ABOUT THE COMPANY
Based in Leeds, WeTennis is a digital community and performance app for amateur tennis players. The business provides the growing community of sports enthusiasts with a platform that connects players together and allows them to track and display their performance stats against others.
WeTennis was established in July 2018 by co-founders Cameron Almas and Jake Fox. Since then, the duo have brought in the expertise of sports marketing professional and ex ITF umpire, Matt Porsz; tech entrepreneur specialising in the SAAS sector, James Gasteen; as well as developer and app expert, Billy Rebecchi.
Cameron has a tennis-focused background as a player, from when he represented his University, as well as being a Racquet Sports Manager at sports retailer Decathlon. He understood the target audience well but asked Jake to come on board due to his previous experience in commercial consultancy.
The inspiration for WeTennis was born out of observing the success of platforms such as Strava that brings together runners and cyclists in a completely new way. Encouraged by the opportunity and potential, Cameron and James wanted to do the same for tennis.
With both believing that tennis players were being underserved by digital propositions, they started to work to fill this gap in the market.
The business uses match data to deliver advanced analytics and smart matchmaking allowing players to have a unique digital experience accompanying their passion for the sport, which is the fourth most popular worldwide, with 250 million players.
Knowing the importance of being surrounded by people with valuable experience and expertise, the co-founders approached AD:VENTURE which put them in touch with Business Engagement Manager, Deborah Hetherington.
Through AD:VENTURE, they were connected with Leeds Beckett University lecturer, Paul Rhodes, who acted as a mentor in the early days of the business and helped the founders shape their value proposition and route-to-market strategy.
Jake and Cameron also attended a one-day event in Halifax facilitated by AD:VENTURE, which was a “knowledge sprint” workshop offering a detailed insight into different areas of business, from product development, marketing and securing funds to name a few.
Along with the mentoring support, WeTennis also benefited from the work carried out by a team of students from Leeds Beckett University. The student team worked with WeTennis over a three-month period, conducting consumer market research in order to validate the demand for the product.
Jake Fox comments: “I’m from a commercial background and Cameron’s past experience includes tennis retail, but as first-time founders we needed to be connected with the right people to help us to gain real market insight and better understand the demand for WeTennis. We also needed signposting and access to support that could help us to make it happen.
“Being introduced to Paul was extremely beneficial as he was able to give us advice in terms of how to go about launching a tech start-up and promoting ourselves, while also pointing us in the right direction of other support networks. We quickly learned how important it is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you!
“From here, we attended a one-stop shop event in Halifax which I saw as a ‘knowledge sprint’ in how to secure funding, market our product and the process of product development. Following this, the next step was to test and develop the WeTennis prototype. Through Paul, a team of students from Leeds Beckett University collaborated with us for a three-month period, adding invaluable insight in how to tweak and change the app in preparation for its launch.”
WeTennis is now launching the beta version of the app to its thriving community.
Following the early support received from AD:VENTURE, WeTennis built a well-rounded business plan which then helped secure £40,000 funding from Business Enterprise Fund. This funding has been used to build the first version of the WeTennis app and the company has now established partnerships with clubs and universities in the UK and USA.
Jake comments: “The ongoing support offered from AD:VENTURE was invaluable for us. It has given us the confidence to approach tennis institutions with a yet-to-be-launched product and get them onboard with what we are trying to do.
“At the end of the day, we are big fans of the sport and we want to create a place where like-minded people can come together and share their experiences of playing tennis. We have always believed in the legitimacy of the idea of WeTennis and it is very encouraging that AD:VENTURE helped turn this into a reality.”
The team have also gathered organic pre sign-ups for the app through their own online portals, such as the WeTennis website and Instagram.
Jake comments: “Once we knew the there was demand for a platform like WeTennis, we put the advice gained through the programme to the test. We learned that the power of self-marketing cannot be overlooked and is extremely cost-effective. This is evident in the number of sign-ups we have managed to generate prior to the app’s launch.”
WeTennis is holding talks with international angel investor regarding further funding packages. With the ability to record games, track and display performance analytics and interact with other players, WeTennis is aiming to become sports newest global digital community.
Jake said: “Alongside launching the app, we are also looking to raise additional funds to continue to expand WeTennis. The sport is loved by millions, not just in the UK, but across the world and we are really excited to make our platform the next big thing for the growing number of fans that follow the game.
“We really do believe that there is huge potential in WeTennis and thanks to the support provided by AD:VENTURE, we have been able to put the right model in place to give us the confidence that the app will be a great success.”
The WeTennis app can be downloaded on IOS and Android devices.