FanWide provides a free digital platform for fan clubs which helps out-of-market sports fans find a local game watch party at a sports bar for any team in any city. Millions of displaced fans can use FanWide to find the closest community event for their favorite team and check in for rewards, wherever they are living or traveling. Sports bars pay FanWide to bring them new customers and promote their events. Fan clubs and alumni associations use FanWide’s digital platform to expand their network, organize events, communicate with local fans, report attendance data, enter contests, collect donations, and activate food or drink discounts from the event host or team sponsors.
Where did the genesis/idea for your business come from?
FanWide transcends language, nationality or ethnicity. My father was in the British military, so my family was constantly moving around, and I found that sports were a great way to make new friends. When we immigrated to the United States in 1994, my family continued to use sports as a way to meet others and assimilate into the local community. After I graduated from Duke University (with degrees in Computer Science, Economics, and Digital Media), I moved to Seattle to join Microsoft as an engineering Program Manager. As a work transplant, it was tough to find friends with the same interests until I began attending and promoting basketball game watch parties for our local alumni club. However, organizing them was always inefficient, and although we would bring dozens or hundreds of fans to every event, the bars were always understaffed and unprepared, even though we were generating thousands of dollars in new sales for them. Over the next decade, I managed people in dozens of countries across engineering, sales, and marketing teams, both at Microsoft and while running several startups. I was traveling half the time, and hated trying to find my game on the TV in the hotel, wishing I could explore the city and socialize. I realized that sports fans in every city worldwide needed an easy way to get together to watch their team play, and that venues would pay a service to help them fill their seats.
What do you believe sets your business apart from those already in the market?
FanWide was founded by former Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Oracle engineers with a passion for sports, and the company has four patents pending.
There are event listing sites like TeamBarFinder.com and GameWatch.info, but FanWide’s database is much larger (believed to be the largest sports fan club database in the world).
FanWide differentiates itself by providing end-to-end services to connect and engage sports fans in every city. While there are existing fan clubs that use social networks like Facebook or Meetup to organize their events, FanWide provides them with a digital platform to expand their network, organize events, communicate with local fans, collect and report attendance data, enter contests, receive donations, and activate food or drink discounts from the event host or team sponsors.
There are a few pro teams that show local events in their apps, but they only support a few events in that team’s city. FanWide supports every pro, college and international team in every city, and they can subscribe to our Sports Data Platform to analyze our fan engagement from hundreds of thousands of events. All of FanWide’s services can be integrated within the team’s own website or app.
With FanWide’s scalable cloud platform, if there are enough fans in an area that want to meet up, and a bar that wants to host the event, they will be automatically paired together. Long-term FanWide wants to provide the world’s leading platform to automatically match hosts with fans of any interest group, including TV shows, gaming, politics, board games, trivia, and more.
What’s your key demographic?
FanWide has a free B2C model for sports fans, and a paid B2B model for organizations that want to interact with our network and use our data.
There are tens-of-millions of out-of-market sports fans in the US, and hundreds-of-millions worldwide. This includes work transplants, immigrants, students, military, and travelers for business or leisure.
On the free consumer side, FanWide is targeted the 10,000+ existing pro fan clubs and 10,000+ existing D1 college sports alumni associations, which represents over 10 million out-of-market sports fans in the US. Once FanWide begins to develop its own fan clubs nationwide, we believe will have a network of over 25,000 sports communities to work with.
On the paid business side, FanWide is currently targeting the 1,000+ professional and college teams, 50,000+ sports bars, 1,000+ sports brands, 1,000+ event listing sites, and 1,000+ broadcasters and advertisers. In the future we plan to leverage our network of fan clubs to organizations looking to identify these fans, including the 1,000+ stadiums selling game tickets, 10,000+ retired pro athletes looking to engage fans, 100+ sports retailers, 100+ sports fan travel companies, and 100+ premium sports TV package providers.
Long-term FanWide wants to provide the world’s leading digital platform for all types of fan clubs or interest groups, including esports, gaming, TV shows, politics, board games, trivia, and more. FanWide has the opportunity to impact and better the lives of billions of fans worldwide.
Where do you believe your growth prospects are at?
We regularly promote events for American football, soccer, basketball, baseball and hockey. We plan to bring all major sports to the platform, including rugby, motor sports, boxing, MMA, tennis, golf, horse racing and esports. We plan to monetize from data analytics, in particular through engaging sports betters. Long-term FanWide wants to provide the world’s leading platform to automatically connect hosts with fans of any interest group, including gaming, TV shows, politics, trivia and more.
What have you learnt about yourself building your company?
I’ve learned that I can make tough challenges possible through strong will and determination. This type of leadership inspires others to believe in you and want to support your endeavours.
Are you looking at expanding internationally? If you already have, what lessons can you provide for a business looking to make the jump to being international?
FanWide supports international teams, but we are currently only promoting events in the US. We hope to expand internationally in 2019 to Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the UK. If an investor or strategic partner provides incentives to expand into other countries or languages, those requests will be considered.
As a business, what have been some of the biggest challenges have faced to date?
One of the biggest challenges has been selling to professional sports teams as they often have irrational economics. We gave proposals to several teams and leagues to help them create new fans clubs so that they can generate additional revenue, and they wanted us to pay them to do this work for them.
Looking ahead to the next 12 months, what milestones do you wish to reach?
We wish to release a new mobile app, integrate FanChain to reward fans for engagement, launch rugby and ESports, and close our Series A round.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
There are over 1 billion remote fans worldwide which we will be looking to capture and reward for their engagement.
The Company would like to exit in two to four years after the closing the round, through a strategic acquisition. Based on our scalable technology platform, unique data, and other intellectual property, we hope for a high valuation multiplier. Some of the types of entities which may be interested in acquiring part, or all, of FanWide include:
- Sports Apps Selling Services: There are many existing companies that already build apps or provide services to sports teams, and FanWide‚Äôs services could attract new customers and generate new revenue from their existing customers.
- Sports Apps Needing a Platform: There are many new sports-related endeavors that are being launched with significant financial backing, yet lack any digital platform. FanWide has already been approached by groups investing in esports, cryptocurrencies, and sports betting, to see if we can use our network with their fans or integrate their technology.
- Sports Media Conglomerates: There are hundreds of sports groups that own teams, the digital rights, licensing rights, merchandising rights, and other rights for teams that would utility FanWide as a novel way to better engage their fans, and gain insight with new sports data. Examples could include Disney (ESPN), Infront Sports, CAA, and WME-IMG.
- Social Networks: FanWide should be a great acquisition target for Facebook. FanWide provides new types of communities and a new monetization model (through event auctions) that would generate significant new revenue. Additionally FanWide already has Facebook integration built in, including its accounts, social postings, and fan clubs.
- TV Analytics Companies: FanWide may be considered for acquisition by Nielsen, upon proving that its Out-Of-Home (OOH) TV viewership measurements are faster, more accurate, and have less bias.