CricHQ delivers master stroke

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 14/04/2014

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Scoring a deal with global mobile phone company Nokia could drive CricHQ to more than two million users, the company's greatest stroke of its four-year career.

But getting direct exposure to India's 900 million mobile phones and Nokia's 40,000 stores during the upcoming Indian Premier League tournament, starting this week, has the company looking ahead to the fifth day.

The Wellington-based cricket technology company has signed a deal with Nokia that will see its app become available on the mobile brand's X, Lumia and Asha range of phones.

Its free cricket-scoring app allows users to record and follow live cricket scores.

The Nokia version would hopefully be available in time for this week's IPL tournament, which was last year valued at US$3 billion (NZ$3.44b).

CricHQ chief executive Simon Baker said the company was excited about the deal's potential, given it was timed with the launch of the highest profile cricket tournament in the world, in cricket-mad India.

He said this would present a massive opportunity in a country where there were more than 900 million mobile phones, and where Nokia was still "absolutely massive".

"Up until now our main focus has been obviously getting clients on board like New Zealand Cricket and associations, but we've never really promoted to the fans.

"It signifies the kickoff of a pretty large endeavour around the IPL and for the next 12 months finishing at the World Cup."

Baker said as well as making the company's cricket scoring app available on Nokia phones, the mobile giant, which has more than 40,000 stores in India, would advertise the product digitally and in its retail environment.

"Having a picture of a cricketer obviously holding up a new Nokia X phone with the app inside it being CricHQ is fantastic, it's money-can't-buy marketing really.

"For me, it's one of our biggest successes and most exciting thing we've had in the four years of the company."

CricHQ had agreed a target with Nokia of 1.5 million additional app users, which would triple the company's current global base. But Baker said this was "only a slither" compared to the size of the overall market.

As part of the deal Nokia would also get exclusive access to CricHQ content produced during the IPL, such as player diary videos from Brendon McCullum, who has a stake in the company.

A $6 million funding round would close at the end of this month, which would enable the business to capitalise on the brand awareness the Nokia deal would hopefully bring.

"We've got two associations in India already that use CricHQ to administer cricket, as we do here with New Zealand Cricket, but there's 28 other provinces to go and talk to."

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The company was founded in 2010 and had grown to nearly 100 employees across seven countries, with about 40 governing bodies signed up and users around the world.

Many international cricketers had invested, including New Zealanders Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming, as well as India's Ravi Ashwin.

If market and business conditions were suitable in the coming months the company would consider an initial public offer listing, either later this year or early next.

The company had also been approached by other sporting codes but being a business of cricketers, any other sports were at least two years away.

"We know nothing about hockey or darts or any of those really attractive sports we could get into.

"So if we did do it we'd look at expanding the company to cater for specific markets."

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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