A Sydney-based start-up offering fans the chance to take part in unique experiences with their sporting idols is set to expand around the world thanks to partnerships with some of the biggest clubs in the world.
Fan+ is a centralised marketplace connecting fans with their favourite sporting club, athlete or personality, allowing them to purchase an experience with them.
The start-up presents a way for clubs and athletes to have a new revenue stream, and allows fans to get a unique one-on-one experience with their idols, with a percentage of the cash going to charity, too.
Some of the experiences listed on the marketplace include walking the winners trophy onto the field at your favourite sporting match, watching your favourite players courtside at an NBA match and a one-on-one training session with your sporting hero.
The platform was officially launched six months ago, and has already attracted heavyweight investors including Pacific Equity Partners founder Rickard Gardell, Nudie Juice Australia co-founder James Ajaka and Hoyts Cinema Group CEO Damian Keogh.
Fan+ co-founder Rod Harys, the former boss of the National Basketball League’s Sydney Kings, said the platform has grown rapidly since it was launched at the start of the year.
“We’ve had some good traction around the sale of experiences, and the investor group we’ve pulled together,” Harys said. “It’s quite an impressive group that have all gotten behind the platform. They believe in the platform and the people, and the future success of it.”
Fan+ is now eyeing an expansion to the UK and US, and has already inked partnerships with sporting giants including the National Basketball Association’s San Antonio Spurs and the English Premier League’s Arsenal FC.
Overall, the start-up has signed partnerships with five NBA teams and five EPL clubs.
This will involve Australian fans being able to purchase unique matchday experiences to travel overseas, to watching these sporting clubs via the Fan+ platform.
“That was purely through existing contacts and pitching ideas to clubs overseas,” Harys said. “What attracted them is that it’s opening up a sales channel to them in a different market when a lot of their focus is in their own countries and the Asia market, whereas in Australia they haven’t got any partners.
“So when we came along with our proposition and opportunity they jumped on it. It’s great for them to capture Australians’ love to travel to the US and UK – it’s an additional sales channel we can leverage for them.”
This is where Qantas comes in
Fan+ was selected by Qantas to be part of its AVRO start-up program last year, and Harys said this has done wonders for the company’s growth and development.
“We haven’t created some wizzbang technology or code, we’re predominantly an online marketplace,” he said. “The opportunity we got from Qantas to go through its start-up program gave the platform a lot of credibility from day one, and enabled us to raise capital.”
“The Qantas piece was a big part of the success we’ve had to date and the opportunity we got given to participate and go through that accelerator program has been a huge boost for us to get where we are. We’ll continue to leverage that relationship and the investor group we have to open up doors. It’s a big part of how and why we are where we are.”
Soon after completing the Qantas program, Fan+ raised $500,000 in just eight weeks.
The company has enjoyed significant success and growth in a short period of time, and Harys attributes much of this to the commitment and passion of his team.
“A lot of sweat equity, a lot of long hours and a lot of work in a short space of time to get a little speed to market – we wanted to promote it as much as we could with the funds we’ve been able to raise and give ourselves a nice runway to maximise the investment and generate sales,” he said.
“We won’t have to raise further capital, the business will be self-sustainable and investors are there as a backup should we need to raise capital – that’s the goal.”
Helping clubs and athletes
The start-up has been able to avoid the “chicken and the egg” scenario that is so common when trying to grow a two-sided marketplace by making the platform so appealing to all parties.
“A lot of sporting clubs are under-resourced and most clubs don’t have the technology for this, nor do the individual athletes,” Harys said. “I read some stories of athletes’ lives after sport and they’d had mental health issues and some fell into health issues.
“We want to keep these athletes in front of the fans’ minds, it’s still keeping them relevant and doing what they love, and they can generate a revenue stream as they go.”
Some of the most popular experiences on the platform have been with Collingwood Magpies superstar Adam Treloar, and Harys said the team is looking to incorporate more affordable experiences like this.
“We need to ensure that we've got enough inventory at the lower price point versus the higher price tailored to the corporate market,” he said.
And the platform is designed to work with the clubs and athletes, not compete with them.
“We wanted to stay unique and be creative in our offering, and create a marketplace that adds value to clubs and athletes,” Harys said.
“It’s working with them not against them. It’s a complimentary service.”