Interview with PlayPal


 123JS is introducing a new segment "#123JSfeatureoftheweek" whereby we will conduct an interview to know more about our incubatees. The objective of this segment is to enable our readers to have a better understanding of the guys/ladies behind a kickass startup. Following our interview with Sqkii, here's another one with the guys from PlayPal!

 About Playpal

Screenshots grabbed from PlayPal app
PlayPal is a football social network, brought together by the PlayPal Football mobile app. Through their platform, social and amateur players can easily organise matches and tournaments amongst this community. For users who are not in any regular football-playing social groups, PlayPal connects them with other enthusiasts and finds them games which they can join and have fun.


The Interview 

123JS: Who are the guys behind Playpal and how did you guys come together?

Shaun: We are a team of four co-founders - myself, our CTO-Vincent Tee and two other part-time partners, Patrick Low and Fabian Tan. Vincent, Patrick and I were football teammates from the same secondary school, River Valley High and later National JC. We had kept in contact since our school days and came up with the idea for PlayPal around middle of last year (2014) because we found it so difficult to gather our ex-football mates for regular games.

Photo taken during PlayPal Youth Challenge in March 2015
Vincent (first from the left), Shaun (second from the left) & Patrick (first from the right)
(Photo courtesy of PlayPal)

Fabian has recently come onboard. He was Vincent's NS camp-mate and they met up again during ICT. Fabian was a professional player for 4 years in the S-League and had played under Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundramoorthy in his 2 years with Young Lions! Patrick, Fabian and I graduated with a business and finance background while Vincent was trained in software engineering and mobile game development. Combined with our common passion for football and youth development, we have come together to make one pretty awesome team!

(Editor's note: Wow wow. Hang on, you mean we have a national player with us here?)

123JS: How have your experience in your previous job helped in running PlayPal?

Shaun: I had a short stint in Deloitte, a big-four accounting firm and about 6 years real estate brokering experience. These have helped me in managing the finance/accounting function and business development efforts in communicating and collaborating with business partners. Vincent previously had 5 years of mobile game development experience with top Japanese and Korean companies - Tecmo Koei and Nexon. His excellent technical expertise means that our mobile app development is in safe hands. Also, his startup experience as part of the technical team at Tradehero had given us some guidance on our startup journey.

123JS: Are you a great soccer player or "bad egg" that everyone wants to sift out? 

Shaun: Besides Fabian who has played at the professional level, the rest of us are average players who contribute to the (football) team with our hardwork and positive attitude. For the most part, we are just the man-on-the-street-football-fanatic, so we understand our users and what makes them tick.

(Editor's note: Now we know who to team up with for a match)

123JS: How do you monetize Playpal and are you guys planning to explore other revenue models? 

Shaun: Currently we are generating some revenues from organizing football tournaments and matches for our users. This is also a lead-up to our to-be-developed marketplace model which fully-automates our match-organizing process, bringing together football referees and pitch facilities so that users utilize our service, through the convenience of their mobile phones. We are also planning to sell our mobile Tournament System as a service to organisations or individuals who want to run football competitions.

Vincent, Shaun & Patrick -in green-, with the winner team from SAF during PlayPal Corporate Challenge
(Photo courtesy of PlayPal)

123JS: Share with us some of the challenges PlayPal has faced since launch & how you guys overcame them. 

Shaun: The goal is of course to design and deliver a killer app which is able to win and retain users. As with most mobile apps, gaining traction is the biggest challenge. We had an initial boost with our launch futsal tournaments in March 2015 and online marketing which gave us the first few hundred users. After that we experienced slower growth. We attribute that to firstly the pace of development as we needed time to produce additional features to cater to different and wider segments of footballers. Secondly, we also had limited experience with UX design which is crucial in retaining and gaining users.

(Editor's note: Yeah, user experience is key for start-ups because the app is their first impression to users. So how did you overcome them?)

We have launched a new team feature which serves the needs of the wider football community and recently employed our UX Architect, Harish, who also loves football. Making use of our team feature, we are and will be working with tournament organisers, including the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), to host football competitions on PlayPal. These will increase our user-base of footballer-users. During this period, we are also undergoing a UX revamp, conducting user surveys and studies in order to tailor our app to appeal to the senses of our target audience.

123JS: What’s your greatest takeway from running PlayPal so far?

Shaun: Finding and building the right team is one, if not, the most crucial element to taking any venture forward.

(Editor's Note: Ending this post with a photo of Shaun & Fandi Ahmad *Screeeaaammmmm*)

Shaun with Fandi Ahmad
(Photo courtesy of PlayPal)

This post is brought to you by 123JumpStart - an initiative by SiTF.

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