It’s tough to embark on ambitious fitness plans or to learn a new sport without the help of friends or likeminded people to help coach you through the process. Trying to go from lite jogger to marathon runner or from casual golfer to shooting par: The challenges are invigorating, sure, but vim and vigor won’t necessarily carry you all the way to Olympic glory. This is one of the main issues being tackled by Tribesports, an early-stage, U.K.-based startup, which wants to help motivate and encourage sports enthusiasts online to improve in their sport of choice — and be active offline.
Tribesports has essentially built a social network for sports, but there are a few bells and whistles that keep its site from being a Facebook-port for sports. The startup uses a recommendation engine, based on data collected on user interests and community interactions, to serve content relevant to their interests and chosen sport. The platform also integrates game mechanics, a la Foursquare, providing leaderboards, badges, and opportunities to “encourage” (which is an actual button) friends and fellow sports fans in their offline pursuits.
The startup, which is run by 3 former execs from mydeco (a site that offers furniture and interior design tools and ideas), has also announced that it has raised $400K in seed funding led by a group of international angel investors to launch its public beta and develop mobile apps.
“I have been taking part in marathons and Ironman events for nearly 10 years now, and have played football for as long as I can remember, but there has never been a place where I could share everything about myself as a sports person”, said Tribesports CEO Steve Reid. “Tribesports allows sports enthusiasts to create a showcase of their sports achievements and to connect with others globally to share training logs, tips, questions, tactics, advice and ideas.”
Whether a user is slowly training for their first 10 mile run and enjoys the odd game of tennis or is a seasoned decathlete and captain of their basketball team, Tribesports allows users of all skill levels to build complete profiles of their sports life, like one can on Facebook. Users can join “Tribes” (like Facebook Groups) based on their favorite sports, location, playing position, and ability level. And the best part is that users can seek advice and guidance from more seasoned athletes or connect with people on their level.
You can also take “Challenges” in personal fitness (100 crunches a day, for example) or organized events in just about every sport one can think of. Other users can also donate to your challenges by using JustGiving integration and can then track your progress as you go, making sure you’re not spending the money on beer or snacks.
And because most athletes have their own tools of the trade, users can search from more than 1 million products (across more than 1K sports), adding equipment to their personal profiles, which they can then review and have other users comment on, or just add a piece of equipment to their wish list.
This is also where the startup’s revenue model comes into play. Tribesports will take a commission of all products sold through its website. It will then supplement commerce commissions by offering companies targeted sponsorship and advertising packages that reach a particular group of athletes or sports fans.
The site’s registration and interface are both straightforward and easy to navigate, and offer the familiar status update and the ability to post images, video, and links to relevant content. Users can also connect with Facebook and sign in through a mobile-friendly webpage when they’re on the go. Mobile apps, the company said, are on the way.
For more on Tribesports, check out the video below: