Sports Fixture Systems is a fast-growing small firm that proves that it is possible to convert a personal passion into a successful business.
Co-founder and co-owner Michael Purcell explains: "I am very sporting and I have been very involved over the years as a player, as a coach and I studied sports science."
Although only established in May this year, Sports Fixture Systems is already making an impression in the competitive world of providing sports support services. It is a specialist provider of software for the organisation of fixtures for sports leagues and tournaments and for recording match results to produce league tables.
Already, the Holywood company has provided software for the English hockey league and Grenada Cricket League, as well as the software to produce tournament results at Northern Ireland's soccer Milk Cup.
Software produced by Sports Fixture Systems can turn the laborious manual process of arranging fixtures that often takes weeks into an instant computerised task. And the software allows organisers to produce various permutations to consider which works best for a season's fixtures. Reducing the manual element is increasingly important because fixture production has become a much more complex operation, with many more clubs in various sports engaged in ground sharing.
Sports Fixture Systems offers five different software packages, according to the specific needs of the client, each of which can be downloaded online from its website, www.sportsfixturesystems.com. Alternatively, bespoke programs can be provided for clients with particularly complex leagues. Software is also available to provide league tables, based on competition results.
"At the start of 2012 we went live with Sports Fixtures Systems," explains Michael. "We developed and tested the software systems. We thought it was a fantastic opportunity. The sector which we were interested in could be internationally marketed and some of our successes have been international."
Exports have gone to the United States, Central America, Australia and New Zealand. Customers include both professional leagues and amateur competitions.
Michael is particularly pleased with the recent contract to sell fixture software to the English hockey league. "That is a major boon for us," he says. "That proved how things could be developed and gave us confidence in our product and that our product and services were right."
As a young two-person business, Sports Fixtures Systems is at an important stage. "Our plans are to continue developing our software and to develop the packages, operating them and pushing further into international markets," says Michael. "We would like to see our business gradually expand internationally."
The business is off to an impressively fast start, though it spent several months seriously trialling its software before its proper launch in the spring. This approach is already producing impressive results.
Michael explains: "We are in our first year and we are a profit making business. We have worked incredibly hard. Our profits are going back into the company for product development and marketing."
Sports Fixture Systems is an inspiration, not merely because of its early achievements, but also as proof that business and pleasure really can go together.