20th November 2018

Meet the business: OpenPlay

Joss Harris

What is OpenPlay?

OpenPlay is a sports marketplace which plays two roles. Alongside providing an automated online booking system to some of the largest sports facilities globally (e.g. Hyde Park, Dubai Sports World, Singapore Sports Hub), it also offers platforms for the public to find and get involved in activities close to them.

How did you get involved in Geovation?

We participated in the 2014 Geovation Challenge with the goal of allowing councils and the public to make the most out of existing parks and open spaces. As well as the £15,000 grant, we benefitted from being offered amazing office space and on-hand support at the Hub. This helped us develop our idea and use the mapping data to better provide information to the consumer on what’s going on around them and how to join in.

How has the Geovation helped your business?

Geovation has been an excellent experience for OpenPlay, and not only because of the practical advantages of sharing a space with like-minded start-ups. A prime example is the assistance and training we received from Alex Wrottesley, Head of Geovation, when pitching to investors as we were preparing for our seed funding round. Within our company we had very little experience of pitching, so Alex’s advice made a huge difference to the way we approached it and ultimately led to a successful raise.

Sam Parton, MD of OpenPlay

OpenPlay now operates abroad, how did Geovation assist in that?

One of the key benefits of being involved in the Geovation Programme and Hub has been the connections and introductions that were constantly being made, either serendipitously or pre-arranged. This was especially the case with potential international business development. While at the Geovation Hub, multiple delegations from abroad visited to find out about the start-ups and ideas coming out of the UK. This greatly benefited us as a couple of these connections have materialised into growth leads and actual clients.

What do you think of the geospatial sector?

In our opinion, the geospatial sector is one that is going to thrive and not only because of the start-ups, but because it underpins many other growing industries. IoT, AR and to some extent AI are all industries that get a lot of press coverage and seem to be growing rapidly and all require involvement from the geospatial sector to actually be practical.

So, the direct contact that the end consumer will have with geospatial industry may not be that visible or obvious, but in our day-to-day lives we will be using an increasing number of technologies that all rely on geospatial data.

This June you moved from the Hub to your own office, what is next for OpenPlay?

OpenPlay recently became a profitable company, which would not have happened so soon without the help of Geovation. The main goal for the next few years is to continue our UK and international expansion to become the one platform that people use when searching for and booking physical activity. Alongside this we can start to understand customer trends better and really start to reduce the barriers to getting active by using suggestion and nudge tools to encourage people to get active, which has always been our end goal.