Interest-based social networking has always been around, but with the improvement in technology and the tools by which to network, the space has definitely accelerated over the last year. It makes sense: People want an easy way to connect with people who share similar interests. It makes it easier to connect with someone you don’t know when you already share common ground. Plus, it’s a great way to discover activities you’d enjoy, as the movement to connect our online communities with our real lives offline heats up.
Tribesports, a young, London-based startup, is attacking perhaps the most rabid of all those interest-based subgroups: Sports enthusiasts. The startup launched last year with the goal of motivating sports buffs to connect online to improve in their sport of choice offline.
To back up its beta launch, Tribesports raised $400K in June of last year. Today, the company is following up on its seed round with a $2.8 million Series A round, led by a strategic investor as well as a group of international angels. The new financing brings the startup’s total to just over $3 million.
The round will be used to focus on core product development, user-growth and global expansion, as the startup is already seeing 30 percent of its network hailing from outside the U.K. The 14-person startup is headquartered in Silicon Roundabout, London’s tech center, and is focused on building the global sports social networking site of record — to harness the sports graph — to get people active and connecting offline.
Tribesports CEO & Co-founder Steve Reid says the company is seeing some encouraging engagement from its community of users, with power users visiting the site over 200 times each month and spending as much as three full days each month using the service. Activation rates, he said, are also up 300 percent month-over-month in February, and Reid attributes the growing engagement to the fact that this is a vertical that has traditionally been underserved on the Web.
Like Facebook Groups, the platform’s users can join “Tribes” based on their favorite sports, location, playing position, and ability level, and either seek advice and guidance from more seasoned athletes or connect with people at their current level. Users can also take “Challenges” in personal fitness, organize events, or donate to the Challenges of others to incentivize their progress through JustGiving integration, tracking progress as they go.
Tribesports also has a product-side to its platform, part database, part aggregated shopping solution that allows users to search through over 1.5 million sports products from over 250 retailers to add the equipment they use to their personal profiles, or write reviews of the products, or place it on their wish list. The startup then takes a commission on all products sold through its website, supplementing commerce commissions by offering companies targeted sponsorship and advertising packages.
For more on Tribesports, check them out at home here.