Podcast Ep 110: Aidan Quilligan, co-founder of Clare business ClubZap, talks about growing a business focused on a love of sport.
The founders of Clare-based ClubZap Declan Murphy and Aidan Quilligan have turned their passion for sport into a business and in doing so they have made social media and e-commerce effortless and less stressful for sports clubs around the world.
We talk to Aidan Quilligan about how the business grew from their local club to now supporting sports teams all over the world.
“If you’re that person who sits at home at night trawling through spreadsheets on your laptop for your club, we can save you hundreds of hours per year”
Both Quilligan and Murphey were members of the local hurling team in Sixmilebridge.
Their product began life as a way to make life easier for club administrators at Sixmilebridge. It has evolved to become a key tool for sports teams, enabling enable greater communication within clubs without having team managers run the gauntlet of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and various legal issues, especially when dealing with minors, as well as facilitating the collection of membership fees, also a pain point for club managers.
“It’s basically a software for running your sports club,” Quilligan explained. It takes all the pain out of administrations and helps clubs to drive more revenues. That came directly from our own experiences. Declan was involved in the administrative side of things and I was involved in playing. We both worked in tech. Declan was involved in the telecoms and billing side of things and I was building mobile and web apps.
“We had been talking about this idea for a couple of years. We had a passion for it. We just started it as a side project for our own club and it just took legs from there. And here we are five years later.”
The app is free to download for a basic version and subscriptions are charged based on the package and other capabilities that are selected. Additional capabilities include e-commerce, for example, and clubs can raise money through club shops selling merchandise or tickets for events.
While ClubZap originally focused on the GAA and capitalising on its club network locally and overseas, the app is now being adopted in other sports as well including soccer, rugby, hockey and more.
“We have customers in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Singapore, Vietnam South Africa and most of these are driven by the GAA diaspora who brought them to clubs overseas and then it filters into soccer and rugby clubs. So that has been an amazing experience.
“One of the superpowers of our business is that it’s a real network business. Clubs are already inherently a network of people and people share ideas and thoughts. So it’s great to see all these people coming from all corners of the Earth because they heard about it from someone who moved out there from Ireland.”
At its core ClubZap teaks all of the pain out of club administration and helps clubs to grow revenue. “So if you’re that person who sits at home at night trawling through spreadsheets on your laptop for your club, we can save you hundreds of hours per year.
“If you are in charge of fundraising for your club we have a platform that helps you to do greater promotion of your activities, get the word out across social media and drive the message further.
“On top of that we help to drive greater revenues through online payments.
“If you are a coach and you are dealing with 60 or 70 sets of parents on a noisy WhatsApp group, we can make all that pain go away. Basically, we tell you who’s coming to your session or not and you can mark attendance. And it is all wrapped up in a nice GDPR-compliant app.
“If you’re the PR for the club and you’re involved in running the website and social media accounts, we centralise that and plug into social media feeds. So all your information, your news, your fixtures and results are all uploaded onto ClubZap and then they go out to all of the channels seamlessly.
“So you have consistent messaging and it just reduces the workload for a lot of people,” said Quilligan.
Looking at what’s next for the business that grew out of a GAA club in Sixmilebridge, Quilligan said that understanding the customer journey and the market have been pivotal.
After raising a small investment in 2019 the business has taken off and the company has not had to raise a seed round. “However, we are now pursuing sales in the UK and we’ve brough on board a number of new employees and we are actively growing.
“In the next few months we expect to be bringing in a more substantial seed round to help drive that and replicate the fantastic two to three years of growth we’ve had in Ireland.”
As well as bringing in overseas sales, the app is actively transcending various kinds of sports. “It was initially for team sports but now it is very adaptable to individual sports and we’ve had lots of athletic clubs, some golf clubs and there’s even a bowls club that has joined. Down the road we are looking at supporting multiple languages and currencies,” Quilligan said.
Main image at top: ClubZap founders Aidan Quilligan and Declan Murphy