Sunday, July 3, 2022

You have to start DOING – and making mistakes to learn from them

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

stringster innovative real life support apps for badminton- and tennis players

Please introduce yourself and your startup stringster to our readers!
I am Elmar Sperling, 54, managing partner of „sportsnext applications“, the startup behind the stringster app. Before founding the company together with my two partners Marc Zwiebler, 33, and Dr. Sven Gehring, 34, in January 2017, I spent years in national and international advertising agencies – and I am still also a managing partner of the Hamburg-based advertising agency „switch life brands“.

My partner Marc has been the most outstanding German badminton professional for almost a decade now. Sven is our IT brain specialized in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction at the DFKI, University of Saarbrücken. This constellation enables us to develop and market innovative real life support apps for badminton- and tennis players.

How did you get the idea to stringster?
The original idea to develop a mobile app that could measure the string tension level of a badminton racket by the sound came from Marc. Many of his fans were interested in the kind of strings he plays and at which tension level.

So, we discussed the idea and came to the conclusion that every badminton- and tennis player should care about his/her strings because the strings are in fact the soul of a racket. Strings – and the way you string – have great impact on the repulsion power of your racket and your feel for the ball. Fresh strings can even protect your elbow and shoulder joints by their superior shock-absorbing performance.

Having realized all this, we decided to make a mobile app that would allow players to evaluate not only the tension level but also the condition (elasticity) of their strings over the course of time – In turn letting them know when it’s time to restring their rackets.

How difficult was the start and what challenges did you have to overcome?
We started to develop stringster for badminton first – – and received a lot of support from the badminton community, because many badminton players liked the idea that their sport would become more digital. In fact, we were even able to build a marketing cooperation with YONEX, the global market leader in badminton, for the first year.

YONEX realized right from the beginning that such an app would also help to ensure quality management amongst stringers in the market. Furthermore, the stringster app would support their trade partners in consulting their own customers properly.

Apart from YONEX we are also in close contact with other important badminton makers like VICTOR, Li-Ning, … as we want to provide a service open to all badminton players no matter which racket brand they play.

Our greatest challenge in the first months after launch was to fix the bugs you just cannot avoid when launching a completely new app for Android and iOS. In this phase we had to face a lot of de-installations especially on iPhones because Apple wouldn´t accept one of our updates for almost 3 weeks. Fortunately, the app is now running stable on both iOS and Android.

Currently we are working hard on preparing the launch of the stringster app for tennis in January 2018. Due to a larger variety of racket frame sizes in tennis and due to the spreading of hybrid stringing, the stringster app for tennis is more complex than the app for badminton. This brings me to our immediate challenge: Raising money to finance the programming capacities and communication with our users, as well as for hiring the team we need to manage our growth potential.

Who is your target audience?
Stringster is a digital service for dedicated badminton- and tennis players. And when I say “dedicated” I am talking about those players who do not just play for fun. Stringster addresses those perfectionist players who really want to improve. So, we define our target group by a certain mind set – no matter on which level they actually play. These players can really profit from correct stringing.

The other important target group are the professional stringers and retailers, as they can use stringster for quality assurance. For them exclusively, the app includes a “stringers mode” and is also accompanied by a real world tool we call “measuring protocol”.

What is the USP of your startup?
sportsnext applications develops concepts for sports companies in badminton and tennis that want to transform their business into the digital age.
Our first product – the stringster app – enables players to identify the appropriate point of time to restring their rackets.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
If you love what you are doing it’s hard to distinguish “working day” from “spare time”. Some hidden corners of your brain (and guts?) are working 24/7 and when they come to any kind of result it just pops up. Over the years I have learned to appreciate and to trust in these kinds of intuitive working results. Otherwise it would be hard to manage a creative agency and an online startup parallelly.

But if you refer to my daily routines: My average working day starts somewhere after 9:00 a.m. in the car on the way to my office. It´s usually when the short news on NDR INFO are repeated for the first time that I carry out my first phone calls. From the moment I arrive at the office until 6:00 p.m. I am just giving feedback in agency team processes as well as on request of clients and external partners of both sportsnext applications and switch life brands. It is only in the evening, when it’s getting calmer in our open office space, that I consciously start thinking forward and initiate new projects.

Where do you see yourself and your startup sportsnext in five years?
Digital services of sportsnext will be known within the badminton- and tennis community around the world because they are effective tools to improve and enjoy your game every day. I myself will definitely still be on board. Hopefully as a better badminton- and tennis player than I am today

What 3 tips would you give other startup founders on the way?
My 3 tips are driven by the insight that even the best product ideas need professional marketing in our complex multi-optional world:
– Take the time to clearly define the BENEFIT of your product – technically and emotionally. Attention: Your benefit has to be unique in your market!
– Have a professional BRANDING right from the start – brandname as well as look and feel of your communication. Attention: You will hardly get a good brand strategy from a designer!
– Now you have to start DOING – and making mistakes to learn from them. Attention: Learn quickly! Don´t get caught in the analysis-paralysis-trap!

More information you will find here

Thank you Elmar Sperling for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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