Hundreds of thousands.co, a social commerce platform geared in the direction of skilled and semi-professional athletes wanting assist to monetize their fanbase by promoting merch and/or on-demand video, has grabbed $10 million in funding led by Boston-based Volition Capital.
The spherical is being loosely pegged as a Collection A because the seasoned workforce behind Hundreds of thousands self-funded the primary wave of improvement to get the platform launched.
The founding workforce consists of CEO Matt Whitteker, a boxing health club proprietor who co-founded the availability chain knowledge administration unicorn Assent Compliance and NoNotes.com; CMO Brandon Austin, co-founder of Go-Fish Cam; and, in advisor roles, Adrian Salamunovic, co-founder of DNA 11 and CanvasPop; Scott Whitteker (Battle For The Remedy) and Bruce Buffer (a veteran sports activities announcer).
Hundreds of thousands‘ launched its fan engagement social commerce platform in April — with an preliminary three merchandise for professional/semi-pro athletes to pitch at their followers: Particularly customized merchandize (together with a free design service); ask-me-anything customized movies; and a pay-per-view streaming providing that lets followers pay to tune right into a stay stream of their favourite sportsperson.
The startup’s preliminary plan had been to construct simply an ecommerce and merchandising platform however, having constructed that part, Salamunovic says the workforce determined to bundle in video merchandise — resembling customized movies and “‘democratiszing’ pay-per-view (PPV).
“Our largest benefit and differentiator is that we’re strictly centered on the sports activities world and fan engagement,” he tells BadilHost. “The apparent oblique rivals are Twitch (closely centered on e-sports/gaming), Patreon (centered on creators), Characterize.com (centered on merch drops for ‘influencers’), and even Onlyfans (we all know who they give attention to) however we’re laser centered on the multi-billion greenback sports activities market.”
“Cameo has a really related product to our video ‘Ask Me Something’ platform — however we don’t give attention to birthday shout outs we give attention to permitting followers to ask their favourite athletes questions round their coaching, their success, predictions (we’ve seen a number of gamblers use our platform to get suggestions) and fewer on issues like Shoutouts,” he provides. “We love Cameo, however we’re actually totally different and centered on sports activities.”
“Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Fb are all nice social media platforms that enable athletes to interact and work together with their followers but it surely’s not an incredible place to monetize your viewers,” Salamunovic additionally argues. “We assist athletes create a model, construct a merch line, promote video content material (Personalised movies and watch events all on a single platform). We’re not attempting to interchange any of those platforms, we’re complementing them by permitting the athletes to supply a single hyperlink and touchdown web page for deeper interplay and monetization. The followers appear to find it irresistible too.”
At this stage, Hundreds of thousands solely has round 300 athlete profiles stay however says it has “1000’s” who’ve registered curiosity throughout quite a lot of sports activities classes.
Its first focus — together with for partnerships with companies and sports activities leagues — has been on “fight sports activities and gymnasiums”. However the platform has a protracted checklist of sports activities varieties within the search filter — from lacrosse to water polo to baseball or gymnastics — so the ambition is to go after a really broad funnel of professional/semi sportspeople.
And for each Michael Jordan or Cristiano Ronaldo — aka, these high tier athletes who can command tons of of thousands and thousands in sponsorship charges by inking partnerships with high manufacturers to advertise their merchandise and who you actually received’t discover promoting hats on Hundreds of thousands — there are scores of athletes who aren’t capable of minimize such candy offers and who can have much more modest fanbases.
It’s that broad area of gamers and performers who Hundreds of thousands hopes will flock to its platform — and take up its devoted provide of social commerce instruments and tech to interact with and monetize their followers.
Commenting on the funding in a press release, Sean Cantwell, managing companion at Volition Capital, recommended: “Athletes are at all times on the lookout for methods to attach on a deeper stage with followers, generate extra income streams and construct their private manufacturers and Hundreds of thousands affords all of this on a single platform. We expect that Hundreds of thousands is the way forward for fan engagement.”
To assist grease the funnel of sportspeople it must drive eyeballs to its platform, Hundreds of thousands is providing athletes a “signing bonus” after they be a part of and begin promoting — with quite a lot of tiers of bonus (of as much as $5k) per sportsperson.
“We initially wished to remain hyper-focused on fight sports activities and never attempt to ‘boil the ocean’. Now we’re releasing new athletes profiles day by day and introducing new sports activities like soccer, volleyball, golf and extra,” notes Salamunovic. “Actually, this platform is designed for any athlete who desires to succeed in their followers and create new monetization channels with out having to place a ton of effort into issues like web page design, expertise, design or logistics… we maintain all that to allow them to give attention to partaking with their followers and most significantly on their sport and coaching.”
“We’re seeking to construct a very powerful sports activities tech firm in historical past,” he provides. “We’re going to be the Etsy (21B market cap) of sports activities. That’s an formidable assertion but it surely’s true. 98% of athletes NEED our product/platform.”
Chasing that scale is why Hundreds of thousands is elevating now. And whereas the early focus has been on North America — the place about 90% of the onboarded sportspeople hail from at present — it reckons there’s “enormous development potential” in Europe and Asia so may be very a lot gunning to construct a world enterprise.
It says it’ll be splashing Collection A money on rising its product engineering workforce and recruiting to develop its workforce usually, in addition to spending on advertising and marketing to get the phrase out to athletes and get extra signed as much as construct their very own manufacturers and promote direct to followers.
“I consider a strong factor we’re doing, previous simply the product providing, is enabling athletes to have a workforce,” provides Austin. “With Hundreds of thousands, athletes get a advertising and marketing workforce, a private account supervisor, and a design workforce that they’ll use to construct their model and product line, and to advertise to, and additional construct, their fan base. We enable the athlete to give attention to coaching, enjoying/combating, and successful whereas we assist maintain all the things else, and coach them on how one can model and market themselves.”
Hundreds of thousands’ enterprise mannequin is to take a 20% minimize of all gross sales athletes make by way of the platform — with the break up remaining the identical for merchandise or video gross sales.
For the previous, Hundreds of thousands is utilizing a world community of print-on-demand suppliers to do the fulfilment.
Whereas merchandise the platform can customise for athletes to promote as their very own model merch embrace t-shirts, caps and hoodies.