Betting firms circle Sportlobster network

SCOTS-BORN entrepreneur Andy Meikle is already fielding approaches from major players in the online betting industry, just months after launching Sportlobster, a social network for sports fans.

The 28-year-old, who founded the business in London with Arron Shepherd in April, last week raised $1 million (£635,900) from Wychwood Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Luxembourg.

Meikle, whose father is Scottish and mother Chilean, moved with his family to ­Dubai when he was young and recently spent four years in the United States on a football – or soccer – scholarship. Injury put paid to his aspirations to become a professional footballer but he ended up with a business degree and the idea for Sportlobster.

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He hit upon the concept when he was impressed by a blog he read about tennis ace Novak Djokovic and the number of people who had commented on it.

Meikle said: “The penny dropped. People have to search for these things across the internet and there are different destinations for news, placing bets and reading or writing blogs. There are multiple websites and apps. I thought a one-stop shop would be right.”

The duo found an investor to put in some seed capital, who in turn introduced them to John Paul Keane, managing director at Wychwood Capital Partners.

The company, which now employs 14 staff, will launch its app for iPhone at the end of the month.

Sportlobster currently provides platforms for 32 sports, including complete news and fixture information for the “big seven” most-popular games in Europe – football, rugby, tennis, golf, cricket, basketball and Formula One.

The company plans to move into the US market by adding content for American football, ice hockey and college football.

Much of the information on Sportlobster is provided through news and data providers such as Press Association and Opta Sports, as well as fan-sourced content.

Meikle said the company will have to build a commercial team to meet demand from potential partners.

“We’ve only been around for four months but we already have had so many businesses approach us to see how they can be featured on our site and partner up with us,” he said.

“A lot of social networks have been built with the purpose of trying to be acquired quite quickly. That is why a lot of them are not even sure that their revenue streams are. For us we are building a business and we are building it to be profitable.

“We have already been approached by large betting sites. They are all showing an interest in one of our potential revenue streams.”