Written on the 22 October 2015 by Laura Daquino & David Simmons

WANT to launch a startup? Try a classified ad first like Brisbane's Ben Douglas.

The founder of social platform originally started with an advertisement on a local classified site for the purpose of organising a friendly soccer game.   

"Within 20 hours I got an influx of responses and it seemed right away there was a gap for the service," says Douglas. 

Australia is a nation of sport lovers, but with increasing work commitments, people find it difficult to commit to a sporting club.

Douglas identified a market of the 'everyday Aussie' who wants an easy hobby.

"As an individual, you put the game up and then any other individual can jump on and join in that game," says Douglas.

"You don't need to know anyone, and it confirms you into the team, then once the game is finished you have your next game confirmed already.

"A normal club organises soccer games but we provide a platform for connecting."

Footballr went through ilab's accelerator in 2014 at seed stage to then build its backend, and has now recruited a designer and developer in Macedonia and India.

The startup now has 7000 users nationwide.

Unlike casual and semi-professional soccer clubs which have regular training sessions and traditionally favour the fit, Footballr aims to be inclusive of anyone who just wants to play a game.

"We want to give everyone of all skill, age, fitness and backgrounds a place to play," says Douglas.

"Next year we plan to set up more than a hundred weekly free football games for the Australian community.

"Brisbane isn't a big soccer market, but it's home and has been a good test base for all of its challenges with getting soccer off the ground."

Of course, nailing a tech startup is a difficult process, but after trialling a few different 'premium' formats, Douglas think he's got it right.

"We initially worked just for free and were trying to build up the critical mass in each area and then provide a premium service on top of it," says Douglas.

"After doing that for a while, we rolled out a monthly membership as a test and found people subscribe but we don't think the overall model fit the payment structure.

"We will be rolling out another feature soon which enhances the community feeling, where people can work their way up a ladder, so playing in regular casual games will give you a stronger ranking or something to work towards.

"The plan next year is to roll out across Australian cities, and with those running, we want to look to Asian cities too - it really is the sport of the world."

Author: Laura Daquino & David Simmons





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