As a big sports fan, I know fans love their teams with an unbridled passion and they may drive their friends who don’t share their view a little crazy by filling their social feeds with commentary on the latest game. For like-minded fans, this is great fun, but for your other friends, not so much. What if you could engage with just your sports-fan friends in a social network just for you? That’s what Fancred is trying to do -and they got $3M today to continue to build their product.
The additional funding brings the total to-date to $4.5M. This round includes existing investors Atlas Ventures and Militello Capital, as well as first timer Breakaway Innovation Group. Linda Pizzuti Henry, wife of Red Sox and Boston Globe owner John Henry was an early seed investor.
Co-founder and CEO Kash Razzaghi says at its core, Fancred is an iOS app designed to help fans capture their favorite sports moments and share them with others who have similar enthusiasm for sports. This could actually involve going to a game and sharing pictures and thoughts as you watch the game live, or meeting a bunch of fans from your alma mater at a bar every Saturday during college football season to watch your team together and sharing thoughts and moments from the scene. It could also be fans watching a game at home and posting their impressions throughout the game, while interacting with like-minded people who are watching too.
Whatever the venue, as a natural result of participating you build up a profile with your favorite sports moments. Participants are given a Fancred rating of between 1 and 100 based on how active they are in the Fancred community and Razzaghi says the company hopes that will motivate people to participate more to increase their scores and build their community credibility.
He says the company’s goal is to eventually build the world’s largest sports social network.
Razzaghi acknowledges that people are having these kinds of interactions on Facebook and Twitter too, and he doesn’t want to replace that so much as provide a separate place for sports fans. He says getting people to use a niche social product like his when Facebook and Twitter have size in their favor is a huge challenge, but he believes that products like Instagram and Snapchat show it can be done.
“We aren’t saying don’t talk sports on Facebook and Twitter,” but he says what makes Fancred different is that it builds that portfolio of your favorite moments, a digital scrapbook of sorts and that’s something Facebook and Twitter can’t really do well. Plus he says, you have the community effect too where you can meet other fans.
Fancred today is available just as an iOS app, but they want to expand their engineering staff with this round and build an Android app to continue to grow the community. They aren’t sharing community numbers at the moment, but they are actively working to build a Fancred user base with a network of 150 college interns who are working at a grassroots level at colleges around the country to get young people to use the app, which is an innovative and proactive way of building community quickly.
In terms of monetization, the company has a number of ideas, but short-term it wants to build the community before it decides on a definitive direction. Razzaghi said there are a number of areas they could attack including selling fan gear or selling aggregated data about fans. For instance, he says college and pro teams don’t really know who their fans are. If you have a regular group of folks meeting on a weekly basis to watch their favorite college football team, there could be value in the college understanding that.
Fancred was started in 2012 by some former Brightcove employees, emerging in 2013 from the Boston Techstars startup incubator. Today it has 11 full time employees plus the network of interns.