‘Spotify for sports’ app Locker opens $1.5m funding round

Locker [getlocker.com], the Irish and Indiana based sports start-up expects to raise a $1.5m round in the coming months. In June 2021, the company announced its first pre seed round of $800,000.

Founded in 2020, Locker is a mobile-platform designed to bring personalized sports content from trusted sources directly to fans. Having launched in the Irish market in recent weeks, the company now has its eyes firmly set on the US and is raising a new funding round to facilitate product development and a 2022 US launch.

Locker provides users with a single app to find and consume stories and stats on the topics they love, from the providers they know and trust. It uses machine learning and trusted aggregation to pull together hundreds of the world’s most reputable publishers, delivering the latest in trending and reliable news, conveniently tailored to the user’s sports tastes. The first phase of the app gives users free news content and sports statistics, with video and audio functionality updates being rolled out to users in the second phase. Locker is free for sports fans to download and use.

In addition, in early 2022, Locker Pro, the app’s premium service, will enable fans to subscribe to the individual sports sections of some of the world’s top paywalled publishers, rather than having to pay for their entire offering. This is a first of its kind approach to micro-subscriptions in publishing.

A team with a proven track record in sports publishing, subscriptions and betting.

The start-up was founded in 2020 by Ross O’Dwyer – the former CEO, and Co-Founder of Irish sports publisher Pundit Arena, along with Brian Quinn the former Commercial & Marketing Director of Setanta Sports and Eir Sport. Together with Wayne Muller the former CTO of fantasy sports app Jock Mkt they have over three decades of experience in the sports media and subscriptions industry.

In July 2020 they were the first Irish sports company to be accepted into the prestigious Techstars Sports Accelerator Programme in Indianapolis. This highly competitive accelerator program is designed for sports tech companies focused on the future of sport, and less than 1% of applicants are accepted. Locker was also accepted to the Sportradar Acceleradar programme and was a winner of the Google Adopt-a-Start-up programme in May this year, which seeks to further accelerate the growth of high potential start ups.

Partnership Driven Ecosystem

While Locker is building a personalised platform for users, the team is placing a major emphasis on providing a unique product and tools for publishers to maximise their revenues, fan understanding and growth. Connecting premium publishers to fans they haven’t reached before is an initial key aim for this partnership driven team.

In the coming months, Locker will be announcing a range of innovative partnerships with some of the world’s top rights-holders and media houses.

The innovative start-up works with both paywalled and free content providers to maximise their return on the content they are already producing, while providing custom built analytics to understand their user base.

Ross O’Dwyer, CEO, Locker said: ‘‘At Locker we are passionate about great sports journalism. There is a world of brilliant sports content out there, the frustrating part is how we consume it. Why do sports fans have to go to so many places on a daily basis to find their favourite content? From news websites and league apps, to social platforms and podcast apps, it’s a pain to have to switch between locations and endlessly search for what you really want. It shouldn’t have to be this way. Our mission is to deliver the personalised world sports fans deserve, through a single, free to use app where fans can easily find and consume the stories they need to see from sources they trust. Locker is putting the power back in the hands of the fan.’’

‘Locker is not another content creator, in fact as a technology company we don’t create any content, but rather it works with publishers to support growth, providing transparency, insights and solutions they aren’t getting elsewhere. We care about supporting quality sports content and journalism at local, national and international levels, and will work with our partners to create a sustainable platform for all stakeholders.’

‘‘Written content and stats is only the beginning of our journey. We’re looking forward to adding audio, video, live sports and other core items in the coming months to create the complete sporting experience. We’re also delighted to have such great investors, partners and mentors who believe in our vision to transform this space.’’

Partnering alongside other technology innovators has also been key to Locker delivering on its vision. Alongside Sportradar and Stats Perform, two of the world’s largest sports stats providers, Locker is also working alongside Irish-based Newswhip. Newswhip’s technology tracks and predicts the impact of millions of stories in real-time and empowers Locker to recommend the top trending sports stories as they begin to break, so sports fans never miss the headlines that matter.

We believe this will change how fans consume sports news.

“We are excited about the launch of Locker, which we believe will change how fans consume sports news,” said Jordan Fliegel, Managing Director of the Techstars Sports Accelerator. “This is a great founding team that understands sports fans, publishers, advertising and subscriptions. Locker was a great addition to our sports accelerator in Indianapolis, one which particularly excited our partners around the US opportunity including the Indiana Pacers (Pacers Sports & Entertainment), the NCAA and the Indianapolis Colts.”

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