Entrepreneurship and startup community Techstars‘ reach is international, but one local startup has joined its 13-week Techstars Sports Accelerator Powered by Indy.
Blockchain-based company VO2, which was launched by University of Pennsylvania students after their sophomore years, lets athletes “tokenize themselves and create fan-athlete economies,” per Techstars’ description. The four-person founding crew joined the Indianapolis-based accelerator this month.
Arham Habib, the corporate’s CEO, informed Technical.ly he’d provide you with the concept for a platform that will permit athletes and followers to attach in a manner that isn’t presently mainstream. While followers should purchase crew or participant merch, many athletes — particularly these in faculty or early of their profession — don’t really see a lot of the income raised through faculty or professional groups.
He texted COO Arpan Bagui final summer season concerning the concept, and by November, the pair had included the enterprise. The platform makes use of polygon, an ethereum blockchain know-how, to record athlete tokens on its market and to permit for fast transactions and scalability. Fans should purchase the tokens to do issues like acquire nearer entry to athletes, or get rewarded when your athlete does effectively. For instance, a participant may ballot token holders concerning the sneakers they need to put on at tonight’s recreation or get first unique entry to their merch drops earlier than different followers.
“Blockchain is really good at cutting out middlemen, and we see it as a chance to connect fans and athletes directly,” Bagui stated.
The crew’s CTO, Jun Kim, and Alex Zhang, head engineer, spherical out the founding crew. The platform is presently in beta with a naked bones product to assist its proof of idea. They’re wanting ahead to the networking and enterprise improvement Techstars will convey all through the accelerator, in addition to the suite of advisors the Techstars community brings.
“Our team has a lot of talent and heart, but not a lot of experience,” Bagui stated. “We’re excited to learn how to run a company, develop a product, and focus on our KPIs.”
After the three months, Habib stated the crew has eventual plans of elevating seed cash — they’ve raised about $400,000 from family and friends spherical — and making the product permissionless in order that any athlete can be part of the platform. They’re aiming to get 1,000 customers linked earlier than a public launch, and produce some thought leaders within the blockchain area onboard. The platform is considerably distinctive in that area, the leaders suppose, as a result of its focused customers are 18- to 30-year-old sports activities followers like themselves, and doesn’t require a pockets setup, only a bank card.
And whereas the primary customers are the followers, the product is designed to convey some monetary ease to the athletes, too. They’re usually overlooked of the excessive revenues sports activities groups make every year, and VO2 connects them to a money-making alternative instantly, the founders stated.
“For athletes, a big drag in the market for them is financial literacy,” Habib stated. “This is putting them in a situation to actively sustain their careers.”