BATFAST, a manufacturer of intelligent simulators to increase participation in sport, was dreamed up during a phone call between two friends in 2011.
The pair wondered, why does it have to be so challenging to play cricket as you get older, and what can be done to make it better?
Seven years later and founders Runish Gudkha and Jignesh Patel have a business dedicated to giving people of all ages and abilities the opportunities to play.
We caught up with Gudkha to find out more about this unusual business story.
Your legacy: What do you want your business to be remembered for?
We want to be remembered for getting more people active and happy playing sport.
Your business model:
We manufacture sports simulators and sell/rent them to B2B customers like professional cricket clubs, junior and adult teams, leisure operators, schools etc. We have a thriving corporate events business where our simulators provide an alternative, yet fun and engaging experience for our corporate clients.
We also operate our own simulators in different markets which can be white labelled for our clients.
How do you measure success?
The number of people playing on our simulators. Over 30,000 users played on our simulators in 2017 and we’re on track to at least double that in 2018.
Growth plans: Do you plan to trade globally, enter new markets, etc in the next 12 months?
Yes, we already have a presence in five countries globally, and are looking for partners in North America and South-East Asia.
How did you fund your business?
We were able to develop our first prototype using money from a University College of London (UCL) grant. Further funding came from our previous full-time employment and capital sourced from angel investors.
Your biggest technology boost: What technology does your business absolutely rely on and why?
The internet – the core of everything. We’re able to connect our simulators to mobile devices and tablets so they can be remotely controlled, a key part of our model.
In five years: Where do you see your business then? Where do you see your industry then?
We hope to have over a million people playing on our simulators regularly.
Another goal will be for users to have access to BATFAST on-demand, utilising an app where users can reserve their local BATFAST system. They then unlock the system with their phone and once finished, end the session, pay their bill and have access to all their shot data, videos and analysis from the session.
Your highest point: What is your greatest business achievement?
I feel that as I am still a young entrepreneur the highest point is still to come. However, I always enjoy hearing positive feedback from customers, team members and investors.
Your lowest point: What was your biggest entrepreneurial mistake?
I make mistakes every day but they’re all valuable lessons and we learn from them.
What would you tell your younger self?
Have as much fun as you can – enjoy the moment.
Your policy wish list: What do you want to see from the Government in an ideal world?
I feel the government in the UK is very well attuned to a lot of things – however the cost of education and debt on young people is very high, which I feel limits innovation.
Your biggest piece of advice to other entrepreneurs:
Trust yourself and never give up – always build a strong team around you – start with why
A day in your life: What is your daily routine and why?
My working mornings are very structured; I’ll get to work, look at to-do list, spend time catching up with team members and action urgent items from my to-do list. The afternoon usually varies but can be spent forward planning and coming up with creative ideas.
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