Who Are These Startups Podcast

Javelin Sports on Who Are These Startups

Javelin Sports on Who Are These Startups

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Welcome back to Who Are These Startups. Podcast shorts featuring founders of Canadian startups, hosted by the Startup Coach. This episode features Javelin Sports with Justin Ford.


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Short Startup Interviews with Canadian Founders

Javelin Sports on Who Are These Startups Transcript (Automated)

Javelin Sports on Who Are These Startups

The Startup Coach: Welcome to who are these start-ups podcast shorts, featuring founder interviews of Canadian startups. Welcome back to who are these startups? I’m your host and startup coach. Founder of Toronto starts one of the largest startup communities in Canada. And with me today is Justin Ford CEO and co-founder of javelin sports. Welcome Justin.

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: Thanks, Craig.

The Startup Coach: Let’s jump right into it. What does javelin sports. 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: So javelin sports is an organization whose goal is to make it easier to play sports. We operate with the core belief that sports are social. So we put most of our time and effort into focusing on building sport communities and then providing them good ways to communicate with each other.

Through working with sports players, organizations, leagues in this manner, we’ve grown a player base of over 30,000 players. And recently we’ve been kind of expanding on what we currently offered to also allow players to. Match with other players, one-to-one in their area to chat with them and that way, and then also even book places.

The Startup Coach: What is javelin sports startup story. So 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: we actually started as a group project that I was working on in my final year at university. I didn’t actually think I necessarily wanted to go into entrepreneurship when I was younger, but through building out this group project, I guess I kind of caught the entrepreneurship bug.

I really enjoyed the work we were doing for that. I managed to speak with some of our clients and this was in the sports space. So it was a problem that I’m really passionate about solving. So everything kind of aligned. Uh, we launched in 2017 and since then have been kind of slowly scaling up what.

There’s a number of different things that drive me. Initially, I started working on this once again, cause I just want it to make it easier to play sports. I played a lot as a kid, but after I graduated high school, I was playing less and less. There had to be some way to fix this issue. And there has to be other people who are facing my problems.

If you look at numbers, I think 27% of adults are actively playing sports. Whereas about 76% of them say they want to either start playing or play more. So there’s this big gap. And we thought if we could build something that simplifies the process makes it easier to connect with people in your area, easier to find games, easier to communicate with other players.

Then we could truly increase sports participation rates around the world. With that being said, Toronto has really bustling startup ecosystem. I know you’re one of the big drivers behind that. So, so thank you for all the work you’re doing there, Craig, through speaking and meeting with a lot of these entrepreneurs and other founders, I started to see from an overall view, just how interesting and exciting the startup community is.

So I’m now viewing this as kind of the first of many, hopefully business ventures that I’m working on with just the intent of, of helping solve big problems through the use of, of connecting the right people and having the right resources going into. How do you define 

The Startup Coach: success? 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: For me, success is, is usually actually driven by the feedback that I get from my customers.

When we have someone reply that they really like what we built, that we’re helping them a lot. When we see them coming back, that’s really what makes me feel successful. I know that if I really pinpoint, prioritizing giving my users a good experience and helping them. Interact with the product that will allow us to keep moving towards product market fit and keep becoming more successful.

What is your business? So we were actually initially charging people to set up teams within javelin. So you would pay us 20 bucks to purchase a team. You could then invite everyone, schedule events, send announcements, chat with your teammates. You can, or can’t come. We’ve actually pivoted away from that because we didn’t want to put kind of that blocker on preventing people from playing sports.

So when we launched this new facility booking fee system within our mobile app, it’s actually. In a nice way, allowed us to transition the way we make money from charging people upfront into. We will now take a cut on payments that we process. So if you’re booking something through javelin, we take a cut off of that.

It allows us to only make money when we’re actively helping people 

The Startup Coach: get paid. What is your funding situation? Uh, so 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: we’re mostly bootstrapped. We did have an initial investment. W who put in, uh, wrote a small check that allowed us to kind of initially build out our MVP and test out the product. And then when the pandemic hit, we managed to get some, some government grants to expand the team a little bit.

Don’t have any real investor money right now. Uh, we are looking to start a race through. What 

The Startup Coach: do you wish you knew before you started at javelin sports? 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: I was trying to do the lean startup method, uh, when I was initially launching this, but I don’t think I took the right approach to it essentially. Uh, I started off by building this mobile app that did like a million things kind of okay.

And we thought that was a lean way to go about, but in hindsight, I should have focused on doing one thing extremely well, that would have been the biggest thing. I’d change. If I could start over 

The Startup Coach: what has been your biggest learning? 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: You learn a lot of things really quickly in the startup world. I always like to say that, you know, it’s one of the best learning opportunities you can have.

Probably the biggest learning things was the power of people. Just how important it is to connect the right people with the right problems or the right other individuals to solve these big problems. 

The Startup Coach: Biggest lesson in pitching your startup. 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: I can talk about this for hours. We were actually planning a raise previously.

We had about 10% of the round committed, but we ultimately decided not to close it because we were in a pretty comfortable place financially. We didn’t need the money. So we thought we could get our app to a better place and then do a raise for, for more money later on through that process, there’s been a few big things I’ve learned, but probably the biggest thing is how much it’s just like a second.

Uh, experience or how close it is to sales. You really need to build your own raising process. You need to be taking control of the whole flow, right from the initial conversation to how to move the conversations to the next level, how to vet out that this investor is even a good individual for you, similar to the prospecting stage and how to tell your story in a way that gets people engaged and gets them to want to get involved.

The Startup Coach: What’s your favorite productivity? 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: So I bullet journal, essentially. It allows me to keep a note of everything I do for the day. It also allows me to track how my whole kind of month is going with my monthly goals. And then I also have a yearly goals area as well. That would probably be my most valuable productivity.

The Startup Coach: What Canadian startup resources have been most 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: helpful to you? So I mentioned previously how important people are. So any ones that are really connecting people, I’ve found a lot of value from, uh, so obviously Toronto starts is amazing. Uh, Craig, you do a great job connecting everyone and then there’s some other great, uh, accelerators as well.

Yeah. Recently I’ve been working out a lot of Communitech they’ve been really good. So having regular calls and connecting you with some great people, do you have any tips for. Easiest tip is to just start small, start off with a small, simple product, try to validate it. Don’t think you have to necessarily go all in right away.

If you can build out an MVP and you’re not getting really pulled into the industry. Then maybe you just validated that there’s not a real problem there. So by starting off with something small, putting it in front of some people and seeing if there’s a lot of interest in, if there’s a lot of excitement for what you’re building, I think that’ll tell you pretty quickly.

If, if you should be putting more work into this, or if it’s maybe not something to invest your time into one book, every 

The Startup Coach: founder. Probably 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: zero to one. Peter field really identifies a lot of the, or a lot of the ways to give value to your customers. 

The Startup Coach: Where can our listeners connect with you and javelin sports?

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: So we have a website www dot Jablon sports, Inc com that kind of gives a full overview of everything we do. We also have our mobile app javelin that’s where all the magic happens. So if you are looking to play sports, I recommend you check it out. And outside of that, I’m also on LinkedIn, Justin Ford, feel free to, uh, send me an invite just to make sure you include a note there of, uh, where you heard of me. Cause I, I get a lot of connection requests. 

The Startup Coach: Thank you, Justin, for taking the time to be part of who are these. 

Justin Ford of Javelin Sports: Thank you, Greg. I appreciate it. 

The Startup Coach: This has been who are these startups find out more at? Who are these startups.com and check out our live events@torontostarts.com slash events.


The Startup Coach

The Startup Coach

Craig Major is the Startup Coach and founder of TorontoStarts the largest startup community in Canada. He works with startups and investors all day everyday.

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