Big news is swirling in the social media world. The rise of social networking and online communities has exploded in recent years. With all the content being shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, there's one common theme being spread across these communities like wildfire, and that's sports.
Fancred, a startup out of Boston - who recently received $3 million in funding led by Atlas Ventures and Militello Group - are looking to capitalize on all that content and condense it into one digital shoebox.
"Sports has always been able to carve out a really strong vertical for itself in any form of communication, whether it's print, radio,or tv. We believe that we're in the forefront of how people are using social networks to communicate with one another. We think sports will demand its own vertical", said Kash Razzaghi, CEO of Fancred in an interview with UPI.
To put it simply: Fancred is the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Vine/Pinterest for sports fans.
Fancred condenses all the best features of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into one social network platform. From there, you build a community of friends that share the same interests in teams, or your can just build a network of friends. While you're uploading animated gifs, pictures of ticket stubs, and rival parodies, you're also building up your "cred" or your Fancred for that matter.
The idea came to Kash Razzaghi from personal experience and market opportunity. "The premise of Fancred comes from a personal point in my life", Razzaghi told UPI. Kash grew up in a small town of Mississippi, with his family originally from Iran.
He realized very early on that the fabric of small towns connect and build deep community around team sports. So he used team sports as a way to integrate himself into the community. So naturally, he became a passionate Mississippi State fan.
Attending many games while growing up, Razzaghi would find himself saving a ticket stub, photos, programs, all the way to the pom-poms. After he accumulated all these keepsakes, he would put them in a shoebox. After a while, he noticed he gathered up two dozen shoe boxes of just sports memorabilia!
"Fans do that, they save these things because I think to them, sports is more than who wins and loses, it's more about the things that are memorable", Razzaghi explains to UPI.
"You save these mementos: To this day, I have a picture of me and Papi on my desk", added Razzaghi.
The idea came to them over a couple of drinks at a bar. So from time to time Razzaghi and his co-founders would spend some time together thinking about it and whiteboarding it.
Eventually they moved forward with the idea. Razzaghi quit his full time job at BrightCove, an online video platform company, to pursue his vision of creating Fancred. A week later, Razzaghi had his second child. "I was literally pitching investors outside the hospital room where my wife and son were resting!", Razzaghi excitingly points out.
It took a span of 8 months to raise money needed to build the application. They eventually launched their idea in 2013.
As of today, Fancred is growing its user base by 50% monthly. I wasn't able to get an exact amount, however Razzaghi did add, "We're happy with the growth, which helped us enable another round of funding."
When asked about Fancred's growth strategy, Razzaghi added, "There's a huge component to grassroots building. We're building communities around teams, and we think a good place to do that is at universities and colleges." Fancred is currently working with 64 universities to build up their brand.
When asked about Fancred's audience, Razzaghi replied, "What's really satisfying to see is that we have a really active female audience". The user base is slightly tilted on the male side, but not much. Razzaghi ballparked it at about 60/40 which debunks the notion that sports is a solely male dominated passion.
Facebook and Twitter: Those are the competitors
Some of the competitors that immediately come to mind are Facebook and Twitter. There are some similar platforms using a somewhat similar model overseas in the soccer community, but nothing is on Fancred's level.
In the end, "the way I fundamentally look at it: on an iphone, there's 16 tiles on the homescreen, and I'm battling to be one of those 16 tiles". Essentially, Razzaghi looks at every app on your phone as a competitor
How do they plan to monetize this:
It's an amazing product, don't get me wrong. The real question is: How does it plan to make money?
"We're seeing a huge shift on how people buy products through mobile", Razzaghi tells UPI. His vision is to have fans visit Fancred and be given the opportunity to buy tickets to the game, their favorite jersey, etc. He hopes to monetize Fancred in that aspect.
Another example would be, "Sponsorships in advertisements that make sense with the community." For instance: Nike. It's combining brands and a userbase, so that they both gain value. Another source of revenue could be their database of fans. IE: licensing opportunities with teams, leagues. Media can take advantage of that.
Plans for the future
With their recent $3 million investment, Fancred is looking to continue expansion into other platforms such as Android. They plan on releasing their Android app sometime in October.
Fancred was founded in November of 2012 with help of a $1.5 million seed round. Investors included Atlas Venture and Militello Group which are based in Boston. Other investors included Linda Pizzuti Henry (the wife of Red Sox Owner, John Henry), and Boston TechStars. Fancred is based out of Boston.