Exclusive Q&A with Majdi Al-Lulu, Founder of Grintafy
Grintafy Technologies, a Saudi-based talent discovery platform for amateur footballers who have dreams of going professional, has announced its Seed investment led by reputed investors Wa’ed Ventures and included participation from Nafithat Al Mustagbal Investments.
Following the investment announcement, MAGNiTT took the opportunity to catch up with Founder and CEO of Grintafy, Majdi Al-Lulu to delve further into the startup.
Q1. To start, tell us briefly about Grintafy Technologies. How does it work?
Grintafy is a talent discovery platform for amateur footballers who have dreams of going professional. Grinta comes from the root word “grit”, it’s a common catchword being used in sports that means determination, motivation, and playing with heart. Grintafy allows users to find, join or organize games, rate players on their performances, work their way up the rankings, as well as view and track their performance. It also allows them to book services for their game such as fields, referees, coaches, and others. All of these features allow players to build their football CV in order to have it viewed by scouts and professional clubs. Grintafy also has a social engine that connects players showcasing their skills from all around the globe.
Q2. It is quite extraordinary that you managed to raise this round with the current COVID-19 crisis. Was this round in the works from much earlier?
This has been in discussion for a long time, and a lot of hard work has gone into getting where we are today. The lockdown was time utilized to conclude the agreement and we are grateful that we were able to finalize with Wa’ed despite the current climate.
Q3. Has it been difficult trying to discover talent in this current climate?
Grintafy is not immune to the COVID-19 crisis. Like all other companies, we have been affected - all football-related activities have been suspended since mid-March. Prior to the lockdown, we had success stories with users being discovered by our partner clubs and academies. We can’t wait to get back to that!
Q4. Has the usage of the platform been affected in any way? If so, how have you tried to overcome any barriers you've been faced with?
Since all football-related activities and meetups have been stopped due to the lockdown, usage of the platform has been affected. However, we have recently introduced some new features that engage our users at home. Since this climate is temporary, we encourage our users to use the “Get Fit” feature that will help them get ready and be as fit as possible when it’s time to get back to the pitch. The “Get Ready” feature includes football workouts that can be done from home, and are supported by videos and instructions. The workouts are divided into types such as: warmups, speed, agility, and so on. We have also included a live broadcast feature where we host professional players to talk about their experience, give advice to young talent, and share their favorite workouts.
We have also used this period to do more conduct Research and Development (R&D) on the new products that will be introduced in the coming year.
Q5. How did you apply your technology services background to Grintafy?
Grintafy was the perfect marriage of my love for sports and my experience in technology. Founding Grintafy was a dream come true. Since I could kick a water bottle, I have had a passion for football that has never wavered. For the past 15 years, I have been gaining skills, experience, and knowledge to guide me in developing the product and the company. Previously in my field, I developed products that were used by various entities and establishments. Alongside my degree in computer engineering, I am a certified PMP and RMP, and very passionate about KPIs, BSC, and data analysis.
Q6. What is your big-picture vision for the future of Grintafy?
I envision Grintafy to become the go-to platform for dreamers worldwide, and that the future Saudi National Team will be discovered on Grintafy!
Q7. It’s safe to assume that after this round, you're going to have some exciting growth plans. Can you share some of Grintafy’s short-term plans for expansion with us?
We have been working and experimenting on integrating the platform with different and emerging technologies that serve our ultimate goal. We will start with wearable devices that measure the performance of the players.
We will be also releasing two new products to the market which help scouts, clubs and academies discover and manage players
Although we do have users all over the world due to the location unspecific features of the app, we will continue our focus in KSA and move into the North African region.
Q8. In your opinion, what are some of the most exciting things happening in the tech space right now?
This may sound a bit self-absorbed, but I am excited about Grintafy! It is a totally new concept that will offer the same advantages to all footballers regardless of their background and economic status. We literally “level the playing field” for everyone. For amateur footballers, their future is in the palm of their hands.
Q9. What were you looking for from your investors, beyond capital?
Grintafy has been lucky to have interest from a number of VCs and angel investors. Aside from capital, we do believe that WA’ED ventures and Nafitaht Almustagbal have the network, expertise, flexibility, and vision needed to get to the next level.
Q10. What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling Grintafy in MENA / beyond?
Thus far, the biggest obstacle has been educating the user (as Grintafy is a new concept). We are confident in what we have been able to accomplish so far in KSA and will continue this as we expand internationally.
Q11. Finally, what advice would you give to yourself five years ago?
Knowing what I know now, I would love to have started my dream earlier. But I have all my faith in Allah that everything happens at the right time, for the right reason. I would also tell myself that obstacles will always arise and plans can change at any time, but they are all part of what comes with starting a new business.
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COVID-19 further suppressed the number of deals in MENA-based startups in April but total funding increased by 202% as EMPG joined MENA’s unicorn list by raising $150M from existing shareholders. Learn more details in MAGNiTT’s April 2020 Dashboard.