Gone are the days when viewers simply tune into a sporting event and then sit back and relax. Fanmode is one of a number of companies centred on increasing engagement, and is integrating the Internet of Things and connected devices.
Tech start-up Fanmode identifies real-time sentiment around major sporting events, using smartphones and other devices to encourage fan communication.
The business, which is part of the GrowthBusiness Tech Innovators 2014 list, is fast approaching a full launch of its system.
Based in: London
Founded in: 2011
No. of employees: 12
Company founder: Neven Murugen
Durban-born engineer Neven Murugan built a computer network that helped his uncle, a pathologist, overcome restrictions on black medical staff entering hospitals. He developed a love and understanding of networks and the internet – now he wants to use his skills to help the world to unite through sport.
In 2001, Murugan helped bring the internet to South Africa using undersea cables for the ISP Internet Solutions. He left Internet Solutions in 2012 to start Fanmode.
Background business profile:
Fanmode was created by Neven Murugan to enhance his experience of following his favourite club, Manchester United, by giving him and global fans a representation in the Stadium. In today’s increasingly globalised world of sports the leading clubs often has more fans far away than in their local markets. Fanmode’s services offer fans the opportunity to connect with each-other, to their clubs and to the players. For the clubs, Fanmode is a toll to activate and gain insights about their global fan-base.
As a big Manchester United fan, Neven Murugen doesn’t get to go to many games as he lives far away from his team. It was while celebrating a goal scored by Ryan Giggs that he felt disconnected with what was going on all those miles away.
‘We [Fanmode] want to help fans make a difference. The global language of fans is universal – we want to support our team, wherever we are,’ Murugen says. ‘You could have 70,000 fans in the stadium, but the players can see there are five million fans outside spurring them on.’
The first two years of Fanmode has been dominated by research and development, growing its intellectual property and the team. Now a team of nine, the business is experiencing a growing number of users and is working with Deloitte’s sports business group to further ramp up development.
‘This is a big project, but the technology is actually the easier part. Getting buy-in from all the relevant groups is one of the biggest challenges. We are trying to create a product for fans but a commercial ecosystem for the sports industry, with revenue from licensing, data, brand integration and merchandise, ‘ he adds.
‘We are talking with a lot of different people. Negotiations can take a long time. But, if our vision holds true, we think we can bring reward to many different parts of the industry.
Fanmode recently raised $2.4 million so that it could continue to develop the platform. It has also helped to recruit a team, travel and do all of the business development activities that are essential to succeed.
‘It should carry us through for up to the next 12 months, as we hope to make some breakthroughs with partners,’ Murugen says.
- Entered into a partnership with Wembley Stadium
- First public showcase of the mobile and wearable applications
- Investment round closed of $2.4 million
- Tech trials with leading Premier League clubs
- First sporting event with Fanmode integrated into the stadium
- Series A funding round
- iOS and Android compatibility for smartphones, tablets
- Wearable tech – Sony Smartwatch, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear 2
- Developing a smart TV app, Xbox Kinect compatibility and potential merchandise integration – football shirts, armbands
- Vibecast: fans can participate in a shared expression of emotions using mobile and wearable devices
- Vibelink: connect with friends in a social environment with photo services and messaging
- Vibestream: Stay up to date on latest conversations around your clubs and receive updates from the matches
- Deloitte: Sport Business Group
- Leaders in Sport
- Business angels, primarily from Sweden and South Africa
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