Helping people find ways to be active

Hafiz Mitha of PlayCity is on a mission to connect people and increase society’s non-screen time – with the help of a new app

Hafiz Mitha is CEO of PlayCity.

Hafiz Mitha
Hafiz Mitha

What is the PlayCity app?

Mitha: PlayCity is a platform that combines a free user app that helps people find ways to be more active. Players can easily find opportunities to engage in the activities they want, from finding a perfect match to trying a new sport. We partner with other recreational facilities and program providers who promote events, programs and perks that add value to app users who want to find venues close by.

How and why did you come up with this idea?

Mitha: I came up with the app based on a problem that I had. Moving back to Calgary, I wanted to play a new sport and there were amazing tennis courts right next to the condo I lived in. I was blown away at how hard it was to find someone to play with. Most of my friends didn’t play the sport and when I would randomly find someone, they were not in the same skill level and our schedules didn’t align.

The idea then started to percolate as many who I talked to had a hard time meeting others to play with. And after interviewing as many people as I could find, I found common problems that many faced. The platform today is a reflection of the team that has come together and the learnings along the past two years.

Can you give me a sense of how many people are using this app and the potential you see?

Mitha: Today we have helped create over 5,000 unique connections with 80 per cent of our active user base located in Calgary. Our users have registered in hundreds of events at our partner facilities.

Our goal is to work with organizations that share a similar mission of connecting people and increasing physical activity and see the potential to be in every city as the value can be translated to any geographical location.

Currently, we are enrolled in the SFU Radius – Health Promotion Lab based in Vancouver with the goal of building the Lower Mainland area marketplace in 2019.

Can you explain the importance of using technology to bring people together offline?

Mitha: More and more screen time is taking away from experiencing our world in real life. Above and beyond increasing screen time, we’re more connected than we have ever been before – online. Our mission is to help create real, meaningful relationships while experiencing what our cities have to offer. If we can get people to meet in real life, be physically active and learn about other cultures through these interactions, we’re doing our job.

Why did you want to become an entrepreneur?

Mitha: Being an entrepreneur is woven into my DNA. Eighty per cent of my family are small business owners.

Every day is different and although the lows are low, the highs are really high. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with others who, combining our strengths, are committed to the same outcomes. Being an entrepreneur has come with many unique experiences that range from being part of startup accelerators, working with mentors and very smart advisers, and most importantly working with a team that is just as committed to the mission and who tirelessly contribute to the shared goal of creating something of value.

Knowing that it comes with long hours, stressful situations and a very high likelihood of failure push me to dream big and use the opportunity to try to do something massive, versus work for a big corporation and be another cog in the wheel. We’re here for a limited time, let’s make it count.

We live in a strange time where our world is constantly being divided. Political views, cultural nuances, the colour of our skin – when we strip away everything that forms our ‘identity,’ we will find that we’re all quite similar, part of one race, the human race.

There’s so much beauty in meeting and learning from others who are seemingly different from us.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business

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