May 22, 2015 · 2 minutes

San Francisco-based sports league platform Mitoo has slowly been making its way West since it was founded in London in 2011. Along the way, the company has partaken in Seedcamp in Paris, 500 Startups, and Tony Hsieh's Downtown Project in Las Vegas. With a new $1.5 million funding, Mitoo is now fully entrenched in Silicon Valley, ready to become the go-to app for managers of adult soccer leagues, the local softball beer league, and social sports clubs.

The company's sports league management platform has gained 1.6 million users in the UK since last year, allowing both adult and youth athletes to find leagues in sports such as football/soccer, rugby, and others. Mitoo also allows sports leagues to communicate with players and teams, and helps them attract new players. In addition to its new funding today, the company also launched an updated version of its app, optimized for North American adult leagues for sports like soccer, basketball, hockey, kickball, and softball. The app allows people to search their area for leagues to play in, allows the leagues to organize its teams and players, and sends push notifications.

"We are making it easy to find and join sports leagues," said Mitoo chief executive and co-founder Andrew Crump. "We also make it easy for leagues to keep people engaged and playing."

Mitoo's $1.5 million investment announced today comes from a cross section of backers who have experience in both social media and sports. Some of the notable names that are leading the round include the Dave Morin and Kevin Colleran-led Slow Ventures, White Star Capital, former Facebook vice president of global marketing Tom Arrix, and strategic investor Pentland Group, the parent company of sports brands like Canterbury, Speedo, Berghaus, Mitre, and Prostar.

Initially launching as Mitoo as part of the Las Vegas Downtown Project, the company moved to Silicon Valley because the location is more ideal for recruiting talent and marketing its products to sports leagues and athletes. "We were in Downtown for almost 18 months," said Crump. "For our company, which is very much an emerging technology-based startup that is growing beyond the seed stage, we are looking to the future, and it would be hard to grow that type of company in Vegas." Prior to Vegas, Crump ran a version of the company called Bluefields in the U.K., and acquired (and co-opted the name of) a company working in the same space called Mitoo.

As it makes its first major foray into sports leagues in the U.S., the company faces a bit of challenge in shifting from sports and league structures that are more European in their organization and appeal. While soccer (or football, fútbol, whatever you want to call it) is continuing to see more people participate in adult leagues, sports like softball and kickball are pretty unique to the U.S.

The biggest challenge in expanding its platform to North America for Mitoo, surprisingly, has been a language barrier. "Everybody calls things completely different," Crump said of the differences between running sports leagues here versus the U.K. "It's almost like learning a foreign language. But the truth is, the sports themselves, the way they are played, the way they are organized, and the way they are structured are all the same. As long as we understand sport and the market for athletes, we are fine."

[illustration by Hallie Bateman]