We bring you a series of interviews with the 10 companies accepted into Startupbootcamp’s Sports & EventTech cohort.
In this edition we talked to the CEO of Globatalent Sunil Bhardwaj.
We’ll start with the benefits of your platform at club level. What are they?
Sunil Bhardwaj: “In terms of the club, the benefit is if you are a fan that you want to be closer to the club and strengthen your support. So what we offer is to help support investment into a club, and in exchange give you a percentage of future income.
“For example, a football club, could offer a possible 10 per cent on the future transfer rights of a player. If a club transfers a player for say 10 million pounds, to another club, the people who invest in the club get 10 per cent of that 10 million, so one million will be shared with all the fans that invested.
“The second thing is in terms of fan engagement. So let’s say you can buy digital assets of say Manchester City – but it could be any club. The club can bring in fans for various initiatives – fans could vote for the design of the second official playing strip, submit votes for which player will say Merry Christmas or they could submit player questions or vote on the most valuable player of the game. So that means that you as a user have different types of satisfaction, one is economic and another is emotional.
“What the club gets is funding for one and the other thing is increased fan engagement because again, if your users are investing into your club, they will be more than willing to be involved in the club’s journey, they will engage, comment, watch more content, read more news. We think if you bring in more engagement and engaged fans it can be attractive to sponsors.
“In short, clubs are getting another avenue for funding.”
And then the individual athlete?
SB: “Globatalent is a platform that allows fans to benefit from their passion by buying and selling rights in the careers of future sports stars, solving the problem of an athletes need for funds in his or her early stages. We always like to say imagine getting the opportunity to invest early Michael Jordan’s early stage.
“With athletes they get a new source of money to fund their career. But what does the investor get? We’ll use tennis as an example. For an individual player investors can get a percentage return of a player’s future ATP/WTA prizemoney.”
Is there an upper limit of what fans and investors can contribute?
SB: “We limit the amount that you can monetise on the platform at 30 per cent. And why 30? If you monetise hundred percent of your future income, then you don’t have any incentive to perform effort your goals. If 30 is the maximum then you still have to perform and improve for the other 70 per cent. The interest of the athletes and the interest of the fan will be aligned.
“The second thing is we don’t allow users to hold more than 10 per cent of the 30 per cent.”
Of course, you don’t want one party to hold so much of an athlete’s rights.
I’m very curious about regulation and stuff like collective bargaining agreements and how do you make sure that your company abides by any regulations and legalities?
SB: “One way is to be aligned with international federations. We must align with fair play and any regulation which is related to individuals and clubs, and their rights.
“This will never be a platform to take advantage of emerging athletes, this is the other way round. This platform can help young people to develop their talent. Now, if they have talent, they have an option to carry on their sports career, because they will get funding. Secondly, we democratise the participation in sport. Rather than allow only venture capitalists to invest in a club or an athlete, we’re making it global and democratic. Then in terms of regulation, we are fully aware about everything which is related to anti-money laundering and fully compliant with anti-money laundering regulations globally.
“Every single user in our platform is asked to pass the QIC & KYC anti-money laundering checks and every single transaction in our platform is monitored through the AML platform, a third party that we use to monitor any transaction in our platform and prevent money laundering. The third thing is that we are fully compliant with any kind of regulations because we want to positively work with the industry.
“We don’t issue shares, we don’t issue equity, nothing like that. It’s just the player is selling their sporting rights like they do through marketing agencies, sponsorship deals, managing agencies, so it’s the same but we split it into small pieces and allow anyone to invest.”
The rewards, memorabilia and the access to players and fans that’s really interesting. That really gives an increased appeal for players and clubs. Is that something that you have noticed at the moment the fact that instead of clubs or athletes needing the financial investment maybe fans can just buy tokens for additional rewards?
SB: “We have thought about that and it is in our roadmap. So, first what we are trying to do is to build the biggest sports community that connects fans with access to athletes and clubs.
“We can use another individual tennis player as an example. He’s 20 years old, and he is aiming to be ranked in the top 50 on the ATP tour inside three years. So he’s selling 10 per cent of his future ATP Tour prizemoney. His journey to get to the top 50, with people partly investing in him means he has built a community. Through his journey you can get rewards like signed shirts or rackets that he’s played matches with.
“So there is an opportunity to receive memorabilia which is an added fan engagement reward from clubs and athletes. That is something we’ll offer shortly.”
You’ve just brought on former Argentine international great Javier Saviola as an investor?
SB: “Yes we have! He’s a key investor for us and he’ll provide additional backing and experience to our team. Our team has more than 60 years of experience in the sports industry. We have experience as founders, I’ve been a General Manager for major basketball teams, we have a former Olympian and FC Barcelona basketballer to complement other key investors in the sports industry.”
Do you have any direct competitors, who else is doing such an end to end platform that you know of? Or do you have competitors in this space?
SB: “Yes, we do. Our competitors they do similar things like selling the rights of athletes but none of them have a secondary market. That’s one of our fundamental differences. That means that if you invest in a young tennis player and you invest 100 pounds, that means that you have 100 digital assets of that tennis player. You can sell 50 of them, P2P, through our platform and hold the rest of them, or you can sell all of them.
“So that’s been that we have included a secondary market and that is one of our biggest differences.
“So we have a deep knowledge of the sports ecosystem and that’s allowed us to build a business that solves different problems in the in the sports industry like memorabilia, funding, fan engagement. A 360 degree platform like ours, there isn’t any platforms like the one that we built and developed.”