Wellington-based cricket platform CricHQ has put some serious runs on the board, with data science and funding.
CricHQ was formed by Karori club cricketer and IT professional Simon Baker, who was unable to find a cricket scoring app he liked. So he started thinking about one of his own making.
Callaghan Innovation’s Wellington Regional Business Partner WREDA (then called Grow Wellington) encouraged Baker to get serious about the idea of making a business of the software.
Along with securing the involvement of influential and well-connected cricketers Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum, the initial technology project grant in 2010 was the kickstarter that CricHQ needed, Baker says.
“It was motivational and made me take the leap from continuing a traditional career to something I may well not have done, forming a start-up. Once the kickstarter investment was approved, you’ve really not got an excuse for not throwing yourself into this and making a go of the business.”
In the six years since that initial investment, CricHQ has grown to become the preeminent platform for cricket worldwide. Over half the 105 national governing bodies in the sport have signed up with CricHQ, players and administrators use it score over 200,000 games annually, and the company has 75 staff in five countries.
As well as some substantial private capital investment, Callaghan Innovation provided further project funding.
Callaghan Innovation also put its data science expertise onto the job, working on a predictive analysis tool to deliver coaches at all levels valuable data and information on the performance of their teams and individual players.
The company was “global from day one,” taking a top-down and bottom-up approach to growth.
“We’re top-down based on connections in the cricketing world originally through Fleming and McCullum’s credibility, and bottom up through the Mums and Dads who were the early adopters of the technology.”
The rise of the middle class in India, cricket’s biggest and most financially influential market, is a real boon for CricHQ.
“Early on in the journey I pitched to a venture capitalist who decided not to invest because in his eyes Indians wouldn’t buy smartphones, but now if you look at the Indian market there are over 100 million smartphones shipped annually, and what's more, they’ve skipped the whole internet banking revolution – making them digital wallet innovators.
“Five years ago, that investor wouldn’t have been able to imagine the middle class of India paying for things off their mobile phones.”
Now the company is focusing on development and acquisitions to ensure the platform, which sees 100 million page views during a New Zealand summer alone, remains at the forefront for users from junior club cricket to the prestigious English County circuit.
“Video is an essential part of our strategy, we’ve known that right from the start – but we didn’t want to start with that.”
Instead, CricHQ acquired English video technology business My Action Replay, which they estimate has chopped two years from the time it would otherwise have taken them to get to market.
“Callaghan’s been bloody great for CricHQ, just amazing really,” says Baker. He’s even magnanimous about the paperwork involved in the grant process.
“I remember at one point there was a lot of paperwork, and I’ve heard Callaghan Innovation being criticised for that, but we were applying for a $1.5 million grant – you don’t expect to get that from a tweet.”
He’s also a fan of our Regional Business Partners: “I would encourage people starting out to meet with their regional economic development agency, even if just for the advice and networks that they can provide”.
First published May 2017.
Updated: 19 October 2017