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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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JoomSport 3.3 for WordPress - Playoff functionality delivered


We've added new option "Playoff" to Matchday settings, now you can create Round Robin Matches that will not be counted towards Standings. Playoff Matches will be displayed under the Standings. Please use it to add new stages to your competitions.


Minor improvements

  • JoomSport icon in Gutenberg classic block
  • Roster css issues

Fixed Bugs

  • CSV Team import is not working for extra fields
  • Some Themes' conflict in Current form on Standings
  • Some Themes' conflict in JoomSport buttons style
  • Roster css

Please update your version. As always 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 3.2.3 for WordPress - Data API connector added

Football (soccer) Data API connector

Finally we are glad to announce Data API integration with soccer live scores API provider for JoomSport WordPress version . Over 800 soccer leagues are supported. At the moment we offer the following services:

Import primary database

Previously developed for Joomla JoomSport component script became available for WordPress JoomSport plugin. This script allows importing the main 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. Compared to Joomla JoomSport API integration there is no need of manual work during the setting stage.

Update league matches details

Your matches will be updated at a click of a button. Besides match results, most of details will be updated as well:

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

On a short-term horizon we are going to release real time update script, so all matches score and other details will be updated automatically in online environments. With such functionality there is no need for 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

Besides Data API integration we are glad to inform you about the following improvements and bug fixes:

 Improvements:

  • JoomSport performance
  • RealSoccer CSS
  • Mobile CSS
  • CSS for Roster and icons

Bugfixes:

  • Manual points on Match page didn't work
  • Match details can't be edited

 

Please update your 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 3.2 for WordPress released - performance improved

It's been a while since we posted something new about JoomSport for WordPress and we are happy to share the latest changes with you.

Significant performance improvement for all major pages

JoomSport community is growing everyday and customers with really huge database started to use our software. That is really good news! Unfortunately previously such websites faced speed problems on stats pages because of the initial WordPress structure and JoomSport tables. In version 3.2 we have greatly improved performance on all Standings views, including widgets and shortcodes, on Team and Match result page. Now even in case of any inflow of website visitors JoomSport pages will perform without timeouts.

Minor improvements:
* Player stats widget added to standard edition
* SEO improvements
* Styling improvements
* Mobile styles improved
* Ability to edit Season assigned Extra fields for Player in Single competition

Bugfixes:

* Delete matchday action will recount tables now
* Knockout 7 and 77 score issue (Pro)
* Team overview - all matches are Away
* Moderator without team can edit any match (Pro)
* Using the selectors to enter a zero score messes the fixture up
* Search on Calendar is not working for Mobiles
* Matches order incorrect on Calendar once generated by Match gen (Pro)
* Remove Team column from Player stats page for singles

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 3.1 delivers a pure beauty

 

 

As a fact we've heard that JoomSport is quite comprehensive system and may be even features-ridden so in this release we decided to work mainly with interfaces and facilities without adding new functional features.

Number of pleasant enhancements are applied:

  • New icons set
  • Knockout redesign (Pro)
  • Shortened name for Rank column on standings
  • Logo for standings widget
  • Improved design of all matches shortcodes and widgets
  • Group by matchday on Calendar mobile view
  • Improved design for Calendar mobile view
  • Improved active tabs view in FireFox
  • Minor CSS improvements

Check JoomSport demo to see all the nice perks delivered!

Player list improvements:

Besides for perception convenience we have advanced Player list view. Now in JoomSport Settings you are able to specify Event or Extra field to order Players on Player list page. Moreover Countable events stats is added to Player list view so you can easily display there for example player Points stats for Hockey or Sum of cards for Soccer. Added Team column allows your website users to understand Player membership without visiting his Profile page.

Certainly bugfixes:

  • CRITICAL HOTFIX (Pro) - WordPress 4.9.2 compatibility - Knockout delete function clears all season matches.
  • https links in link type extra field are not working
  • Removed inline CSS from matches widget
  • Group by in roster is not working when field is not displayed on player list
  • Removed non-functional registration button on season layout
  • Current form custom name is not applied
  • Custom shortened names are not applied for standings shortcodes and widgets

Please update your 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 if any questions appear.

BIG thanks to our Front end developer Vitaliy who did great job in this release!

 

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JoomSport 3.0.1 for WordPress 4.9 - Urgent compatibility HOTFIX

Our previous version of JoomSport plugin became incompatible with the latest WordPress 4.9 release. The new 3.0.1 JoomSport delivers a single compatibility fix for Matchday list.

Please DO NOT USE outdated version of JoomSport with latest 4.9 WordPress, it might ruin your database.

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Split ranking in WordPress Achievements plugin1.3. Green light for Golf.

We have delivered number of small but very valuable changes in latest version 2.1 of JoomSport Achievements. Hopefully they will help such sports like Golf to manage better results ranking and will improve general usability of the product.

We have delivered three simple changes:

  • Split ranking. Once number of competitors have equal results on season or stage level, the placing is splitting between them. If you use Points based ranking, points number will be awarded based on their given place number
  • Improved buttons on Stage layout as well as front pages CSS to deliver user friendly process and better styling for dark colored sites
  • Improved field checks on stage category creation step

Feel free to download the update from WordPress marketplace.

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Getting ready for 2018 FIFA World Cup with updated WordPress sport predictions plugin

Are you ready for the 2018 FIFA World Cup that will be held in Russia? The most popular sport entertainment is obviously sports predictions! Don't miss a chance to add this functionality to your sport website.

WordPress sport predictions plugin has been just updated. We have added critical features that make it even more attractive and definitely very user friendly. Let's go though the changes list:

  • New options for ordering leaderboard. Sort Your users according to the order you need!
  • New option to count Points on leaderboard. Now you can count points instantly or only once the round is finished.
  • Filters on Round edit. We've made it very easy to find and add matches that you need. You can also add many matches in one click now.
  • The new columns on LeaderBoard view - enjoy the full statistic for your predictions
  • Translation, time zone settings

Feel free to download the update from WordPress.org!

We are planning more updates in November for this selected product so it will be even easier to track matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and deliver even more fun to your site visitors. Stay tuned, stay with JoomSport!

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Best selling WordPress sport theme launches partnership with JoomSport sport plugin

 What makes a sport website successful? Having more than 10 years of experience in building success stories for sports projects we can state with confidence that a great sports website needs three major parts:

  • Detailed sport statistics;
  • Great sport news content;
  • And the last, but not the least, is attractive design.

Usually sport news are managed and delivered by league or sport club managers. Unfortunately, until now our JoomSport WordPress sport plugin was missing such important feature as easy and quick delivery of great sport designs. We are happy to say that everything has changed!

 

All this time our team has been looking for the best WordPress sport themes examples and we have finally found the ideal one. We are glad to introduce you top flight Real Soccer theme by GoodLayers. Real Soccer theme is one of the most popular and demanded responsive WordPress sport themes – especially for football and soccer sport clubs. How can we prove that it's the best solution for you? Easily. Just check out three reasons:

  1. Real Soccer theme is included into the top five best selling WordPress sport themes list on the most popular in the world theme marketplace (Themeforest.net).
  2. The theme is the 1st prize winner in WordPress sport themes niche.
  3. If you enter "best WordPress sport theme" query in Google, you will see that almost all top rated blogs have RealSoccer WordPress sport theme in their list.

Are you still not sure? Just check Real Soccer theme demo and you will have no more hesitations seeing their great features and awesome functional design.

Today we are glad to announce the delivery of design integration between JoomSport WordPress sport plugin and Real Soccer WordPress sport theme.

Starting October 2017, RealSoccer theme will be delivered with JoomSport Standard edition. This integration is officially supported both by GoodLayers and BearDev. What is more, we are working on the process of integration with other great WordPress sports themes: Splash, Big Slam and WP Soccer.

Check WordPress sport theme demo website to see the results of this integration and don't miss a chance to take your sport project to the totally new level. Stay tuned! Stay with JoomSport!

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JoomSport for WordPress 2.1 - Roster, CSV Import and more...

2.1. wordpres sport plugin release

CSV import feature

Today is a good day, isn't it?

We sure it is, because we have great news: now there is no more need to fill JoomSport data manually you can finally upload Players, Teams and even Matches to your JoomSport WordPress sport plugin using CSV import feature. Functionality available for Pro version holders and allows you to upload all required data for Players, Teams and Matches including extra fields. Import is very flexible as it allows you to use almost any file structure - you can choose yourself what fields you import.

Even more - it is all included into our Pro version without any additional charge!

Team Roster

The second great implementation is a new advanced view for Team roster. 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

Player list, Matchday shortcodes and Match Generator improvement

New Player list shortcode extends the facilities to display information on the required part of your website for selected team. Two views are available - Photos and Players Stats. Shortcodes Matchday delivers ability to display matches from selected matchday including Knockout trees anywhere across your site.

Moreover we have one more good news: Schedule generating is now possible with new algorithm - Berger system. It is officially used by UEFA and some other sport associations so it is easy now to create game schedule for most of the international leagues. Please read more details about Berger algorithm here.

Other features added

Our team was working very hard to deliver a lot of more features and in fact this time it was quite tricky to decide if we had to change the release number for 3.0 or 2.1

* Extra field display in player list
* Player stats shortcode moved to ST edition
* Emblem for standings shortcode
* Redeveloped shortened names for standings
* Add columns to Squad list
* Ability to specify seconds for Match event

Bug Fixes

We also delivered number of Bug fixes to improve quality of our product:

* Knockout match statuses issues
* CSS styles adjustments
* Box score and statistics views and blocs fixes
* Matches widget and shortcode issues
* Demo data errors
* Season bonus points were not applying

 

Please check demo and if any questions appear feel free to contact our friendly support team any possible way: Chat, HelpDesk, Forum.

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