A West Belfast company that is transforming the fortunes of sports clubs across Ireland and the UK plans to open a base in the US early next year, creating an additional 20 jobs in Belfast.
Concept Apps, based at the Innovation Factory on the Springfield Road, developed Team Fee Pay a new web based application that makes it easier and more efficient for sports clubs to collect payments from members.
The partners in the company are all involved in sports development and volunteer as team coaches; together they have over 150 years of experience. They noticed one big universal problem that affects clubs everywhere, which they felt they could solve.
“The biggest issue facing sports clubs is that they are operating at 50-70% of the revenue that they should because people fail to pay their subs, or don’t turn up from week to week. In addition there can be long queues on practice days to pay fees and they may have two or three means to pay which creates an accounting nightmare,” explained Darren McArdle, Operations Director for Team Fee Pay.
“Everyone wants their club to be the best – to have the top facilities, the greatest coaches and the best equipment. You can’t do that unless everyone pays their subs. Once you increase that level, it frees up capital for investment,” he added.
The partners connected with a former friend and Technology expert, who is now a partner in the business, who developed an application that allows them to build a bespoke payment system for each club offering a safe and secure payment service for users. It also means the club can easily monitor payments.
They now have over 100 clubs with 16,000 users. Examples of success have been Glenavon FC and Carnmoney Ladies FC, which quickly achieved 100% payment collection, providing a budget boost for new equipment for the season.
Currently employing four people, Concept Apps was identified as a business that would reach a multi-million dollar valuation in USA during the Mass Challenge in Boston in the summer. During that visit to Boston the company has created many links, distribution channels and is all set for the big move stateside.
“All of our customer service and back end support will continue to be based in Belfast at the Innovation Factory. The location really suits us and the flexibility to take on more space really works for us – we’ve already been able to expand into additional offices as the business has grown. We will need to offer round the clock support as we will be working in multiple time zones so that fact that Innovation Factory is open 24 hours a day with on-site parking and security is essential for us,” he said.
“We’ve had great support from Innovation Factory, especially in providing on-going strategy discussions with our leadership team around funding and commercialisation,” he added.
Majella Barkley, Innovation Director at the Innovation Factory said: “Concept Apps is exactly the type of forward looking company that this facility was set up to help develop. It is very exciting that they are attracting such interest in the United States which has a multi-billion dollar sports sector.”
Innovation Factory is owned by Belfast City Council and operated on their behalf by Oxford Innovation. The £9.1m business hub was funded by Belfast City Council and Invest NI with support from the European Regional Development Fund.
Customers include a range of start-ups and growing businesses in a variety of sectors including digital services, creative industries, business services, financial services and research and development.
For more information on the Innovation Factory visit: www.innovationfactoryni.com