Spotify, Skype, Tictail, Minecraft and Klarna – Sweden has been home to a shoal of successful tech start-ups within the last few years. One of the most recent examples is Fishbrain, a fishing app for anglers, now tipped as the next big thing. Having grown from around 50,000 users when it launched in 2013 to today’s 1.7 million users worldwide, Fishbrain has become the natural meeting point and social network for today’s angling aficionados.
Fishbrain founder Johan Attby had been interested in niche social networks for years and was confident he would be able to build a product that could satisfy the hundreds of millions of sport fishing fans across the world.
“I stumbled across an article about the world’s ten biggest hobbies – which had sport fishing on top of the list – and after some research, realised there was potentially a huge market for an app specially-designed for anglers,” Attby told The LINK.
Home territory to the founders and with a population of just under 10 million (of which a staggering 1.5 million fishing fans) Sweden seemed like the perfect place to start. But the app quickly gained popularity both in the UK, in the US and beyond. After receiving substantial funding from Northzone, among other backers, the team were able to accelerate user growth worldwide, while taking part in some conservational projects to help preserve waterways and marine wildlife.
Even if anglers traditionally have been thought of as quite secretive about techniques and favourite fishing spots, Attby and his team understood and identified the ever-constant element of bragging within sport fishing, which is why they decided to create a forum allowing users to really show off their catch to their peers.
“Anglers love exchanging tips and telling stories about the one that got away and also bragging about the ones that didn’t”, says Attby.
The fact that fishing can be done near any open stretch of water makes it universally popular. But according to Attby, fishing has traditionally been seen as quite a solitary pastime, particularly for men. However, in recent years, the sport has definitely opened up to women and younger people, which has helped to increase its popularity. The rise of competitive fishing has also really pushed the sport forward.
It is this that Fishbrain taps into: a way to track, record and plan fishing trips, as well as connecting a community of like-minded individuals from around the world. The Fishbrain Forecast, developed in partnership with world-renowned scientists in Complex Dynamical Systems & Artificial Intelligence, is also a revolutionary new feature that helps anglers catch bigger fish by providing detailed forecasts that reveal the optimal time to catch a particular species of fish in any given location. This is quickly becoming a very popular feature of the app, according to Attby.
Plenty of fish in the sea
Few can have missed the article which went viral on the internet earlier this year, presenting data from Fishbrain and dating app Tinder and showing that men who posted pictures of themselves posing with freshly-caught fish on their profiles achieved greater dating success.
“We had a lot of fun with this! We decided to do a bit of research and discovered that this was quite a common practice for young men in certain parts of the United States,” says Attby.
From the data collected, Fishbrain also found out that at the very top of the females’ fish list was the Great Northern Tilefish, which actually seemed to boost the attractiveness of the man holding it.
“We couldn’t help but share our research with the world – I don’t think the Great Northern Tilefish has ever been so popular!”
Anyfin is possible
Sweden is home to many entrepreneurs and Attby think this could be due to the country being the perfect size to test a product before deciding if it will work internationally.
“There is an incredible amount of talent around – brilliant entrepreneurs, developers, creators – and fantastic support from government and educational institutions”.
He thinks that Swedes generally are happier to try new ideas than some other nationalities and that they never tire of trying to improve.
“That’s why our developers are so unique – they never stop searching for new answers and solutions for their products.”
Attby also points out that running a start-up is always a roller-coaster ride and you need passion to get you through the downs. Extreme focus is also absolutely critical, he says. It is easy - and tempting - to try to do too many things at the same time.
“If you have a good idea then you should do everything you can to turn it into reality. Surround yourself with entrepreneurial, creative people, who also believe in your idea, and take it from there”.
With the US currently their biggest market, Fishbrain now see great potential in the Far East and countries like Japan and China but also in South America and Brazil in particular – a country with millions upon millions of angling aficionados.
“We want to become as valuable to every angler as their fishing rod and bait, and we feel as though we are in a really good position to become a permanent and essential part of every angler’s fishing trip.”