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How we created the best growing WordPress sports plugin: fuckup story.

Fact: As of the current moment, we have managed to create the most stable growing Sports plugin on the WordPress market - JoomSport. It is growing steadily, and since its first release in 2016, there was no single week when active installs growth went below 0%. No other WordPress sports plugins can say the same about their product!

Active installs growth (the latest 9 months):
 


Downloads number (since the beginning):
 
This was our failure. So were did we fuckup? You might ask…

The story began in 2009 when my partner Andrew decided to develop the solution for managing soccer stats for his own private league. The Joomla extension market was so hungry for sports solutions so once we pulled the first release we got a huge number of free downloads during the first day. It became extremely popular within a short period. We monetized the idea by offering a paid version of the product and started selling it through our site.

The first profit allowed us to hire a small team who would care about product development, testing, and support. Owners still had their primary job outside of the JoomSport at that time. Being in such state for almost 5 years JoomSport software grew without the proper attention to features implemented, code quality and overall strategy.

By the end of 2015, we had a disaster like situation: The Joomla market slowed down significantly, the software became unwieldy with a huge number of clunky features. It was the time to change something…

On November 2015, my partner and I decided to be involved on a full-time basis for JoomSport and change the software we loved.

We developed a strategy that consisted of three points:

  • Rebuild the product to create the best sports stats solution worldwide
  • Port our product to WordPress. So we wouldn’t lose this market point.
  • Create a Mobile App builder integrated with our core solution, allowing us to deal with professional clubs and leagues.


Rebuilding the product (Nov 2015 - Jul 2016):

By the end of 2015, our JoomSport became a product with a huge number of unused and hard to learn features. The UI was poor; naming was terrible so as a result, we started having more and more customers complaining about our solution. “Hard to learn, hard to use, complicated” and “bad looking.”

We wanted to change all of this to create the solution that customers really love.

We started a full product review process at the beginning of 2016. The idea was very simple: "Let's create a product that will be powerful yet VERY simple to learn. Customers will love the simplicity." We then followed the number of directions to achieve the goal.

Here are they:

  • Cut as many features as possible. Remove anything that was not used by many customers.
  • Items naming review. We checked every item to see if it really reflects the value it delivers. As a result, ~80%! of our product strings were replaced.
  • Pages UI. Fully reviewed every single page and implemented many standards for UI as well as coding. Some features were redeveloped from scratch. Bootstrap framework was used to get all pages to the same flat looking and modern view.
  • We started gathering feedback for product ideas on our new feedback portal and were trying to answer "NO" as many times as possible for the new feature requests.
  • Evaluating the new features using a complicated process, so we knew we are adding only critical elements.

By the mid of 2016 we released the new version of JoomSport that was significantly different from what we had till that moment.

Porting our solution to WordPress (Jul 2016 - Jul 2017).

For some reason, the team decided not to port the solution to WordPress in 2014 even we understood the Joomla CMS market had started weakening. There was already a well-known plugin named League Manager on WordPress catalogue and the team thought it would be hard to tackle it.

We did a mistake. At the same time, the first version of SportsPress (current active installs leader) was released. They quickly picked up the empty niche and grew to ~15000 installs by the moment when we brought the first JoomSport release to the public. So, we entered the sport WordPress solutions market a year and a half later than we could! This late market entrance turned into very slow growth in the initial stages. I understand this better now: what if a customer sees the solution with 100 active users and the solution with 100-x time's bigger audience? Of course - many leads don't even install it; don't want to spend their time comparing the leader and others..."   This is what happens when you do not pay proper attention to your product and the markets in time.

The second big mistake we did was actually entering this market after we missed that chance to enter early. After so many efforts spent on solution development, we started the market evaluation. We suddenly realized that the market niche is not that big, and it would be hard to feed our current team and future development even if we were the first and the biggest here.

Asa conclusion, it was fact that we entered the market late – instead of exploring blue oceans we had to fight sharks in red water. A cherry on top, the market was not that big as we expected to be.
If it were there now, I would put my investments into a stand-alone product in a different niche rather than porting our solution to WordPress.  


Creating the Mobile App (July 2017 - Feb 2018)

Another difficult decision we took was building the Mobile App. Extremely expensive development (iOS and Android developers cost a fortune!) took us ages to create and soaked all our investments. We have it now and have the first customers using it successfully. The problem is that such an expensive feature requires quite a lot of efforts to sell it. It is a pity we realized this fact after we’d built this.


Changing our sales method and pricing (April 2018 - May 2018)

One of the best decisions taken was changing our pricing strategy. Starting from 2010 and until May 2018 we were oriented to very low budget customers and were selling onetime fee licenses. This resulted in many small level sales to people that were using our software for ages but never paid us a penny for expensive product development. Our support manager was overloaded with many tech requests that never paid off neither. On the other hand, because of that load, we couldn’t pay proper attention to better customers.

We did two changes: switched to subscription model sales and increased our pricing 2-3 times on different positions. That allowed us to remove extremely low budget customers and free some supporter time for the clients who deserved our attention. The upside of this was that we found a segment of customers who are ready to work with us on a long-term basis that could support us constantly. So now, we don’t try to compete on price, but focus on quality and proper delivery for someone who is ready to start working with our products and rely on our support.

Finally, the subscription model allowed us to count our main business parameters. We counted such critical SAAS financial indicators like Live Time Value (LTV), Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA), Monthly Recurrent Revenue (MRR). We are no longer financially blind! – We know who our customer is, we know how much we can invest in marketing, we can evaluate better the changes and the new product that we implement.


Creating API data connector (July 2018 – December 2018)

This was not part of our strategy. One of our customers paid for this feature and agreed to share the source code with us. We built the soccer data feed integration. Therefore, that allowed our customers to import data into the product for major public soccer leagues. We did not expect much from this feature but in fact, it turned that many customers were interested.

Nowadays not many clubs or leagues (well except some private leagues) want to fill the game results for public leagues their selves manually. Almost every pro level club is looking for the two tools: Automatic data feed for the leagues were they participate + import tool to add their own game results using CSV.

Retrospective

So let do a retrospective of the mistakes we did and the things we learned.

  1. We missed the moment when we should enter the WordPress market in 2014.
  2. We entered the WordPress market when it was full of sports solutions and one big leader.
  3. We entered the niche without the proper market evaluation.
  4. We paid a lot of attention to product quality and building features instead of paying attention to sales processes and active customer relation management.
  5. We built an expensive Mobile solution without proper attention to how we should sell it.

What we do different now:

  • We are now paying a lot of attention to our internal customer relationships and sales processes. CRM, Customer relation processes - are the things we are improving much now.
  • We are always trying to evaluate the market before we start building any features or tools.
  • We are interviewing potential customers. Ideas list and voting are insufficient! We are visiting our customers offline, discussing potential(s) with them and pay a lot of attention to the features they need and use already. So we know what market requires before we build the new solution.
  • Another thing is that we are paying attention to niches that are popular with tech investors. Not because of the money but mostly because they reflect the potential interest in modern software.

What is next on our roadmap?

Based on that customer interest, DATA become our key focus now and we are planning two new ventures in that area. The first one will be creating big soccer database to become a reliable soccer data feeds provider. We started creating Statorium football API service already and plan to release to the public shortly. The second one will be dedicated to scouting and will use Machine Learning technologies to improve player selection process for professional soccer clubs and intermediate agents.

Keep tuned for our updates, we are creating something cool!

Thanks for reading!
Dmitry,
the BearDev team co-founder.

 

p.s. Many thanks to Kraftblik marketing agency and Bruce Ogilvie for helping me with this post prep!

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JSN Megazine 2 - new Joomla sports and magazine template integrated with JoomSport

Are you looking for a template to build modern and professional website? JSN Megazine 2 is a great choice for you!

Joomla! template created by our partner JoomlaShine will meet the demands of the most sophisticated user.

Summary

  • Ideally compatible with JoomSport version 5.x extension
  • Time-saving ready samples for pages: Coming Soon, Quick Tour, 404, About Us.
  • Configurable menu: Mega Menu, Tree Menu and Side Menu.
  • Power by JSN Sun Framework latest version.
  • Joomla! Page builder extension: JSN PageBuilder 3 integrated.
  • Available in six color themes.
  • Attractive slideshow with JSN ImageShow.
  • Smart Joomla! Form builder extension: JSN UniForm.
  • Joomla! Admin extension: JSN PowerAdmin 2.

Let's review the template strongest points.

Joomla Sport template with integrated JoomSport design

Each JoomSport view is adapted to JSN Megazine 2 style so your website will look as a whole. Let's check the main pages.

Calendar page

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JoomSport 5.2.2 for Joomla! CMS - Football Data API and more

Football (soccer) Data API connector

Over last month our team worked on Data API integration with Soccer data feeds provider. There over 800 soccer league supported. The functionality is quite comprehensive so let us explain what services we offer at this stage:

Import primary database

Script allows you to import the following data into JoomSport database: Players, Teams, team Rosters, Venues, league schedule. Data can be uploaded either to clean database or you can connect imported players, teams or venues with the items that you have already created inside JoomSport.

Update league matches details

Keep your matches updated at a click of a button. Besides score there is no more need to enter manually the following data.

Player stats:

  • Red/Yellow card
  • Double Yellow card
  • Assist
  • Goal
  • Own Goal
  • Penalty
  • Missed Penalty
  • Substitution*
  • Squad*
  • Coach*

Team stats:

  • Saves
  • Offsides
  • Fouls
  • Shot attempts
  • Own goal attempts
  • Corners
  • Attacks
  • Dangerous attacks

* Data is not supported in some local soccer Leagues

Real time automatic update

In nearest future we are planning to release real time update script, so all matches score and details will be updated automatically in online environments. Using this functionality you are free from manual updating Match results and other Statistics but at the same time your website will be always up-to-date. 

Please pay your attention that API data is additionally paid service. The price is based on league coverage.

Request soccer API data estimate

Front End management styles and UI redesign

One more piece of good news is that FE management layouts are is totally renewed. User-friendly mobile responsive and modern interface makes Season admins and Team moderator work much easier. There are some improvements planned, we keep working on this functionality to make it perfect.

 

Box score and Player events are connected now.

After reading your feedback we implemented Box score and Player event connector. You can now easily assign any Player Event to Box score so it will be calculated automatically and there is no need to insert same stats value twice.

Improvements:

  • Box score is added to Player stats module
  • Adjusted dropdown lists size
  • Styling is adjusted for third party templates
  • Adjusted timeline size
  • Translation updated for Dutch, Slovenian, German, Arabic, Spanish, Polish, Russian (special thanks to our translators that support us on Transifex)

Bug fixing

  • Warnings on Person categories and Players pages
  • Match event number on FE CSS fix
  • Team page is not opened for All Seasons value
  • Groups sorting is not following any rules in Roster – multilanguage issue
  • Season admin can’t edit Knockout type Matches
  • Extra field is not working in French
  • Live match score is not updated on mobile devices
  • Prediction user ID is lost

 

Please update your JoomSport version. If you have any ideas or suggestions how to improve JoomSport product please don't hesitate to share it on JoomSport feedback page and we will definitely consider it. Feel free to contact us by Chat or HelpDesk or Forum if any questions appear.

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JoomSport for Joomla 5.1 - display cool Roster in a separate tab!

Please welcome the new JoomSport for Joomla release! This time we decided not to wait for a long time collecting a lot of features but delivered one cool item with number of bugfixes. Let's check the details of what was delivered in the latest release:

 

Team Roster

We have ported a new advanced view for Team roster from our WordPress product, something that became very popular on club's web sites recently. It includes ability to display players' photos in a professional way with their Number and other additional information. Also you can group players by any selected extra field, for example position or role.

sport team roster

 

 

Finally we are happy to introduce the full list of applied improvements and bugfixes included into version 5.1: 

Improvements:

• Add ability to manage bonus points in Live matches
• Box score FE management improved css
• Add additional time format for player events
• Live match displayed for Knockout

Bug fixes:
• Minor adjustments for Front end management styling
• Squad editing in Live match
• Predictions - Round Submission CSS fixes
• Predictions - Submission time correction
• Search in person Menu
• Matchday layout for friendly match
• Show live ticker during the first load
• When create Match as Season admin on FE - Venue is not saved
• Season admin can not manage Complex knockout via FE
• Different format for displaying bonus points

 

Please download the new version from your Members Area. If you have any ideas or suggestions how to improve JoomSport product please don't hesitate to share it on JoomSport feedback page and we will be glad to have a discussion. Feel free to contact us if any questions appear.

Thank you for being with us!

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Major release JoomSport 5.0.4 is available

We know you’ve been waiting ages for us to publish the new JoomSport for Joomla version. We have done a long way to bring the high demanded release to production - we changed many aspects serving our clients to bring the best customer experience and keep going with the product development. 

Let's check the details of what was delivered in the latest release:

Live matches feature

Now live match streaming is available in JoomSport. There is new "Live" tab where match details and comments are posted by Season admin. It is connected to Facebook, Twitter and could be also just the new way how to manage your game details via front end.

Standings columns shorten names 

Now Standings layout much more adaptive to the screen size and displays shortened column names accordingly to screen resolution. The software analyzes the width available during the page load and displays the full or shortened names according to the space available. There is also ability to edit shortened names in language files.

New icons set

As you might have noticed already the new release is also loaded with completely new flat icons set. Professional look and feel is something you can expect from every point of our software now!

Vertical Timeline for goals and cards

Among new features the new vertical timeline has been implemented. Once you assign time to every player event in game you will get well organized timeline with modern look and feel.

 

New date type extra field allows to enter birth date that will be displayed as age or birthday on FE.

Completely new knockout design delivered. Clean, simple and accurate.

Finally we are happy to introduce the full list of applied improvements and bugfixes included into version 5.0.4: 

Improvements:

• Persons, such as coach or managers can be added to Team Roster cards
• Box score total flexible calculating - New ability to set up each Box score stats item, enable it's columns and totals separately for Team, Match, Player.

• Box score FE management improved css
• Scroll matches module CSS major improvements: new design for game block
• Standings module improvements - shortened names applied
• Team match events management improved in admin panel. You don't need to spend days clicking on drop down for every team level statistic.
• Highlight team feature view improved on standings layout. It is more accurate and simple.
• Display Knockout matchday name on Standings layout
• Bonus points column added to standings
• Multilanguage for groups added

Bug fixes:
• Unpublished Seasons are still displayed
• Team overview stats bug
• Apostrophe in name issue
• Double elimination bug
• Item id is not applied to Current form in Standings module
• Back button is language variable now
• Season table module by Groups bug
• Match Search on Calendar bug
• Players sorting issue on Team page
• Player list sorting issue
• Player stat issue fixed after removing player from team
• Match details pop up fix on Calendar page
• Person assigned to Season bug
• Knockout score bug
• Persons Extra field bug on Quick match create page.

 

Please download the new version from your Members Area. If you have any ideas or suggestions how to improve JoomSport product please don't hesitate to share it on JoomSport feedback page and we will be glad to have a discussion. Feel free to contact us if any questions appear.

Thank you for being with us!

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