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Irish Start-Up Locker Secures $700,000 in Pre-Seed Funding

The Irish start-up Locker has secured pre-seed funding of $700,000 as it seeks to launch its sports new app in the Irish market.

Locker is a new mobile platform which personalises sports news and stats for fans on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Story. In addition, it has announced the closure of a $700,000 pre-seed funding round. This round was supported by the Western Development Commission, along with the Techstars Sports Accelerator powered by Indy, the world’s top sports accelerator, as well as a range of prominent media and technology investors from across the US and Europe.

Locker is the first ever sports news service that provides users with a single app to find and consume stories and stats on the topics they love, from the providers they 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 sporting tastes. The first phase of the app will give users free news content and sports statistics, with audio functionality updates being rolled out to users in the second phase, as Locker launches in the US market. Locker is free for sports fans to join and use.

Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said:

“We welcome the launch of Locker, and their location along Ireland’s Atlantic Coast reflects the growing importance of sectors aligned to the broader Creative Economy. Locker highlights the on-going value of quality content and Ireland’s western region has the talent and supports as a springboard for global growth in that dynamic sector.”

In addition, in early 2022, Locker Pro, the premium version, will launch to 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.

The start-up was founded in 2020 by Ross O’Dwyer – the former CEO, and Co-Founder of Pundit Arena, along with Brian Quinn the former Commercial & Marketing Director of Setanta Sports and Eir Sport, Andrew Pierse and Matt Steerman. Together, they have over three decades of experience in the sports media and subscriptions industry.

First Irish Participant in The TechStars Sport Accelerator Programme

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. The team took part in the programme remotely during COVID-19.  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 Irish start ups. Locker also continues to be a client of the Galway Local Enterprise Office, which has supported Locker’s initial set up phase.

Locker also partnered with Stats Perform, the global stats provider. Through this partnership the Locker app gives users access to real-time insights and stats on their favourite teams and players. Stats Perform is the largest sports data provider in the world providing real-time stats for dozens of major leagues including the NFL, NBA, Premier League, La Liga and the PGA Tour.

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, initially with written content, with audio and video to come in the near future.

Locker will include a diverse range of sports, from major sports such as soccer, rugby, GAA and golf, to growing sports such as esports and cycling. For fans of women’s sport, Locker will empower fans to personalize their feeds to bring together the world’s best coverage in one place.

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 whatsoever, 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 regional, 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 so grateful to have investors, partners and mentors who believe in our vision to transform this space.’’

Changing 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 Fliegal, Managing Director of Techstars Sports Accelerator.

“This is a great founding team that understands sports fans, publishers, advertising and subscriptions.  Locker was a great addition to the Techstars Indianapolis programme, one which particularly excited our partners around the US opportunity including the Indianapolis Colts, the Indiana Pacers and the NCAA.”

Following the Irish launch, Locker will set its sights on a US launch in 2022.

Source: Western Development Commission

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