By Santiago Carbone
Montevideo, May 27 (EFE).- Helping surfers find the perfect waves and save precious time and money. That is the mission of Lineup, an Uruguayan company whose app puts information about more than 50 of the country’s beaches at users’ fingertips.
Among the service’s main benefits are live images from strategically placed cameras of seven of Uruguay’s most popular surf locations.
The company’s founder, surfing aficionado Fabian Fernandez, got this initiative off the ground in 2019 and also has begun exploring other ways to provide a boost to the surfing industry as a whole.
In an interview with Efe, he said nearly 20,000 people practice that sport in Uruguay – including President Luis Lacalle Pou – and that Lineup currently has more than 7,000 registered users.
Surfers can use the app to find information about wind speed and direction and wave height.
But the live images they can access at all hours of the day – captured by cameras installed at restaurants, hotels and other establishments with good visibility – are perhaps its most valued feature.
“We’re working on a lot of functionalities that are on the way like, for example, (ones that will allow users) to rewind the camera footage and capture clips,” Fernandez said, adding that they will enable people to share surfing footage of themselves with their friends.
INDUSTRY RIPE WITH OPPORTUNITY
Asked if surfing was the right choice in a country where soccer is king and basketball is the No. 2 sport, the Lineup chief said he and the other team members aren’t second-guessing themselves.
“Passion comes first. We like (surfing). I like it a lot. Before getting into this, I studied the entire industry. The opportunities are there,” he said, though adding that “it’s all investment” at the moment.
“We’re fine in start-up mode. We have investors. We managed to close a $210,000 investment round, and we estimate we’ll need one more round. But although we’re developing lines of revenue sources, we know we’re going to need more investment capital to grow at the pace and speed we need to grow,” Fernandez said.
Lineup also is taking the first steps toward internationalizing its business and will first look to expand in South America, he added, pointing to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru as “interesting markets.”
SUPPORT FOR SPORT
“We’ve decided to support surfing on every front. We’re becoming a surfing brand, and we want to not just bring in technology and help you find waves, but also support the sport. We think that’s very important,” Fernandez said.
To that end, Lineup in March signed Lucas Madrid, a surfer who represented Uruguay in the most recent Pan-American Games, as the app’s official athlete.
“I use the cameras a lot, mainly to see certain aspects that help me know if there are going to be waves or not. It gives me an overall picture, so I can decide whether to surf or do physical training,” the national champion told Efe.
He also hailed the strong global growth for a sport he said is “new and fresh” and constantly gaining new practitioners.
“A lot of factors also have come together so that suddenly there are more people paying attention, and that enables a little faster growth compared to other minor sports,” Madrid said. EFE