We are often asked what inspired us to create Football Matcher, so we thought it was about time we wrote a blog.
Although no code was written or any company formed, Football Matcher really started when I moved to South-East London to live with my brother Steve, now Co-Founder, in 2016.
Being new to the area, I knew no one, except for the few work colleagues in central London. Although I relished finally living in London, I found a big void in my life, football! There were absolutely no opportunities to play either in my local area or near work.
Travelling For 3 Hours Just To Play Football
Like an addict desperate to do anything for his next fix, I found myself commuting for 90 minutes from Woolwich to Watford, just to play footy with my old colleagues from Imagination Technologies. Obviously this was not sustainable, so I began to think about how I could get my fix another way.
Local Football To The Rescue
I discovered a local Facebook group called the Royal Arsenal Connect, which had over 5000 local members. I set up a Royal Arsenal footy group and posted on to the community to see if there were any other addicts like me. Within a few weeks, the group had almost 70 people in it and I was able to start a weekly game at the Woolwich Waterfront indoor football pitch. Up until this day, this game has been a regular fixture every Monday night. The group kept growing to the point where I had to start another game on Wednesday night also. Then the problems began!
The Pains Of Organising Regular Games
I then began to encounter the pains of a casual football organiser. Every week I created a Facebook event and invited everyone within the group to it. I was never sure if anyone had seen the invites, as the event tended to only fill up on the day of the game.
A few people just showed up as they couldn't be bothered with Facebook. This meant that every week I was faced with the same issue of whether to fork out £40 and book the football pitches.
Would There Be Enough Players?
Would we have enough players for a 5 aside game? As a rule of thumb, I booked if we had 6 confirmations on the Facebook event four hours before the game. Some weeks, we did only have 6 and I really should have cancelled the game. Myself, the organiser, was left to pick up the rest of the pitch hire costs, as the players that did show brought only £4. Eventually, I put up the price to build up a surplus to handle these situations. Other weeks, we had far too many, and on one occasion twenty turned up!.
The issues of having too many or too few players and having to manually create a Facebook event each week made me determined to develop a solution to these problems.
Football Matcher Was Born
Thankfully my brother and I were both software developers, so we got to work on coming up with a better way to organise these casual football games. During the process of ideation, we discovered there were other tools aimed at this problem but we felt they all had the same flaw, they all required the players to either download or register with the platform. We firmly believed players wouldn’t have the patience to register nor the organisers the appetite to enforce a mobile app on everyone, in order for everyone to play. They also lacked the social community side that we felt was an important part of regular football.
Therefore, we came up with some principles to follow:
After reading the Lean Startup, by Eric Ries, we scoped out a minimum viable product (MVP) which took aim at the core problem of sending weekly invites and knowing exactly how many players were coming. Even with our MVP, we were determined to stick to our first principles. Which meant our.our first version went our with just email invites and basic player list handling. We didn't even have player payments in this version.
8 Weeks To Launch - But Would It Work?
Within eight weeks, we launched a product that allowed all the players to sign up with just their name and email. Every week the players would receive an automated email inviting them to the next game and requesting an RSVP by just clicking on a button within the email. We tested it on the Woolwich Arsenal Football group. Would they adopt/accept it?
Well, did it work?
Almost everyone jumped from Facebook to our platform, signing in with just their email. The first game went ahead without any of the players complaining. In fact, some even applauded at just how simple it was to use. They loved the fact that they didn’t have to use Facebook anymore.
Players Signed Up Earlier!
Interestingly enough, we saw a change in behaviour. The email invites were sent out and within an hour we had 12 players for the game instead of finding out just before the game stared. I now had no worries about having the numbers before paying for the pitch and for the first time, I could book the pitches days before kickoff.
Our success created a new problem. Repeatedly, too many players were signing up!
We quickly moved on to developing the next version. We needed waiting lists to control the numbers. After solving this issue, we knew we were onto something!
Why not give it a try?!
Why don’t you give Football Matcher a try and become a BETA organiser? We are always open to new feature ideas and would love your feedback. Just click the below link to get started!