A new app lets soccer stars and experts pass their training, tactics and mental fortitude on to soccer-happy children and adolescents. “Talent development needs to be available for everyone regardless of gender, age, size and talent,” the creators say.
“The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game, every minute, every second.”
Al Pacino shouts these words to encourage the American football team he coaches in the legendary sports drama Any Given Sunday (1999), and it is a speech that still sends chills down the spines of viewers.
It certain did for Anders Randrup, former professional soccer player, when he watched the film. Along with entrepreneur Rasmus Bruun and angel investor and co-founder of the TechBBQ expo Daniel Laursen, he has launched a new app that gives soccer-playing children and youths sage advice, mental exercises and video content from professional players and coaches. And naturally, the app’s name is a nod to Pacino’s fiery speech: InchByInch.
Just a few button presses, and Emiliano Marcondes of Bournemouth is explaining his free kick technique, Nicoline Sørensen of Everton is sharing good offense tips, or Per Thølesten, chef for the Danish National Men’s Team, is explaining his pre-match menu. It does not matter if the user wants to go pro, or just wants to improve.
The platform is initially free and has already had more than 7,500 downloads since its launch in June. But the aim is to make InchByInch a premium product with a fixed monthly subscription fee.
“We are not an elite product; we are a wide-reaching product. We want to encourage as many as possible to play soccer for as long as possible. Talent development needs to be available for everyone regardless gender, age, size and talent. We want little Lise or Lars in Svebølle to have access to the same quality training they have in FC København, FC Midtjylland, or Brøndby IF. The best training should be available to everyone,” says Bruun, Managing Partner of the company.
Destined for Football
Even before he stopped in professional soccer, Randrup had tested his mettle as entrepreneur. After he met Bruun and Laursen in the start-up circles, they all quickly agreed on a direction.
“We really were problem-oriented before we were business-oriented. We knew that we wanted to work with soccer. For inspiration, we contacted professional players in our network and asked them the same questions that Anders had asked himself. It quickly showed a pattern relating to diet, sleep, and prioritising. From there, we worked out a solution to help the next generation,” says Bruun.
According to the creators of InchByInch, the platform solves some of the problems associated with athletes retiring.
“There are only so many sports commentator and sports expert jobs. That means that all the knowledge and experience many professionals have built throughout their career is lost – unless someone makes an effort to collect and share it,” says Bruun.
A Platform for Everyone
It can be tough and frustration to spend energy in sports when things don’t seem to pan out right. That is why it is important to show children and youths that many stars have faced the exact same challenges as themselves.
“It is important to us that children and youths can see themselves in the content we create. It can be difficult relating to the big stars playing for clubs and on the national team. But if you ask Thomas Delaney about the challenges he faced when he was younger, he will tell you about being a small kid on the field, with all kinds of frustrations. And that is much easier for young people to relate to,” says Bruun.
That is why the founders have teamed up with a ‘digital pedagogue’ to ensure all communication is friendly to the intended users.
“If three white males respectively aged 33, 36, and 46 try to make an app for a certain age group, it is difficult to get it perfectly right. Therefore, we have a digital pedagogue attached to the project, and they are guiding us in how to speak to and with youths,” says Bruun.
Big Dreams and A Sharp Strategy
Professional soccer players like Martin Ørnskov, Daniel Wass, Mikkel Bischoff, Andreas Bjelland, Mike Jensen, and Kevin Mensah have, in addition to appearing in the app’s videos, also invested in InchByInch. Additionally, a couple of angel investors and a loan from Vækstfonden have helped secure a solid start.
As of the time of writing, the company is working to raise capital in the millions for the second round of investment. A following seed-round specially aimed at venture capital funds is already being planned. And this approach has been the strategy right from the start.
“When we founded the company, we immediately approached the venture capital funds and said: ‘You don’t need to tell us we’re out early – we know. But we are talking to you now because we want to be relevant to you two years from now.’ And going forward, we have taken their feedback to heart,” says Bruun.
And that does not dampen ambitions at the sportstech company. Quite the opposite. Bruun dreams of entering the Norwegian, German and English markets in the future, and won’t reject the possibility of expanding to cover other sports disciplines if InchByInch is successful. He believes in the concept that much.
“We are incredibly scalable, because our product requires little more than copying the source code, producing videos for the new market – that way, we’re expanding the business. If we’re lucky enough to get a video with Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, there would be interest from all over the world. There are children in China who would love to know how he practiced when he was 15,” says Bruun.