First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Jesús Gumiel: We are fine, luckily no one close to us has been sick with COVID-19 during this time, but here in Spain it has been hard. We were confined at home for two months, and right now, the situation is complicated again due to the new contagions and the feeling that we could be locked anytime.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you founded Competize
Jesús Gumiel: I’m a computer engineer, and before quitting my job to dedicate full-time to Competize, I spent 12 years working for well-established IT and Media companies. It was an excellent experience for me. I worked for Telefonica, The Guardian and Sky, places where I was surrounded by amazing colleagues. I learnt a lot from them, and besides, I had the chance to participate in a lot of tech events worldwide, both, as attendant and speaker. This is something I would recommend to anyone the number of interesting people you know it’s priceless. I made so many friends, friends looking forward to giving me a hand when I need it.
The idea of Competize was born in 2012. I was in a pub with a friend trying to find a platform where I could record my football statistics, in the same way, other platforms such as Runkeeper or Endomondo had started doing for running at that time. We did not find it, so we decided to do it on our own. At first, the project was called Football-tracker and was focused on football players’ performance, but soon we started to evolve it adding team and competition features.
How does Competize Innovate?
Jesús Gumiel: We are completely user-focused; our users identify most of our new developments. As we have thousands of them, we analyze the idea, see if it’s something that can be useful for most of our customers and we prioritize it depending on our resources and the benefits it can bring to the users base.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business and how are you coping?
Jesús Gumiel: It’s been very hard for us. After some years of hard work, we had excellent results, increasing our profit and growing quite fast, but COVID has changed everything. All the amateur sports competitions have stopped, and no one knows what’s going to happen with the new season. We are focusing most of our effort now in eSports, as we cannot rely on our old regular customers, and we are starting to come back to our pre-COVID numbers.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Jesús Gumiel: Well, we could not extend the contract of a developer, and we needed to ask for a credit to survive during the beginning of the lockdown. We lost our best months of the sports season, but I know this is a marathon, the companies that survive the pandemic we’ll be stronger and in a better situation to target the market. This nightmare must end at some point, and people will always need sports.
We have learned that you must be able to adapt to the changes, and I don’t think any business is safe nowadays. Only the most innovative and resilient will survive. I always thought that internationalization is a must, and it has been proved in the last months, competitions have been closed at different places around the world, and that gave us time to reinvent our business in Europe while we still had customers on traditional sports in other continents.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and Competize in the Future?
Jesús Gumiel: I’m too passionate about what I’m doing to feel stress or anxiety; besides, I had experience dealing with tie deadlines and complicated projects, to be honest, I was always looking for them. I deal quite well with pressure and the harder the funniest: D.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Jesús Gumiel: They are a lot of local competitors on each country, but at global level, SportsEngine, Tourney Machine, LeagueApps, GotSoccer or JoomSport are the leading startups in the United States, and some of them have already been acquired by other industry players such as NBC Sports, Time Inc (Sports Illustrated Play). The valuation of these acquisitions has not been published, but for example, SportsEngine previously achieved an investment of more than $39 million.
To stay in the game, you need to be in touch with your users and offer them what they need faster and better than anyone. This is something our customers love and makes them feel an important part of the service; thus, their loyalty increases greatly. Our retention is impressive thanks to that. Of course, this is easier to do for a startup, but our automation process is working very well, so we are growing up without losing the proximity.
Your Final Thoughts
Jesús Gumiel: Sports will come back, eSports have advanced 10 years during the pandemic. People have realized that digitalization is a must, even in amateur sports, so, if you work in the tech sports area, be safe, be brave and take this time to work hard and be ready for the great opportunities the future will bring.
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