UK SportsTech startup, Globatalent wants fans to be able to invest in the careers of prospective sports stars, in return for a share of their future incomes.
The global sports market is estimated to be worth more than $US480 billion, encompassing a huge proportion of the world’s population.
Esports, wearable technology, and virtual reality are all emerging verticals in the field of SportsTech, signalling lucrative opportunities for investors.
But how about the opportunity to buy and sell shares of your favourite clubs and athletes – just like a publicly traded company on the stock market?
“We always like to say, imagine getting the opportunity to invest early in Michael Jordan’s career,” says Globatalent CEO, Sunil Bhardwaj.
He says it provides huge opportunities for clubs, fans – and budding sports stars, who need a financial boost to kick start their careers.
“What the club gets is funding and increased fan engagement,” says Bhardwaj. “Users will engage, comment, watch more content, read more news – in short, clubs get another avenue for funding.”
Globatalent is part of the Startupbootcamp Sport & EventTech accelerator program in Melbourne.
Bhardwaj says Globatalent has positioned itself at the nexus of the three groups – with an online fundraising platform for rising stars, a fan engagement site for local clubs, and a way to turn a passion into a profit for sports fans.
Bhardwaj, who worked over twenty years as a General Manager for the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto, says Globatalent leads a wave of fan engagement technology within the sports industry.
“Fan engagement is changing,” he says. “The fan is becoming a main actor.”
A 2019 TechCrunch survey of industry experts (including investors, founders and professionals from teams, leagues and media properties) reveals a similar trend – 78 percent of the investors, founders and professionals surveyed selected fan engagement technologies as the sector tipped to have the biggest impact on the sports industry.
It’s a trend that has investors scrambling.
“The sports market has the opportunity to be a multi trillion-dollar ecosystem,” says Gayatri Sarkar, managing partner at Hype Capital, a SportsTech focused venture capital firm.
“As the infusion of deep tech continues in smart venues, gambling, performance biometrics and many more sub-verticals where data is the engine, we’ll naturally see more and more deep tech investors entering the sports investment landscape,” she says.
Traditionally, startups in the sports industry have based their business model on a core sports stakeholder: generally a sports team, a league or their properties.
Relationships with these audiences require a lengthy sales process and make cents on the dollar compared to partnerships with other industries.
But the growth of the fan engagement sector has allowed new opportunities to emerge.
“Years ago organisations did not care about their followers, only about having spectators, but now with globalisation they understand that a fan can be anywhere in the world,” Bhardwaj says.
“Technology brings the fan closer to athletes and clubs or franchises.”
Bhardwaj says the platform offers fans tangible and meaningful engagement with their sports teams and players, as opposed to fantasy sports leagues.
“Fantasy sports are just that – fantasy sports,” he says.
“Our users are the real owners.”