Sportstech specialist Sportside has secured backing to the value of GBP15million from impact investor Fortunis Capital Group.The ‘connect and play’ social app, scheduled to be launched in autumn, is a one-stop platform that lets people find their perfect sporting match, by age, ability or geography – and gives clubs and coaches the resource to manage their business and attract new clients. Driven by free sign-ups, Sportside aims to build an engaged community of millions of players, coaches and clubs which, in turn, will open up commercial opportunities for advertisers, partners and sponsors.
Bob Frost, Director of London-based Fortunis, confirmed an initial GBP2 milllion of funding, with further phased funding to GBP15 million over the course of the next two years. He said: “This investment in Sportside comes at a time when sport and exercise has never been so important to the lives of so many people in the UK. The pandemic lockdown saw millions disconnected and isolated from their daily personal sporting interactions and we see Sportside as key to helping people reconnect.
“Sportside is a perfect fit for our investment criteria – tech-driven, sustainable and with global potential. Critically, by connecting more people through sport it tackles today’s mental and physical health challenges.”
In May, Fortunis announced a GBP15million funding package for fintech Karma, an app that aims to disrupt the payday loan market by offering interest-free advances. Frost says: “We believe in supporting innovation to provide a higher multiple of returns to our investors than what was achievable before, while also making a real positive impact on our society and the world we live in.
“In the current Covid-19 climate, consumer demands are rapidly evolving and they see value in ethical investment in companies with purpose and salience. In both the short and long-term, companies with strong moral, social and environmental credentials will stand out from the crowd and reap financial and social gain.”
Newly-appointed Sportside CEO Jeremy Bourke, who has recently been at the forefront of several sports tech ventures as well as being the Commercial Director at the Sports Technology Awards Group, says: “The investment by Fortunis Capital will support our programme of investment in talent, tech and marketing as we accelerate towards a consumer launch in autumn.
“We have been building an audience on social media prior to launch, using a mix of PR campaigns integrating with our influencer marketing teams. GB athlete Vicky Williamson, for example, has highlighted the disparities between male and female sporting opportunities during the recent Sportside Gender Play Gap campaign.
“It’s a paradox that in the ‘always on’ connected social world of Instagram and Facebook many people still struggle with loneliness and isolation through difficulties in making personal, real connections. This has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19 which has seen many people cut off from their normal social sporting connections.
“With the support of Fortunis, we can use technology to connect all types of people with all types of ability to their perfect sporting partners and allow clubs and organisations to flourish and grow their memberships once again.”