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Cibos : Sports Fan Mobile App

http://www.cibosapp.com/

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Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Mr. ‘Rick Gehman’; President of the Pennsylvania – USA start-up “Cibos”.

Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

CibosApp, LLC created a mobile app for the Android and iOS platforms. The app is targeting at the sports fan and places sports scores within the users Twitter timeline. We used an algorithm to determine what game a user is tweeting about and affix the score of the game at the time of the tweet, directly below that tweet. These are called “GameStamps”. It adds context and useful information to Twitter. A tweet that would read “what a shot by LeBron #heat”, does not make much sense if you aren’t watching the game or reading it right away. Cibos allows you to follow the progress of the game through your own personal Twitter Timeline or catch up on the game later.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?

Our startup was founded in August 2012 and we launched our product January 1, 2014. We provided a soft-launch to make sure our servers could handle the increased traffic. After about seven days and extensive work to absolutely confirm we were ready, we fully launched our product which is currently available in iOS and Android app stores.

3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?

We have a few different revenue streams that are available to us. We have partnered with a company called 140 Proof that provides us with targeting ads that are built to resemble tweets. These are non-intrusive to the user experience, and perform better than traditional banner ads. This relationship is purely a CPM model. We also have the ability to sell “GameStamps” to companies or individuals. For example, McDonalds could purchase a package to offers Cibos users a BOGO offer every time they tweet. Also, we can “stamp” tweets that are specific for companies. If someone tweets that they “really want McDonalds”, we could stamp that tweet and show them the five nearest McDonald’s locations. Finally, the third revenue source, is providing an API for other apps or websites to use. We would provide our algorithm to them so they can stamp either sporting events or any other information they may need.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

We have a few different revenue streams that are available to us. We have partnered with a company called 140 Proof that provides us with targeting ads that are built to resemble tweets. These are non-intrusive to the user experience, and perform better than traditional banner ads. This relationship is purely a CPM model. We also have the ability to sell “GameStamps” to companies or individuals. For example, McDonalds could purchase a package to offers Cibos users a BOGO offer every time they tweet. Also, we can “stamp” tweets that are specific for companies. If someone tweets that they “really want McDonalds”, we could stamp that tweet and show them the five nearest McDonald’s locations. Finally, the third revenue source, is providing an API for other apps or websites to use. We would provide our algorithm to them so they can stamp either sporting events or any other information they may need.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

There are certainly other social media/Twitter options available, and there are certainly other sports app options available. However, none of them connect the two quite like Cibos does. Cibos allows users to use their personal Twitter timelines, something that no other sports app allows. There is a reason that you follow the users that you do on Twitter, and we allow you do see your normal Cibos experience with a sports enhancement.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?

Cibos is in its infancy. We have only been available in the app store starting on Jan. 1, 2014, so about three weeks. For ten days, we were in a “soft-launch” which required users to have a password to access the app. At the time of this writing, we have a few hundred users and are looking to pick up traction.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?

Our competitors are the sports applications that have some type of social component to them. Our competitive advantage is our “secret sauce” that lies within our algorithm. We are able to determine what specific sporting event a tweet is written about with an extremely high level of accuracy and always getting better.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

The biggest obstacle we face and still face is that this is our first start-up. We have business degrees, but were thrown into the start-up world with no prior successes or failures. We are learning on the fly and trying to make the best decisions possible. We have forged some valuable relations that we are trying to take advantage of, but the most important resource we use is knowledge and experience.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

The mobile app space runs at a speed unlike other industries. The landscape changes every week and if you are thirty days behind a trend, you might as well be thirty years behind a trend. It is so competitive because every eleven year old, every seventy year old, and everyone in between is somewhere in the world making an app or a product to compete with you. The business is 24/7/365. We routinely do business of holidays and we are on call every hour throughout the day. It is the definition of a grind.

 10. Why are you going to succeed?

We will succeed because we have a product that makes the social media experience better for the user. The second screen experience is a real phenomenon. Users are on their smartphones and tablets while watching TV more than ever. We fit right into the growing trend and provide a solution to a problem that existed for sports fans.

11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

If we are successful we have a few areas we can expand into. We can take our technology into our fields of interest. For example, stamping tweets that have to do with TV Shows, News, Movies, or Pop Culture. If we decide that Sports is our niche, we can implement other social media networks to become a more complete sports social media experience.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?

I had the “aha!” moment when I was trying to follow sports on Twitter. We tried everything to squash the idea and figure out all the reasons it WOULDN’T work. After weeks of vetting the idea and asking Twitter users and sports fans, we had no choice but to move forward with the idea. It was a hit out of the gate and we haven’t looked back since!

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

We have learned that there is no “magic bullet”. We get out what we put in. You have to network, make contacts, establish relationships to get the word out. It’s nearly impossible to just flip the switch and launch your product and have the whole world know about it. Every day is a grind and there are no shortcuts.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Hopefully our biggest problem is we have so many users, our servers can’t keep up! More likely, our biggest problem will be determining which way to go. Do we add more sports and become a full sports social media application? Do we add world news, television, and pop culture features? I think our users will tell us which way to go, but we will at some point have to make that very difficult decision.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

The user, who is a sports fan, now has everything they need within one application. They no longer read a tweet about the game and have to leave the app to check the score. They no longer have to run to the TV to find out how many points a player has because it’s in their timeline. Twitter has the ability to break news, so very often if a player or team is doing something special, Twitter is how a sports fan finds out about it With Cibos, the added context is right at their fingertips.

16. How did customers / users find out about you?

We have been leveraging word of mouth for the most part. We have run a few paid advertisements on Facebook as well and Reddit. We were featured on a few niche websites that have driven traffic to both our website and app. It’s amazing to see that we have already been downloaded in nearly every state and dozens of countries.

17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?

Our target user is a sports fan that uses Twitter. We are noticing that on days that have many sporting events (for example, Sundays during the NFL season), our usage numbers are very high. If our users are watching sports, they are using Cibos. The second screen experience is so prevalent and Cibos is the perfect fit.

18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

We are so early into our business that it is still difficult to see where our new users are coming from. I would assume the majority come from “discovery” considering this type of application and technology has not existed before. We are hoping to pick up some traction with various websites and blogs, which we believe will bring in a large number of new users.

19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?

So far, the feedback has been outstanding. We currently have perfect ratings in both the app stores in which we are available. We have heard users say “I can’t believe I ever lived without this” and “this changed the way I watch sports”. We did extensive Beta testing and received tons of feedback along the way that reflect the current state of the app.

20. How are you going to scale?

Fortunately, since we do not have a physical product that requires inventory, scaling for us is pretty straight-forward. As our users increase, so will our server demands. We may have to alter the amount of information that we store on our servers so that it doesn’t slow down the experience for the user.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

We are in the works of a “spoiler feature”. For example, you’re at a wedding and your favorite NFL team is playing. You are DVRing the game at home and plan to watch it later. The typical user has to avoid social media altogether so they are not spoiled as to the results. We are working on a way to identify the game being tweeted about and REMOVING those tweets from the users timeline. Every time we mention it, it gets rave reviews and people beg us to implement it!

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

We are already downloaded in dozens of different countries. We are focused on the big 4 American sports at the moment. As we move into international soccer and different sports that have varying followings across the globe, we will need to make some adjustments. We will have to translate the apps until the different languages of which we will begin to support.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

I believe the sky is truly the limit! We could reach over one million users if everything goes right. There is certainly the market for our application. There are plenty of Twitter users and fans of all sports. We will be implementing some viral aspects to the apps. That way you can see the benefits even if you are not using Cibos. It should give users jsut a taste and hopefully encourage them to download our app.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

No, at the current moment we are not looking to hire a new workforce. We are comfortable with the size we are. If we were looking to expand it would be with employees who could maintain our ever-changing databases of sports teams, players, terms, etc. We also always look to improve every aspect of our company. If we can across an opportunity to have developers in-house on salary that could be constantly maintaining the applications, that would be extremely appealing.

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where potential can partners / investors contact you at?

We have been funded through a seed round that allowed us to finish development, pay our largest expenses and promote the application to start. We believe we can be mostly self-sustainable when scaling, but we are always open to other funding sources. Ideally, strategic partners that with insight, experience, and funding could take us to the next level.

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

WORK HARD! Business, especially startups, are completely volatile. You have more competitors than you can count and they are working around the clock like yourself! Simply work harder and put in the effort. Effort cannot be measured; it is between you and you!

27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

As with any business, we are always looking for more users. We believe we have something special that the world wants and needs! We just have to let them know we exist!

 

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