An interview with Sportening’s Founder & CEO Ivan Klarić on the sport startups ethos, motivations, evolution and the significance of sport fans.
Creating a sense of belonging is at the forefront of new sports startup, Sportening’s ethos. Putting fans at the epicenter of all they do, they have established a curated and collaborative space to amplify the voice and opinions of sports fans the world over. Placing significant importance in the involved development of sports supporters, they are connecting fans both to each other and their clubs. “The only thing that’s certain in a startup is uncertainty”, states Sportening’s Founder, Klarić. As a new client of IMAGO, we chatted all things, sport, fans and starting out.
Firstly, how did it all get started and how has it evolved over the years to become the Sportening we see today?
After 10 years in sports-tech and one company which we built and sold, we realized that there wasn’t a single platform built for fans, where they’re in the epicenter.
We invested our capital and started building a product for the fans, with 1.000 of them involved from the initial development build.
Today, there are 50 of us working tirelessly to build this app, talking with fans daily, and finding the best ways to make them engaged and connect them.
What were the initial goals you set for yourself when starting out the initiative?
We were super ambitious from the early beginnings. We wanted to become the ultimate app for every sports fan globally, which has remained our goal. Hopefully, Sportening will be a place where they find a sense of belonging and where they feel empowered.
What was it like starting up?
The only thing that’s certain in a startup is uncertainty, so there were many unpredictable things in our beginnings. Our previous experience taught us that some of our hypotheses would surely turn out to be wrong, and that’s why we were open to pivoting and making mistakes. There was no fear; we knew that after every missed hypothesis, comes a discovery of an upside opportunity.
Do you have any tips or advice for others looking to start out in the sports industry?
The sports industry is growing rapidly, new generations love sports, and there are many opportunities. So keep going, work hard, and opportunities will come. And of course, good luck!
If you had to define the most significant or leading pillar/ motive for your work at Sportening, what would it be? Was it the same when you started out or has it changed with growth?
Fans, our employees, and our investors. Those are the three pillars of Sportening, in that order.
We wanted to build a strong, enduring company that’s known for its excellent product and company culture. We’ve always strived for excellence, and we’ll continue to do so.
“Fans are always on the sidelines, while journalists, pundits, and analysts are the only ones who get to voice their opinion.” Why do you think giving fans a voice and a place for that is so important in the sports industry?
Sports exist because of fans. If there are no fans, all sports businesses can put the key in the
lock. That’s why a decentralized platform where fans can build their own community and voice their opinions is so important. Football clubs will benefit as well, as their fans will be more connected than ever.
How important is setting your brand apart from others? What are the ways in which you can do this most effectively?
It’s extremely important. We decided to be fan-focused, rather than focus on statistics, as well as offer reliable news instead of rumors and clickbait. Those are some of the main things that set us apart from other sports and social apps.
How would you describe your visual aesthetic?
Still non fully defined, but we know we do not want to get in the way of fandom with a complicated UI . We are a startup and our product is constantly evolving and so is our visual aesthetic.
We are shaping our app and its brand around our users’ feedback and their app usage. We believe that it’s the right approach for now.
How/ Has IMAGO boosted or supported your brand so far?
Partnering with IMAGO gave us access to an unparalleled selection of high-quality sports photos, which helped us grow our social media presence and convey the desired emotion.
What are the most common mistakes you see sports organizations make?
We believe that they very often forget about those that matter the most – the fans. Many organizations are not addressing their needs or empowering their voices. We see this as a huge mistake.
In Sportening, we wanted our product to show that we practice what we preach. Our product connects fans, and it also gives them a chance to voice their opinion. For now, that opportunity comes with one of our newest features that’s unique – our Player Rating system. We plan on implementing more features that will amplify the fans’ voices.
What was one highlight of starting up and one challenge?
Building this product and the team from the ground up was definitely a highlight, it’s an amazing experience, full of invaluable learnings.
One challenge that we had was working with a tight budget, but because of it, we became much more creative and adjustable, which is always a plus.
Sportening are providing everything a fan needs in one place. Establishing themselves as the most relevant place for news, scores and fan opinion – they’re now also an IMAGO client.