cultivate potential customers for the products and services of a business. For this purpose, the company is looking into tapping the ecommerce industry to identify what users are following and push relevant brands, E-tailers and online ticketing platforms being the main focus. Rooter is already in talks with major brands and is signing on a couple starting IPL 10. Rooter will also open sponsorships starting this IPL season.

A lot hangs on IPL 10 for Rooter. And to fund all of its grand plans, Rooter is currently in the processing of closing a round of seed funding from few investors, which will close by the end of this month.

The next big step for the 16-member Rooter team will be to take this platform offline. “We want to pull fans out of their homes. We’re talking to bars and restaurants to organize events for fans to come engage when any important game is happening,” says Piyush.

Going global is another item on Rooter’s agenda. Though the app is available in certain countries, the company wants to start pushing its app in the South Asian and European markets in the next 2-3 months and is working on building a strong technology team to handle all the traffic. And if all goes well, Rooter aims to break-even in the next 12-18 months.

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