The key to winning is resilience: Lessons from myKicks CEO Andrew Hall
At the Australian Sports Analytics Conference 2018, Co-Founder and CEO of myKicks, Andrew Hall, explained what it takes to launch a global startup.
From 0 to #1 – the myKicks story
A global startup born and raised in Perth, myKicks uses world first technology to turn any football into a smart ball. Using augmented reality (AR), the myKicks app allows users to film their penalty kicks, which are then analysed in terms of how fast the shot was, where it crossed the goal line and the probability that the user would strike against a professional goalkeeper. Fans then compare their stats in virtual tournaments with other users and see how they rank against football legends such as Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar.
Downloaded more than 65,000 times within three months of launch, the myKicks app houses the world’s largest database of amateur kicks. It topped the sports app store in the UK within two weeks and has since overtaken the official FIFA app in the app store. myKicks has raised $2M in seed funding and are in the process of raising an additional $1 million in a ‘bridge-to-Series-A’ raise.
With an unwavering commitment to delivering engaging fan experiences, myKicks co-founder and experienced VC Andrew Hall shares his essential elements for startup success:
An Exceptional Team
For myKicks, having an exceptional team means being open and transparent with each other.
“We work using the agile process, so we agree on shared priorities for the team and for two days everyone will give absolutely everything they have to the shared goals”, says Hall.
This ‘laser focus’ is also reflected in myKicks’ approach to new product development. There are longer-term plans to expand into Basketball and Cricket, and the platform has potential in many sports, but as Hall points out, startups have to be about focus. Distraction can be your undoing.
“Right now, we’re about focus, so we’re sticking with football and developing longer range kicks. We’re working to make the myKicks fan experience the best it can be”, says Hall.
With myKicks small internal team, Hall says having the right advisors for your startup are everything. They will save you time, money and heartache.
An Engaged Community
So much of startup success relies on being able to find your own community - or building your own around your brand. The key for myKicks has been to build a cause and a movement around what they’re trying to achieve.
“Our value to the myKicks community is that we make it as cheap as possible to access and share data. We’ve also introduced branding opportunities into the app through augmented reality which adds another level to the fan experience”, explains Hall.
Influencers are routinely used to bring new audiences to your platform.
“Early on our strategy was to engage influencers to build our community”, says Hall. Using some of the biggest names in football vlogging – including ChrisMD10 and MiniMinter – myKicks invested in paid influencer relationships which provided a cost-effective way to gain exposure to large audiences aligned to their brand.
“We used top YouTubers with established football-related followers and were able to leverage their platforms to gain momentum. Our influencers have been critical to our success. They’ve really gotten into the spirit of what we’re doing and they’re some of our biggest supporters now.”
Release Early & Release Often
When it comes to product, if you’re not ashamed or slightly embarrassed by the first product you put out into the world, you’ve waited too long.
“You can learn so much from putting cohorts through early versions of your product and measuring their experience”, explains Hall. myKicks used early iterations of the app as data points and stepping stones to an ultimately superior product. “Don’t be scared to bring cohorts of users in and get that brutal feedback”, says Hall.
“People will often tell you what you want to hear, but their data and usage won’t lie. Don’t be afraid to get the honest truth (from the data) early on.”
Perseverance is Everything
Like all startups trying to get off the ground, myKicks have had their share of challenges.
“We’ve definitely had nine lives. We’ve nearly died over and over again, but with a good team and perseverance, you get through”, says Hall.
A near death experience for myKicks came when they invited a group of influential YouTubers to their launch party and the entire myKicks platform went down. This could have spelled the end for myKicks, but the team rallied and got the platform back up and running again.
“The important thing was that we were open and honest [with the influencers] and now they’re some of our best friends and most passionate supporters.”
As a startup, you face repetitive, near death experiences, so what sustains you through the low points? For Hall, it’s all about having an intrinsic passion for what you’re doing.
“It can’t be about money. It has to be about the work. I’m super passionate about startups and sports and everyone in our team shares that passion. If you don’t have that passion, you’ll stall at the first brick wall.”
Hall reiterated the importance of perseverance in his parting advice for startups; “In the digital age, you can access capital and talent from anywhere, and you can get product-market fit from anywhere in the world. Just keep at it.