By Tomi Kaukinen, CEO and cofounder of Sportacam
Ok, here we stood outside the offices of FC Barcelona, one day after their Champions League win in June 2015, quite nervous of course, totally aware of the fact that they were the biggest club in terms of social media impact. We were about to go in and present our project, social media platform Sportacam, and one of the reason we had managed to get to knock on this door was ArcticStartup.
In the following year up until today many of our big business leads have come either directly or indirectly through the network of ArcticStartup. The reason I am writing this column is because I thought this story deserves to be told, and the fact that their latest event in Finland, Media Honeypot continued that trend with new leads, kind of was the tipping point to write this.
Let’s rewind the tape to March 2015. We had just released a test version of Sportacam for a smaller group (200) of testers and we are getting some very good data on retention and usage back, which comes in handy because we are running out of funds and some good data helps your case in fundraising mode. We planned the release for May 11 and the closing of the financing round a week before that. You know, investors always want to wait until your product is out, but you want to get the money before that ?
So basically at this point you need anything whatsoever to boost your valuation. On our way to lunch in Kamppi we meet with an old friend who mentioned an event called Startups in the Sun, happening in Murcia, Spain. He mentions it since we are an app focused on sports and that Spain would be a great market for that. He recommends us to check it out a bit more and connects us with one of the guys who is arranging it.
We call and meet up to discuss it. I remember him saying “Guys, there will be people from La Liga clubs, global phone operators and others you have an interest in meeting, I promise you it is worthwhile”.
There are two catches for us. In Finland, Slush has become somewhat of a monster in size and in the last years it has been almost impossible to meet anyone there. It has been mostly just walking around with a vibe more like the hipster festival in Helsinki – Flow, and less resemblance to a start up conference. Don’t get me wrong, Slush is amazing, but it is not catering the early startup scene as well as before.
Therefore I am worried that we might not get the quality meetings we want. The other reason is simply the fact that, at this point, its Monday, and the conference is starting on Wednesday so the price of airline tickets and hotels is counted in thousands not hundreds.
I need to make sure that if the company is spending thousands of euros at a point in time where we are running out of cash, the results better be outstanding.
So, I propose “You must guarantee we get a meeting with both the La Liga guys and the teleoperators. I want you to shake my hand and promise me, we will meet and pitch to these guys”
We shake hands and he promises. So, Vamos a Espana.
Arriving on site we notice it’s quite small but quickly realize that because of the nature of the leads, its perfect. Quality over quantity. In the following days we get to pitch and talk to everyone we agreed on and the contacts we get are fantastic.
We meet with La Liga representatives who fell in love with Sportacam and with who we (2 months later) signed a deal with and still work with. A week from the meeting we Skype with FC Barcelona board and a month later we are on site in Barcelona in a meeting.
In Murcia we also meet with Sixto Arias from Made in Mobile who runs a company which helps startups from other countries, including Finland to establish themselves in Spain. This brief meeting would later turn out to be extremely valuable for us.
We come home feeling, this must have been the most productive conference ever. With meetings set up with FC Barcelona, upcoming deals signed with another La Liga club (UD Almeria) we manage to close our financing round successfully and we also release our app on May 11.
Summer arrives and its time for Arctic15, a conference I have always liked because, as Startups in the sun, its more intimate. Quality over quantity. On the first day we bump into Sixto Arias once again and tell him about our upcoming meetings with Barcelona and trip to Almeria in the south of Spain. He recommends us to add Madrid to our trip to visit him. We have always been a bit skeptical working with go-to-market consultants but we agree that we will come by and discuss what they can offer.
One week after Arctic15 Sixto sends over a schedule for meetings for our visit. I am almost falling off the chair when I read it. Meeting with Atletico de Madrid, taking in the former Head of New Media of Real Madrid as consultant to help Sportacam and a lot more.
Six months after attending Startups in the Sun Sportacam has become the fastest growing social media for sports in Spain. We have co-operation deals with 15 top clubs, one of the worlds biggest sports medias Marca, hired the former Head of New Media of Real Madrid, thousands of users and we have more users than Twitter had after the same time in Spain.
And all this thanks to ArcticStartup being about quality, not quantity.
We are now mostly focusing on Spain and our main focus is Spanish speaking markets so when Arctic arranged Media Honeypot in Helsinki we wanted to participate. And, as seems to be a trend, we met with one of Spain’s biggest media houses, not in Spain, but in Helsinki, at Honeypot. They fell in love with our concept and I am actually traveling to Madrid today to meet them. Once, again, great quality attendees.
So, all in all, out of 3 ArcticStartup events we have participated in, in the last year, 2 have radically impacted our business and for the last one, it remains to be seen, but I am confident.
As mentioned earlier, I really enjoy ArcticStartup’s focus on quality. Because, in the end, what is the purpose of a startup event with high quality if its impossible to meet or pitch anyway.
Sportacam is the world’s first truly social media. In Sportacam you talk face to face with other users. In Sportacam you can’t write comments, you can only comment (5-sec video comment with camera), people’s posts. It’s positive and fun. Sportacam has during the last 6 months passed 1 million euros in financing, partnered with 15 clubs in Spain and with leading sports media Marca, hired the former Head of New Media of Real Madrid and been nominated to 100 best ideas by leading Spanish economy newspaper Expansion.
Behind Sportacam is a Finnish company lead by founders Tomi Kaukinen and Aleksi Laakkonen but also investors such as ex-Barcelona player Jari Litmanen, ex-hockey player Teemu Selänne, basketball players Petteri Koponen and Teemu Rannikko, ex-tennis player Jarkko Nieminen and the Finnish government fund for technology and innovation, Tekes.