Before Whitetruffle, we launched Oleboo, an iPhone app that let sports fans cheer for their team while watching a game live. The idea was to extend the stadium to wherever you are, so you can share your emotions with anyone who’s watching.
The app got more than 20,000 downloads in a few weeks after launch, mainly driven by the fact that Apple was showing us on the homepage of the app store under the what’s new and what’s hot. We even got in the top 20 of the sports apps.
Yet, we decided to stop. Let me explain why we stopped, and what we learnt.
We stopped because “appointment products” are really hard to drive traffic to. The ESPN, Yahoo! or Fox of the world can do it, but when you’re a young boostrapped startup, it’s really, really hard, and I didn’t see us being able to make it. It’s already difficult to get users to come to a site that’s available 24hrs a day, it’s 100 times harder to get people to come at a specific time of that day.
That was really the main reason. I couldn’t find a solution that didn’t involve spending lot of $ to be able to acquire users, but more importantly, engage them in the long term.
Today, there are lot of second screen experience products. Some more successful than others, but it’s still very early, and it’s definitely a space that will evolve tremendously over time. In my opinion, to be successful, they’re going to have to pay attention to the following:
– They shouldn’t substitute themselves to the game. The main action is the game. Don’t ask your users to spend all their attention on the second screen. Interaction with the second screen should be super fast to make sure you still enjoy the game.
– Don’t try to create a new social network. People already talk about what’s going on. Twitter, Facebook etc… Aggregate content from those platforms, allow for crossharing.
– Extend the program hours. This is the only way you can fight the “appointment” issue. Give your users something they can do before and after the program. Predictions, comments, bets whatever. But your app has to be open 24hrs a day.
– Give away stuff. It’s silly, but it works. Tee shirts, tickets, jerseys etc…
– Enhance the experience with mobile devices. For real. Don’t just pretend. Citizen sports is doing this very well with the “claim your bar” feature (geo location). Fans can own a real bar in the city!!!!
– Fight the “empty experience”. Make sure you don’t offer too many programs with nobody following them. It’s a true community product, therefore you need make sure you have enough people who would watch a specific program before offering them.
– The phone (or whatever device you’re using) should automatically detect what you’re watching. Intake does it very well (well, expect for sports because it’s super hard).
It’s a fun space, and we’re going to see lot of innovation in the coming years.