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No sports fan likes to watch a match alone; he/she likes to interact and connect with each other, sharing thoughts and progress of the match. But what if none of your pals are sporty? That’s where Rooter comes in. This mobile sports app was launched by Piyush Kumar in May 2016. The app serves as a platform for real-time interaction with enthusiasts across the globe. Chat with supporters and rivals, try to predict the outcome of a match and you also stand to win prizes. The app, which is available on iOS and Android, also lets the users to take quizzes about their favorite sport to kill time before a match begins, and starts discussions about the rules of the game. “It is exciting for the users as they get to test their mettle at understanding game situations. There are live match forums where users discuss a match and express their views,” Piyush Kumar, CEO, Rooter said.
Piyush, a sports enthusiast, said he clearly remembers the 2007 T-20 World Cup final between India and Pakistan & how he watched the match with a whole crowd of cricket fans and cheered for Team India throughout the game. But he also did notice the fall in the number of sports fans assembling together to watch a game since then.
The personalization of the consumption of content has changed a whole lot of things. He saw a huge business opportunity amidst the loss. The computer science graduate from Delhi University, Piyush decided to make use of his over 13-year-experience in marketing and advertising, working with companies like Swatch Group India, Dish TV and FCB Ulka. He thought of reviving the engagement of fans around sports & giving them something to cheer for. In 2015, Piyush came up with an idea for a platform that would connect sports enthusiasts in a manner similar to how Tinder operates. He needed a co-founder with a technical background, one who could convert that idea into a tangible product. This was how Soham Sinha came into the frame. Finally, in September 2016, the duo launched Rooter. “We didn’t want to use ‘sport’ or ‘fan’ for the app’s name, because it will get lost in the deluge of apps that are already available. I came across the story of how Twitter got its name, so I wanted to find a word that could be used as both a noun and a verb. That’s when we came across the dictionary meaning of rooter: a supporter or fan of a sports team or player. After two months of searching, we had found our name!”, said Piyush.
In October 2016, Rooter got its seed funding from Bollywood actor Boman Irani and also witnessed participation from Dhruv Chitgopekar, partner at Kwan Entertainment, and Prantik Dasgupta, a corporate professional and avid sports enthusiast which encouraged the team to push on and use technology to make the sports consumption experience even better and more enjoyable. The funds were used to strengthen the technology team at Rooter as well as to create strategic partnerships with various sports platforms, teams, fan clubs, and associations. In the most recent funding round in March 2017, Rooter raised an undisclosed fund from Intex, consumer electronic goods and accessories manufacturer. Commenting on the funding, Piyush Kumar said, “It gives us immense pleasure to receive funding from Intex. Rooter is essentially a tech-based platform and we wanted to have an investor on board who could also be our strategic partner and help us evolve our product to fully realize its potential. Intex’s deep understanding of the smartphone world and its popularity in Tier-2 and 3 cities of India will help us promote and develop Rooter’s unique idea further, optimizing it to perfectly fit the needs of smartphone users everywhere.” The ready database of Intex will also help the company to find new users. With the new investment, Rooter aims to add more numbers to its Sales and Marketing team as well as to the content division.
#the Rooter’s App
The key feature of Rooter’s platform is the live match prediction game, which engages fans during a live match and also connects them with other fans. The concept is simple: download the app and pick which sports you would like to follow. The app then lists the matches that are in progress; anyone can join the forum to chat, cheer and dissect as the game goes on. Cricket, football, basketball and tennis are currently available and it aims to add two more — F1 and MotoGP — within the next two months.
It’s not just the big matches that are featured on the app. Even Ranji and Duleep trophy-level matches are given the same importance. Users (also known as Rooters) can use coins to predict various scenarios for matches. There is an option to make pre-match prediction as well. Predict right and win more coins — these can be used to get Amazon gift vouchers, and soon, the option to redeem them for sports merchandise, tickets and PayTM money will also be givern to the users. Another interesting thing about the app is ‘Rooter Connect tab’ which shows the number of Rooters around you, with distance and the teams they support. Users can choose to meet at a Root Up, where virtual supporters meet in a real-world location and root for their team in person.
#climbing the Growth ladder
A team of 15 people, who are obsessed with sports, is working out of a co-working space, and the app’s user-base is growing by 75% every month. Currently, Rooter has over 25,000 downloads. Though the sports app hasn’t planned for any direct-from-user revenue model at present, it aims to enhance its user-base as much as possible, and then target the regional sports teams of various tournaments such as IPL and ISL, among others, for merchandising and fan engagement opportunities. With the approaching sports season, Rooter hopes to far exceed the 50000+ downloads it currently sits on, and aims to cross half a million downloads by the end of the IPL. Also the startup is planning to launch offline integrated operations.