Chris Shreeve is looking to up the app development game with Locker Room Labs, a new company that aims to provide end-to-end solutions for sports betting businesses
This is an exciting interview for me, personally. Having gone through a number of software development projects, I do believe the market needs what Chris and his team are building. We chat about his user-driven development approach and Locker Room Labs’ missions to become the leaders in this space.
Let’s start with you giving me the elevator pitch of Locker Room Labs. What do you do and what’s your USP?
Shreeve. Locker Room Labs is a B2B software engineering agency specializing in sports, betting, fantasy and iGaming app development. Our US-based, senior engineers have decades of sports software experience ranging from UI/UX design, MVP development, end-to-end custom app development and plug-and-play staff augmentation services. Whether you are a startup looking to bring your app vision to life or an established technology team looking to add experienced engineers to your roster, Locker Room Labs is your go-to partner for all things sports technology.
Can you tell us about your journey into the sports app development industry and what motivated you to start Locker Room Labs?
Shreeve. As a digital ad agency owner in a previous life, I would often cringe seeing the apps we were tasked with promoting. Many clients thought digital advertising was the “silver bullet” to growth but they were neglecting the very thing they wanted to market, their software solutions. So, I knew that I wanted to get my hands on the technology side of the business ecosystem, to create better, user-centric experiences for consumers that would inevitably be easier to market down the road.
As it relates to the sports industry, I have always had a passion for sports but also extensive experience working with companies in the space. Over the years, I have worked with 10+ professional sports teams and various brand sponsors who are active within the sports business. I have also seen the growth of the sports technology industry, with sports betting and fantasy sports apps booming in recent years. I saw an opportunity to niche down specifically within sports technology to provide a very specific service to a very specific audience. Our brand has been designed to resonate with the sports business executive who wants a team of specialists who understand their industry and the challenges they face. We feel that team is Locker Room Labs.
What unique approach does Locker Room Labs bring to the table when it comes to not just development but UX,UI expertise?
Shreeve. The beginning of every engagement at Locker Room Labs comes with our UI/UX Workshop, which is an immersive 4-6 week deep dive into the brand. We take a very user-centric approach to every project by combining my expertise in marketing with highly skilled designers who not only have a creative background but an engineering mindset.
Companies will often contract with a designer to create initial Figma designs of their app but that design is not rooted with actual software engineering practices in mind. Often what has been designed is either not in scope for the brand or unrealistic from a development perspective. Our deliverables in this process are created by engineers who know your app vision inside and out, while also knowing that the design can be completed within your budget and timeline parameters. Having the actual development team design AND build your app cuts down on repetitive work and streamlines the process.
In the context of betting, how do you think about responsible gambling, the balance between keeping users’ safety and well-being in mind, while at the same time building great products?
Shreeve. We take the conversation around legality and responsible gambling very seriously. Locker Room Labs would take a strong stance against doing any work for a company that was crossing any lines related to the regulations in the space. That is why it is incredibly important for any B2B service provider in this industry to know the rules inside and out. We are not a full-service development shop that offers services to every industry under the sun. Our commitment to the sports industry can be seen from our brand to our content, so you can trust that we are up to date with all compliance related topics. We have seen an abundance of innovative technology companies in the space building responsible gaming alternatives that we would be ecstatic to work with.
Sports apps require real-time updates, accurate data, and to be compliant at all times. Could you elaborate on the strategies and technologies your company employs to ensure clients get the support they need in those areas?
Shreeve. It starts with dependable data vendors, such as SportsData.IO, that can provide near real time data and guarantee acceptable latency. Leveraging the data vendor properly with a robust data integration and transformation platform, such as the Locker Room Labs Playbook, is the next critical step. The Playbook leverages the best that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has to offer, including its distributed caching technology Redis, and combines with a c# (.NetCore) solution to ensure local state of all applicable sports data. The final step is a robust client application (mobile, web, and/or desktop) with the proper automated testing and alerting to ensure the quality of the overall technology stack is what one would expect for an enterprise product. Getting the right data into the consumer’s hands in an engaging way is key to having a sticky app.
User engagement is crucial for any betting app. How do you create features that can captivate users and keep them engaged? What’s the secret sauce 🙂
Shreeve. We obsess with the user and build all our client applications with User Driven Development. User Experience Research & Design comes at the start, not the middle or end, and we insist on it before finalizing any SoW that has a guaranteed outcome. Obsessing with the user comes at every stage of the software development lifecycle for us, not just the start. Once live, an MVP will be put in front of a focus group by our User Experience Research team, and we will learn where the sticky points are that need refinement. After launch, our products leverage the best that Google Tags Manager has to offer to ensure we are closely monitoring user behaviors and workflows and maximizing the conversion behaviors our clients want.
Another vital component in the development process, as it relates to engagement, is a close relationship with our partners. While we trust our clients have mapped out every corner of their app solution, often some areas get overlooked. Locker Room Labs team of engineers have built dozens of sports apps, even some of their own DTC apps, so we have that institutional knowledge of what works and what does not. Unless you have that in-depth industry experience, understanding that engages this specific user-base can be difficult.
Finally, what are your plans for the next couple of years? Who’s your ideal client and what is the end goal with Locker Room Labs?
Shreeve. I love the quote, “most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years”.
We are taking the approach of building long-lasting relationships with the right clients from day one because we believe in the growth of this industry and want to be a leading sports app development firm in the years to come. Our brand launch has gone extremely well, with opportunities ahead of us with large sportsbooks and casinos, data providers, sports technology startups and more. We want to work with companies who prioritize software over everything else, who obsess over the user experience and want a team of industry experts to build alongside.
Through our thought leadership content and commitment to networking in the sports, betting, fantasy and iGaming space, we want to provide value to the industry and not just push our services whenever possible. Our goal is to contribute to the growth of this space, while helping build incredible software for the future innovators in sports technology.