This is a follow up story for HoopMaps. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello, my name is Dominic Morris I am the co-founder of HoopMaps a platform that allows users to find pickup basketball runs. The main service we offer is called Curated Runs a workout session of pickup games; these games are facilitated amongst 15 players (3 teams) with music and a fast-paced environment. Our facilitator ensures that everyone who participates will be able to get ample games within the 1-hour session frame. It's a richer experience than the normal pickup games we offer on our app.
We net $150 a day having 6 sessions a week through members booking sessions on our platform. We have these curated runs operating in Sacramento and the Bay Area with us opening curated runs in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and New York City.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since the last time we spoke, I was in the idea stage of creating curated runs. Since the first quarter of 2019, we have created over 200 sessions spreading over 5 cities. We have focused on a direct marketing campaign focusing on email and text messaging marketing. We constantly launch loyalty programs where we discount session fees for our users to bring in new people. We've taken on new part-time employees who oversee our gyms and help promote our sessions.
You want to always show growth so try to focus your energy on an area of your business that is working and streamline everything else to keep your business focused on that.
Some channels we thought were promising actually ended up being costly for us. We started a google Adsense campaign as well as a Facebook boost campaign. Our results underperform compared to our text messaging program. These channels are good for sourcing new people to join but we were using these mediums in a way to continue to bring in new people and we realize we could get a better lifetime value by trying to retain existing members and build from there network.
To retain our members we constantly ask feedback via surveys after each session they complete. We also created a loyalty program by tracking each session's member books and discounting future sessions based on the volume they book per month. For every 6 sessions a member book in a month they receive their 7th 50% off.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Some big mistakes that I've learned were relying on technology. Me and my team wasted months on build-outs for certain features on our app. So we decided late 2018 to create our new vision of Curated Runs on a website. The process started off manual but we progressed the booking process into a system.
Some key partnerships we made that really paid off for us was teaming up with colleges. We have partnered up with California State University, Sacrament to launch our Sacramento market. This was key because they provided the location and the players and helped us advertise to players on campus. We definitely see this as a future revenue model as we scale to more markets later this year.
Also, ask for recommendations. If you did a solid job and people expressed that to you, document it. It can do wonders if someone is browsing through your website and see a review on your site from a customer.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I want to see the Curated Runs program in every major city in the United States by the end of 2022. By 2023 I would like to have strategic partnerships with national companies to offer added value to our members. By this year I also see our price structure evolve from drop-in and package pricing to monthly subscription prices. The brand partnership is the original vision when we created HoopMaps. We wanted to build a relationship where our members look at our partners as a value add towards their experience playing basketball So instead of intrusive banner ads we would target brands that are relative to pick up sports and create coupons/vouchers for our members.
By 2023 to 2025 I would like to see our platform book over 20,000 sessions annually. I see this program is embedded in health clubs and the “Curated Runs” or “HoopMaps” name being a part of the English lexicon known for this genre of workout. I also see us well beyond the sport of basketball, I see other major recreational sports becoming a part of our offerings such as soccer ultimate frisbee and racquetball. I also see us having an advantage in taking over “white space sports”. These sports and hobbies are small in numbers of total participants but are concentrated with loyal players. Sports like pickleball, darts, dominoes, and more. Our mission will be the same in structuring an environment where people can enjoy a curated experience with similar people.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Nathan Latka has a good book How to be a capitalist without any capital is a guide of many accessible ways to have dreams of income from everyday hobbies.
Virtual MBA it's a crash course of an MBA curriculum in picture notes format. Concepts in operations and marketing illustrated in this book.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
My top tip is to fail fast. If you have a theory try to test it out as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible because time is money. You want to always show growth so try to focus your energy on an area of your business that is working and streamline everything else to keep your business focused on that.
I see start-up businesses all the time spreading themselves too thin by trying to have multiple features on their app and trying to emulate existing larger businesses. It's all about being unique, offering the customer an experience that they cannot get anywhere else. My opinion is to be great at one thing and build from there.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes looking to hire:
Field Scouts- Responsible for scouting out and brokering relationships with different gyms in the city.
Scorekeepers- Responsible for tracking the score and individual stats of each game during the sessions.
Ambassadors- Responsible for checking in players and ensuring gameplay goes by smoothly.
Sales- Source and prospect local businesses for sponsor packages.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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