University of Michigan student and soccer player Chris Mwakasisi (profiled in metromode in June) was just looking for a pickup game. But the 21-year-old may find himself at the helm of a profitable social networking site geared toward matching soccer players in search of a game.
Project Freestyle has been up and running since September. With 800 domestic and 200 international users, Mwakasisi says the site has the potential to attract advertisers trying to reach a niche market.
Mwakasisi and roommate and site co-creator Jeff Lemons are both lifelong soccer players whose busy schedules donít always allow for the extensive planning that could be required to organize even an informal soccer game.
"While soccer is a very popular sport, itís hard to find people who are at your level for pickup games," Mwakasisi says. "As we talked to people casually, we saw there were other needs that werenít being met in the soccer community."
Though other soccer-oriented networking sites exist, Mwakasisi says theyíre missing a key feedback component Ė most allow users to post game times and locations, but not to discuss plans or to determine how many players are in.
Project Freestyle, on the other hand, combines a forum with user-created groups, a calendar and automated e-mail reminders of game dates and times. Mwakasisi drew on his experience in multimedia to create a site thatís both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Since the siteís inception, Mwakasisi and Lemons have been joined by fellow students Aly Juma, Michael Parke and Brent Madema, all of whom plan to stick with the Website as it grows. The group is hoping to attract venture capital, Mwakasisi says, in addition to advertising revenue from soccer-oriented businesses and organizations.
Project Freestyle has endless potential, Mwakasisi says, as a recruiting tool for NCAA coaches, or collegiate club teams.
The siteís features are free to users.
Source: Chris Mwakasisi, Project Freestyle
Writer: Nancy Kaffer