Give us a bit of a guide on who RacketPal are, and what your main mission is.
RacketPal is a team of young people that would do anything to help people become and stay more active. It started out of the need of finding suitable racket sports partners, but it has now evolved into something much more than that. We understand now that people become easily demotivated to stay active, so that’s our mission. To create the biggest and most engaged community of racket sports players.
What was the chief influence behind your founding?
We have proven strong initial metrics even during a time of pandemic and after lockdowns have ended so we wanted to scale faster and create an even bigger community. And for this you need capital, marketing, and development.
What would you say is the biggest advantage RacketPal has over its competitors?
That is an interesting question. RacketPal is the newest player on the market in the UK when it comes to “sports matchmaking platforms”. All our competitors were in the market for a longer time than us, but even so, we’ve surpassed them 6 months after launch in terms of community and user base. The biggest advantage we’ve had was that we created this product first and foremost for us. I am an ex-pro tennis player and Bogdan, my cofounder, a squash player. We understand exactly the pain points of any racket sports player, and this made things a bit easier I think when starting out. Another important advantage is the complementarity between myself, a digital marketing person, and Bogdan, an app development expert. We had everything we needed in the beginning just between us two.
Talk to us a bit about the technology behind RacketPal, and how it helps connect players.
I think Bogdan would be a much better person to answer any questions about technology. I am not nearly as technical as he is, but the principle is quite simple. You sign up, create a profile where we ask you a few questions that help us establish your skill level, and then off you go pretty much. We suggest suitable matches for you, so literally in a few minutes, you are able to find a very good match via the app.
And RacketPal helps connect players and coaches too, right?
Yes, we currently have 300 coaches registered on the app as well. Although this is not our main business, we try to provide a 360 experience to our users so they stay on the app and find everything they need, from coaches to local clubs and courts, partners, leagues etc.
Friendship apps seem to be an increasingly popular way of connecting people in society, did RacketPal take inspiration from that?
If by “friendship apps” you mean the likes of Tinder and Bumble, then, of course, we are looking at what they are doing and trying to learn a few things from them when it comes to CRM and product, but we are not a “friendship” app at the end of the day. What we do have in common is that we connect people with each other, we matchmake them based on their common hobbies – in this case racket sports.
Do you think the popularity of racket sports in the UK is on the rise?
Yes. Racket sports are on the rise globally, not only in the UK. Tennis, badminton and table tennis are in the top 8 most popular sports in the world with more than 700 million participants. The past 2 years have seen a surge in popularity not only for the main racket sports, but if you look at padel, pickleball and racquetball you see big increases in participation, with tens of millions of players. It’s absolutely incredible and we are very happy about it. They are very fun at the same time.
Give us a bit of an insight into the working environment at RacketPal. It must be a fun and fast-paced atmosphere?
We are all fully remote so we meet every 4-5 months so that we spend some time face to face together as well and have fun. I think this question would be much better answered by anyone else from the team but myself, as being the co-founder of RacketPal I am of course a bit biased. I do hope that it’s fun for the team as well, I am trying my best to make it every day as motivating and as fun as I can, to be honest. I am still learning how to be a better manager and striving to become a real leader one day, but I think I’m not quite there yet.
What do you think the future holds for sports players looking to organise games and tournaments? Is it all moving towards digital methods?
Well, they can do that in a second through our app already. We’ve recently launched a new feature called Leagues, and people can take part in local leagues and play against other same level players in ladder-type competitions. We’ve had over 50 leagues in the past month with 10 or more players in each one of them. The future is digital, it will become easier and easier to organise any sport activity, not only racket sports ones.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings for RacketPal?
We are looking to raise a new funding round soon. We’ve reached almost 50k registered users mainly in London, a big increase over the past 6 months, so we’ve got big plans ahead. We want to get to 300k users in the UK until 2023 and continuously focus on engagement. We want to start personalising the user experience even more with some health integrations, but I don’t want to say too much about this yet.