Interview with PlayUp’s Dennis Lee

This week I’m pleased to have had the chance to interview Dennis Lee, PlayUp’s U.S. Head of Product. PlayUp is a new app that touts itself as the first global social network dedicated to live sport. It features live scores for more than 20,000 games a year and connects all of the live action to you and your friends, allowing you to message one another in Real Time – for Free!

What better time to hear about PlayUp and the idea behind it than now, ahead of the gluttony of holiday sports events!

Currently PlayUp is only available for the iPhone, but it shouldn’t be too long…

Tell us a little about the PlayUp team, where are you based, how many of you are there?

PlayUp has offices in seven countries throughout the world, which includes the U.S., United Kingdom, Japan, China, Brazil and Australia with more than 200 employees across the globe. I’m based in our New York office, where we have created a great culture – we have a hockey net and half court basketball hoop.

What motivated you to create PlayUp, do you remember the specific moment that the idea came to you?

The idea for PlayUp began when co-founder George Tomeski was watching and flicking between a Premier League Football game and Cricket game while texting with a few friends who were watching the same sports. He wondered if there was a better way to hang out and communicate with friends while sports were on, which was where the idea was born. 

How long did it take for you to move from ideas to the launch of the app?

When PlayUp was born it set out to build a service that was a higher value social platform for sports fans versus traditional SMS and other social networks. Our big idea was, and remains, around providing a single mobile screen giving anyone, anywhere in the world, the ability to impulsively connect with friends and have some fun around live sport. Our company was initially founded in 2007 and our first mobile app launched in October 2011.

Finding an app name can be a real struggle, how did you decide upon PlayUp?

You can imagine the process everyone goes through to name their app. We all had a major brainstorming session and threw out any and all ideas that came to mind. We instantly liked and settled on “PlayUp”. As a name, we like it because “Play” has sport connotations, but is an evocative word and combining it with “up” makes it a little bolder. 

Do you have any interesting updates in the pipeline that you can give us a sneak peak at?

We see version 1.0 as the beginning of a new way for fans to interact around sports. Early next year you’ll be able to truly customize your experience in ways the sports fan has not seen before. 

Is an iPad app in the works? Surely the concept would translate beautifully to the iPad, the larger screen allowing for chat and other information to be displayed simultaneously.

We definitely agree! The iPad version is in development and fans can expect this version to be released early next year as well. Additionally, PlayUp will be available on the web shortly. Our goal is to provide sports fans and socializers with the best possible way to enjoy our products, so we are determined to best accommodate their desires and continue to innovate our products.

What would you say the killer feature of PlayUp is? What do you use the most?

Private rooms are where we see the most value. We’re excited to provide a free platform for sports fans to converse with their friends, family, and other sports enthusiasts, regardless of where they are in the world. I’m from San Francisco so I enjoy using the app to connect with my family and friends still out west and follow 49ers games especially.

What is the preferred sport of the PlayUp team?

It varies from person to person and of course from region to region. George Tomeski’s (Co-Founder of PlayUp) a big Australian Rules Football fan and his team is the West Coast Eagles, Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League, and MLB’s New York Yankees. My personal favorites are the San Francisco Giants and 49ers. What’s great about our company is that with all of our different backgrounds and upbringings, it seems we have just about every team and league covered!

If you could go back in time and give yourself a single piece of advice from your experience of developing an app for the iPad, what would it be?

Don’t underestimate the human interaction features that iOS and iPad have to offer, combined with the ability to break boundaries to enhance the user experience.

Is there one app that you couldn’t live without?

Navigation apps.

Thanks for taking the time out to chat to us!

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experience with us. It’s always great to get insight into the thoughts and lives of the people behind the apps we use every day!

If you have any questions that you’d like to be answered by future developers then leave a comment below and we’ll see what we can do!