Startup from Idea to Success: Plei Story
In this interview, Sebastian tells about his amazing seven-years-long journey starting from the inception of a mobile app concept to establishing a business that now dominates its niche within the US market. The Krononsoft team has been fortunate to accompany Sebastian throughout this entire journey as his trusted software development partner. Today, we joyfully commemorate his remarkable achievements and cherish the fruitful partnership we have forged.
Plei is a mobile app that allows amateur footballers to find partners, book a nearby pitch and sign up for a match.
Plei users can invite friends, chat with other players, find nearby soccer fields, view open pick-up games and pay for a field reservation.
Plei shares the same backend with Plei System, which is a web-based app for soccer field managers that allows them to manage reservations and process payments.
Now Plei has 100k+ users and nearly 100+ partner soccer facilities in 14 US cities (in 11 states).
Idea and Its Transformation
Please describe what Plei is today, just in a couple of words.
Plei today is just so many things! To put it simply, our mission is to enable anyone to play soccer anytime they want as easy as ordering an Uber drive. We accomplished that through a mobile app, that's Plei. And we also have a management system for soccer facilities that makes their life easier, that's the Plei System.
I talked to a lot of different customers and realized that soccer field managers needed a better way to manage their business.
The idea you initially came to us with was a bit different. It didn’t include the Plei System, only the app for soccer players. How have you seen this opportunity of serving soccer field facilities too?
I think that in any business it’s good to talk to potential customers. Because sometimes we may think we have a really good idea, but the customers and the market hold a different view. And at the end of the day, the market is what’s going to tell you if your idea is good or not.
I talked to a lot of different customers and realized that soccer field managers needed a better way to manage their business. They were doing things in pen and paper and using solutions that were not specific to their industry. So, we decided to build a system that will make their life easier. Moreover, it was going to give us access to field inventory, so that we know in real time which soccer fields are booked and which ones are available. Based on that, we know where to put pick-up games on the Plei app to help managers fill up fields that are going to be unused.
So, the idea just came through talking to a lot of different customers.
Understanding Customer's Wants and Needs
You are the person in your team who communicates with clients. How do you understand what they want?
That's a good question. I talk a lot with soccer facility managers, and I just try to understand what their needs are, and how we can make their life easier while generating more revenue for them.
As for soccer players, we communicate with them a lot too. The first step was to enable them to play soccer any time they want and to connect them with others. Now, the next step is to make their experience better. How can we connect people with similar skill levels? How can we make sure that people are always showing up on time? Sometimes players get late to the game, and it’s not nice. Players only have one hour to play, and if two or three people show up late, that experience isn't so good. So, we have to solve this problem as the next step.
We’re very obsessed with the customer experience and customer satisfaction.
As we know, your mission now is to spread Plei all around the world. Can you share your plans for achieving this? Have you encountered any unexpected challenges so far?
Yes, for sure. Right now we are still only in the United States, but it's such a big country, there is so much to do. Right now we're preparing to launch in New York. That's a really big market, and it's exciting to go there.
In each city we go into, it's a little different because they have their own culture, and the way they do things is a little different. So, it’s always interesting to go into a new city, we always learn a lot. Once we launch internationally, there's going to be some things that we need to adjust like the currency and the language, just little things. But overall, we found a model that really works, across every city. So, now it's just about replicating it over and over again, while keeping the same customer satisfaction. We want to make sure that players always have the best experience, whether we're having one game a day or a thousand games a day.
We’re growing very, very fast. In the last five months, the company has doubled in size.
Entrepreneur Role in App Development Process
How do you know if the application has technical issues such as performance issues?
The main way is user feedback. If somebody experiences a bug on Plei, they let us know. We created a customer service team that consists of ten of us. And we have a group chat that is only for bugs. Anytime somebody reports a bug, we put it there, that’s how we keep track of it. Then I hand this information over to the development team.
How often do you have to make adjustments into the app development process?
Yes, that's another thing I do, I manage the app development project. Together with the team, we work on things that will make our life easier when it comes to managing so many games, like more automation. Besides, there's customer feedback. If there's a bug, that's what we will work on. Sometimes there is a critical bug, like yesterday. When that happens, we stop what we're working on to fix it because if it's critical, it means it's affecting user experience. That's how we have to adjust.
If you’re building a technology company, you should know your technology.
Do you think that an entrepreneur should understand these technical details and how does an application work? Or is it not necessary?
For sure, if you're building a technology company, you should know your technology. That doesn't mean you need to know how to program like a senior engineer. But you should know what the engineers are talking about, how they're building things, why they are building it this way vs that way. You should know it because the app is like your baby. Shouldn’t you know everything about your baby?
The company’s grown with our partnership.
Another thing I took away from the talk with our developers is that they really appreciate and respect you as a customer that they can really dream of.
I appreciate them a lot too. I consider you, guys, a family at this point. We've been working together for six years in total. And it's been amazing, honestly. The company's grown with our partnership. You, guys, saw everything from the beginning, and now the company is just really, really big. And it's going to keep growing. It's only started.
And I'm pretty happy about the work we do with the development team. There are things that come up, we talk about it, and we solve it. The team and I do a good job of communicating, whenever there are issues on either side. I think any relationship can be good just by having good communication. Because then there is full transparency of what we are talking about.
Find out more details about Plei project in our portfolio!