The New Work Lab, a Moroccan co-working space based in Casablanca, recently held the first edition of Pitch Lab won by MySportner. Fatim-Zahra Biaz, New Work Lab founder, took the opportunity to interview Kenza Bennani, the founder of MySportner.
New Work Lab: Kenza, you are the founder of MySportner, the NWL startup of the month. Could you explain your concept?
Kenza Bennai: MySportner is a mobile application that helps all individuals practicing sports to find their ideal partner (someone who's on their same level) with whom to organize sports events. We also have localized sports activity lists which users can consult.
NWL: How did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
KB: I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. For that reason, I chose to pursue a Master’s degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Later, I worked for two years in companies to get experience and have nothing to regret. One year ago, I finally decided to launch my own company.
I’ve had the idea for MySportner for several years but had to develop it; this has been the most difficult part. I love sports and technology news. So what’s better than gathering the two and living my passion?
NWL: You wish to launch MySportner first in the US. What are the challenges involved in conquering a distant market that you don’t know?
KB: It won’t be easy, that’s a fact. I plan to go to the US in February to study the market, launch a communications campaign, and meet contacts and potential partners with whom I have been communicating virtually.
Afterwards, we’d love to be accepted by one of the US startup accelerators. It would be a great stepping-stone for MySportner.
NWL: What is the importance of the user experience?
KB: I think the most important thing in any project is user experience, whether on the web, mobile, or elsewhere. It’s about giving the user a unique and unforgettable experience, in a way that she wants to repeat.
At MySportner, we focus on developing the best service possible. Our aim is not only finding a sports partner for each of our users, but to find the right sports partner, by linking individuals who are at the same level.
NWL: And the design?
KB: Many people mistakenly think the design is a simple choice of colors and locations of buttons. They are wrong.
The design includes the user interface as well as the user experience as I spoke about earlier. The UI is very important but less than the UX because it evolves with time in the same way colors and styles change. Today, for instance, the flat design is in vogue. But this will change in a couple of months or years.
NWL: What are your development prospects?
KB: We expect to launch on the App Store at the end of January. Then, we will work on enhancements and additional features. Once the app is stable on iOS, we will launch on Android.
NWL: What are the core values of MySportner?
KB: Sharing, transparency and friendship.
Today, three people work on the project: Marouane, the designer, Tanguy, the iOS developer, and me. We wish to pass on these values to all our users so they are able to befriend each other, off the sports pitch.
NWL: How do you fund the project? Are you looking for partners or funders?
KB: I have been bootstrapping MySportner for eight months now. We are looking for partners more than investors.
NWL: What are the difficulties you’ve faced?
KB: I always look at the glass half-full. So, I don’t think that we encounter many difficulties but rather, we’ve learned lessons. That being said, we had psychological obstacles. At the beginning, your entourage may be skeptical. It is often difficult but you have at all costs to focus on the people who believe in you and keep in mind that you are the only judge of your decisions.
NWL: What entrepreneurial lessons did you learn the past months?
KB: That you have to be patient. It is sometimes frustrating but you have to know how to channel your entrepreneur’s bulimia and to concentrate on doing one thing at a time to make sure it’s done right. You have also to learn to listen to the market and consumers.
NWL: What is your advice for a young entrepreneur?
KB: My advice is to be surrounded by good people as soon as possible. It is useless to be isolated and to keep your idea for yourself. As Guy Kawasaki said, “there are lots of ideas,” but doing one idea until it’s finished, and implementing it well, makes all the difference. My advice is to be transparent and to talk about your idea to your entourage, family, friends, and to the people you meet at events. Don’t be afraid if you’re alone or you have problems in finding the right people to complete your team at the beginning of the adventure. They will come with time.
NWL: A last word?
KB: Never stop trying! Perseverance is the key to success.
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