This Pakistani startup allows even the worst of mobile phones to stream a GIF of the latest cricket match highlights
No matter the sport, the spectating fanatic is there to cheer at every wicket taken, every base covered, every steal, every ball slammed and maybe even every body slam. It’s evident from the sports-related searches on YouTube that the Internet audience is not looking for the one minute of awkward glances between strikes, dunks or bowls.
This is why in Spring 2014, Shahid Rasool decided to start Cricingif — a service that allows even the worst of mobile phones to stream a GIF of the latest cricket match highlight. After on-boarding Muneeb Wyne as COO, the duo pooled enough savings for a survival plan encompassing expenses, such as office, legal, design and development team.
Six months ago, they hired Qasim Zafar as Chief Business Officer. Zafar is fairly known for being the co-founder of the first ride-sharing app in Pakistan, which he started after a Startup Weekend event in 2014.
I sat down with Zafar to learn the specifics of his targets and intentions in this new startup.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea is original. The inspiration was that people should be able to watch the moments in a match on their own terms. We have live streams in which if you miss an important moment, then it’s gone for good — unless someone decides to put it into a highlights clip several days later.
And we also have textual commentary where you have an archive of previous deliveries, but you can only imagine what the moment must have been like.
How does the startup make money?
Our business model is designed on the publisher approach, so we intend to monetise from online advertisements and sponsorships. We are looking into some interesting possibilities with ad placement inside the ball-by-ball video clips as well.
How much of this US$2.5 billion space do you intend to capture and how?
We are aiming to capture at least 5 per cent of this market within the next five years.
We have divided our regions of interest into three tiers based on similar characteristics. Tier 3 can be captured with lower marketing spends but with a thorough understanding of the market. Tier 2 requires more cash to penetrate and Tier 1 is the fiercely contested, hot territories in the cricketing world. We plan to go from Tier 3 to 2 to 1.
We have an aggressive product and user growth strategy that involves strategic partnerships to boost our user base, while adding virality-enabling features and making our content as widely shareable and accessible as possible. We have been growing upwards of 15 per cent month-on-month for the last six months already in most key metrics without any spend on that front, so it is reasonable to assume that with additional product improvements, improved branding and some marketing spend, those numbers are only going to increase.
How much did it cost you to set it up? How much did you invest or raise?
To date the total costs of the technology development and team have reached approximately US$35,000. We have invested proceeds from our technology consulting services into the company. We are looking to raise our first round of investment soon.
What are the tangible business goals for the next three quarters?
March 2016 — Closing a seed round of investment and introduction of new textual content features. On-board Pakistani strategic partners (telcos and brands) for cross-promotion. Fill empty but critical spots in the team. Secure digital rights for Pakistani market.
June 2016 – Reach 10 million clip plays per month with over 100,000 users. Introduce community building activities into the mix. Groundwork in Tier 3 markets: rights, distribution, demographics.
September 2016 – Reach 25 million clip plays per month with over 250,000 users. Enter remaining Tier 3 markets.
How will you get from where you are to where you want to be?
We are actively pursuing strategic partnerships with brands and companies that have a large reach and can promote the Cricingif brand to a very large user base without a lot of marketing spend on our part. We are already in talks with several of the major Pakistani players that fit this bill.
Building virality into the product is critical, so we are focusing on adding engagement features and making our content as easily shareable and accessible as possible. We plan to begin an online advertisement push in the coming months as well.
Aside from capital, what kinds of strategic assistance can future employees or investors bring to the table for value addition?
Since we are in the digital media business, investors and future employees bringing in connections and experience from the advertisement industry will be a very big plus. In addition, if an investor has experience with digital and broadcast rights and licensing, that will also help us grow quickly. And again, there is no substitute for creativity, intelligence and persistence.
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