Millions.co, a social commerce platform geared towards 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 Series A because the seasoned staff behind Millions self-funded the primary wave of growth to get the platform launched.
The founding staff 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 (Fight for the Cure) and Bruce Buffer (a veteran sports activities announcer).
Millions launched its fan engagement social commerce platform in April — with an preliminary three merchandise for professional/semi-pro athletes to pitch at their followers: Namely customized merchandize (together with a free design service); ask-me-anything personalised movies; and a pay-per-view streaming providing that lets followers pay to tune right into a livestream of their favourite sportsperson.
The startup’s preliminary plan had been to construct simply an e-commerce and merchandising platform however, having constructed that element, Salamunovic says the staff determined to bundle in video merchandise — akin to personalised movies and “democratising” pay-per-view (PPV).
“Our biggest advantage and differentiator is that we are strictly focused on the sports world and fan engagement,” he tells TechCrunch. “The obvious indirect competitors are Twitch (heavily focused on e-sports/gaming), Patreon (focused on creators), Represent.com (focused on merch drops for ‘influencers’), and even OnlyFans (we know who they focus on) but we’re laser-focused on the multibillion-dollar sports market.”
“Cameo has a very similar product to our video ‘Ask Me Anything’ platform — but we don’t focus on birthday shout-outs we focus on allowing fans to ask their favorite athletes questions around their training, their success, predictions (we’ve seen a lot of gamblers use our platform to get tips) and less on things like shout-outs,” he provides. “We love Cameo, but we’re really different and focused on sports.”
“Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook are all great social media platforms that allow athletes to engage and interact with their fans but it’s not a great place to monetize your audience,” Salamunovic additionally argues. “We help athletes create a brand, build a merch line, sell video content (personalized videos and watch parties all on a single platform). We’re not trying to replace any of these platforms, we’re complementing them by allowing the athletes to provide a single link and landing page for deeper interaction and monetization. The fans seem to love it too.”
At this stage, Millions solely has round 300 athlete profiles reside however says it has “thousands” who’ve registered curiosity throughout quite a lot of sports activities classes.
Its first focus — together with for partnerships with businesses and sports activities leagues — has been on “combat sports and gyms”. But the platform has a protracted listing 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 top-tier athletes who can command a whole lot of tens of millions in sponsorship charges by inking partnerships with prime manufacturers to advertise their merchandise and who you definitely gained’t discover promoting hats on Millions — there are scores of athletes who aren’t in a position to reduce such candy offers and who may have much more modest fanbases.
It’s that broad area of gamers and performers who Millions 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 accomplice at Volition Capital, urged: “Athletes are always looking for ways to connect on a deeper level with fans, generate additional revenue streams and build their personal brands and Millions offers all of this on a single platform. We think that Millions is the future of fan engagement.”
To assist grease the funnel of sportspeople it must drive eyeballs to its platform, Millions 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 wanted to stay hyper-focused on combat sports and not try to ‘boil the ocean’. Now we’re releasing new athletes’ profiles daily and introducing new sports like football, volleyball, golf and more,” notes Salamunovic. “Really, this platform is designed for any athlete who wants to reach their fans and create new monetization channels without having to put a ton of effort into things like page design, technology, design or logistics… we take care of all that so they can focus on engaging with their fans and most importantly on their sport and training.”
“We’re looking to build the most important sports tech company in history,” he provides. “We’re going to be the Etsy ($21 billion market cap) of sports. That’s an ambitious statement but it’s true; 98% of athletes NEED our product/platform.”
Chasing that scale is why Millions is elevating now. And whereas the early focus has been on North America — the place about 90% of the onboarded sportspeople hail from presently — it reckons there’s “huge growth potential” in Europe and Asia so may be very a lot gunning to construct a world enterprise.
It says it’ll be splashing Series A money on rising its product engineering staff and recruiting to develop its staff 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 believe a powerful thing we’re doing, past just the product offering, is enabling athletes to have a team,” provides Austin. “With Millions, athletes get a marketing team, a personal account manager, and a design team that they can use to build their brand and product line, and to promote to, and further build, their fan base. We allow the athlete to focus on training, playing/fighting, and winning while we help take care of everything else, and coach them on how to brand and market themselves.”
Millions’ enterprise mannequin is to take a 20% reduce of all gross sales athletes make by way of the platform — with the cut up remaining the identical for merchandise or video gross sales.
For the previous, Millions is utilizing a world community of print-on-demand suppliers to do the fulfilment.
While merchandise the platform can customise for athletes to promote as their very own model merch embody t-shirts, caps and hoodies.