90% of students stated that they want to play more sport than they currently do (prior to Covid): Our app aims to address this problem.
Sport wasn’t always on the doorstep for me in rural Scotland; I had to find ways to make it happen. Arriving at university I expected everyone to embrace all the sporting opportunities on offer - facilities, clubs, societies and socials at our fingertips, yet surprisingly I discovered that 90% of students weren’t playing as much sport as they wanted.
The main barrier I found was connections. With social media there’s little problem making connections, but unless you have the right connections there is no match.
That’s when I saw an opportunity: an app for students to easily find others to play sport with; creating matches based on location, ability and availability. The result: accessible, flexible and feasible sport for all.
The Armago app: How does it work?
The app is free to all students. When they register they put in the sports they are interested in, the level they play at, their usual availability and where they are located. Using this information, the app finds best matches for them at any given time. They then use the in-app messaging service to easily organise their game. Of course, they can adjust their availability at any time.
· Organising a last-minute game (lecture cancelled; haven’t got organised)
· Meeting other students with similar interests
· Acting as a gateway into joining clubs
· Those who can’t fully commit to a club (financial; time constraints)
· Creating a more global sports community, coming away from the inherent elitism associated with some sports
· Improving motivation
Armago for clubs
Recognising the vital role that clubs play in university sport, the Armago app will support the running of clubs, making it easy for the committee. There will be an annual club membership fee based on numbers in the club.
· Allowing committee members to focus on the needs of their members rather than administration
· Organising training sessions
· Promoting social events
· Creating trial sessions for new members
· Ensuring that events are not over-subscribed
· Bringing in new club members
· Building more of a community
· Providing continuity between changing committee members
Armago Access into Sport scholarship
From the start Armago will be offering an ‘access into sport scholarship’ for every club registered. This will enable one individual per club to access club membership where finances would otherwise preclude them.
Strategy for roll-out
Launching initially in Bristol, the app development is on target to coincide with the lifting of lock-down restrictions. Starting with tennis before expanding into other sports, we aim to support clubs in their bounce-back from Covid. We already have Bristol University tennis club on board for the initial testing, with support from Bristol University sports management and the Students Union to make this a reality for clubs throughout Bristol. Sport England have expressed interest in the app, but are not in a position to offer any funding until we are ready to take this nationwide. Tennis clubs at Exeter, Bath, Edinburgh and Plymouth are already keen to become early adopters.
Our mission is to make Armago the app which all students use for sport at all universities within the next 2 years.
Business and Growth
Costs for stage 1 are budgeted at £12,000 for essentials only (no allowance for time) and include:
· App development costs including prototype
· Digital infrastructure (Domain, Web; Appstore, Googleplay, Server space, etc)
· Business set up (trademark, etc)
· Marketing & admin
· Launch costs
At this stage we are keen to raise funds as much as possible through fundraising/sponsorship as opposed to company equity which will be required at stage 2 for rapid growth. Stage 2 will involve further app development to incorporate new features and include sufficient capacity for the numbers involved, paid staff and more significant marketing costs.
Costs will be offset in the future by clubs paying a yearly membership fee and advertising opportunities.
Building a team
This started out as an individual mission, but I quickly realised that this scale of venture required a team. It wasn’t all smooth sailing: My initial business partner let me down, costing me 8 months of work and most of my savings. It was a hard lesson, but an important one. Moving on, I now lead a team of 7 student interns from different universities, who are all highly motivated and bring with them individual skills and a strong desire to see Armago reach its potential. I am hugely grateful to each and every one of them.
More than just an app – building a global sports community
In March, I set up a podcast to chat to leading sports figures about the start of their journeys; providing inspiration and motivation to students during Covid. Now into season 3, guests include: Alistair Brownlee, Amy Williams, Greg Searle; Mark Beaumont; Schalk Brits; Keri-anne Payne and Jake Wightman to name just a few. Available at: Linktr.ee/Armago
More recently the Armago team launched a ‘Quiz the President’ series – a live Instagram tournament involving 16 of the biggest sports clubs at Bristol University. We anticipate reaching over 11,000 students in the weeks ahead.
The Final Hurdle
As we near the final stages of app development, I’m faced with the final hurdle of raising the remaining funds to make this a reality. As expected, funding has been in short supply for new innovations at this time, however an app of this sort is required more than ever with the long-term impact that Covid has had on universities and sport in the country. We hope you’ll join us in our mission. Any funds, however large or small, will go a huge way at this crucial moment in time.
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