New MatchDay app lets sports fans play along in real time

App creates a valuable channel for advertisers to reach sports viewers, says creators

 MatchDay founders Dylan Scully and Johnny Deane. The company is aiming to raise €750,000 to fund the launch, scaling and marketing of its platform

MatchDay founders Dylan Scully and Johnny Deane. The company is aiming to raise €750,000 to fund the launch, scaling and marketing of its platform

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Johnny Deane and Dylan Scully are the cofounders of live sports gaming startup, MatchDay. “Traditional fantasy sports don’t allow fans to play along in real time. With MatchDay fans make predictions about what they think is going to happen as they watch the game, earn points for their correct predictions and compete against friends and other fans to win prizes,” Deane explains.

 The business is just nine months up and running and was founded by recent graduates Deane and Scully in September last year. Deane studied business and economics while Scully studied physics. Their paths crossed when they shared the same student accommodation.

 “Dylan and I noticed that no matter what sport was being played we were always on our phones while watching it,” Deane says. “Having played fantasy sports we thought it would be cool to create a game that fans could play live while watching a match.

 “Our product isn’t disruptive as such, it’s more a progression in terms of how people watch live sport,” he adds. “But by capturing people’s attention on mobile we can create a valuable channel for advertisers to reach sports viewers in a more meaningful way. At the moment sports advertisers are not seeing the returns on their investment because they are spending on advertising for live broadcasts when all the attention is really on mobile.”  

Funding

MatchDay has received funding of €120,000 to date from a combination of €65,000 in competitive start funding from Enterprise Ireland, an investment of €20,000 by Trinity College and the rest from three angel investors.

The company is based at Trinity’s research and innovation centre and in 2016 the founders took part in the college’s LaunchBox incubator for student entrepreneurs. This is a 12-week bootcamp that helps participants get their business to a point where they can start looking for seed funding.

Since its launch five years ago, LaunchBox has supported 40 start-ups (including social enterprise Foodcloud) which between them have raised over €6 million in funding and now employ 35 people.

 “LaunchBox was definitely instrumental in helping us to pin down our idea and get funding,” says Deane. “We were fresh out of college and knew nothing about starting a business. LaunchBox introduced us to successful entrepreneurs and to potential investors and really helped us bring our business model together.” The company is now looking to raise €750,000 to fund the launch, scaling and marketing of its platform.

 MatchDay apps are available for Android and iOS and fans play for free. The company will make its money by charging advertisers to feature on its games.

“We see our route as partnering with the existing sponsors of teams and events as they are already invested,” Deane says.

Emphasis on North America

The company’s market is global with a particular emphasis on North America where game in play is a relatively new phenomenon. The growth of in play has been enabled by the rapid development of mobile technology and Deane says it now accounts for between 50 and 80 per cent of sports betting turnover in Ireland the UK.

 “We are currently running private beta tests and expect to add GAA and more soccer games to the platform from August on,” says Deane. “For the Six Nations we ran a test where we gave away a signed Irish rugby jersey to the fan who topped the overall leader board at the end of the competition. We’re hoping to be running games consistently across all major sports by the end of 2017.

“People can sign up on our website and we’ll notify them once we are running a game. With everything going to plan the business should be generating revenue in early 2018. We’re seeing some competition emerging in the US but we are one of the earliest in this space in Europe and we intend to take full advantage of that.” 

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