Startup Spotlight on Sam Parton, founder of OpenPlay

We met Sam at our recent Sport & Recreation dinner where businesses in the space came together to connect, share ideas and find ways to collaborate. We wanted to find out more about him and his startup OpenPlay.

sam parton open play

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

OpenPlay is a web and mobile platform which connects sports facilities to the public. It makes it easier for the public to find and book facilities such as tennis courts, football pitches and sports halls particularly in parks, schools and community sites.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I was at a previous startup called WhipCar, the world’s first neighbour-to-neighbour car rental service. If you owned a car you could rent it out to someone else. Unfortunately it failed despite going nationwide with 19,000 car owners signed up but I learnt some valuable lessons and it gave me good startup experience.

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?

My co-founder Ian is the CTO and I met him via a co-founder network. After meeting up a couple of times we launched OpenPlay four months after meeting and have been together ever since (as business partners).

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

Wasting time trying to engage with sports bodies. You can spend a lot of time and energy trying to engage with them and not get anywhere.

What will 2014 bring?

There’s not much of it left, but hopefully more venues and activities with online booking on OpenPlay. We’re also working on some key partnerships to help accelerate things which we’re very excited about and we’re bringing out an accompanying iPhone app to make life even easier for people wanting to get active.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector

You will have to be extremely patient as there are huge barriers to entry for startups in the sports industry. It is hugely public sector dominated and it takes time to get credible. Don’t go into expecting over night success and be prepared for a fight!

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
Save time and effort finding and booking sports facilities such as tennis courts, football pitches and activities in London by logging on to OpenPlay. You can even find other sports partners in London to play with. You’ve got no more excuses to sit on the sofa now!

Thanks for joining us Sam. Hope to see you around our table again soon!

open play logo

To learn more about our upcoming tables, go here.

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