While the world of sports has undergone significant technological innovations, fantasy sports and the providers of fantasy games have remained virtually unchanged over the past decade. So it’s worth noting that startup Sleeper has taken significant new funding in Silicon Valley to support large traditional fantasy sports apps, like ESPN and Yahoo Sports.
The San Francisco, Calif.-Based startup is looking to provide a fantasy football platform that works more like a social media platform than traditional vendors, who have a standalone app that offers little to no social connection between users of the app, other than those in their own fantasy football league. Sleeper is an ad-free fantasy sports option that has largely gone under the radar over the past two NFL seasons, but which, with new funding, will grow and improve its product line.
The company has taken on more than $ 7 million in venture capital funding, including a recent $ 5.3 million Series A led by General Catalyst, adding to a $ 2 million seed funding round. dollars in 2017, led by Birchmore Ventures and including participation from Uber co-founder Garrett Camp’s. venture capital fund, Expa.
The company says it seeks to “bring people together around sport” and that the purpose of the Sleeper app is to “strengthen bonds between friends, families and colleagues” through their fantasy football platform. This mission statement also fits into the monetization strategy, as the app is currently free and CEO Nan Wang told TechCrunch that their immediate goal is “to amass a large user base and make it the stickiest and most engaging product in the category “.
The intriguing aspect of a fantasy football app is the ability for the user to spend a lot of time on the app, either studying their football training or reviewing possible waiver wire transfers for the following week. . Wang told TechCrunch that users spend an average of 50 minutes per day, in season, on the app, which is certainly a number that could lead to real profitability if the app can build up a strong user base. Wang believes that the reason for the time spent on the app is not related to football, but because the company has prioritized its chat feature, which is right at hand. With so much fun for fantastic sports to chat with the rest of its league, and with others using the same platform, it’s easy to see how this feature could pay off down the line. The heavy engagement and time accumulated on the platform is the bread and butter of advertisers and the Sleeper team understands that.
Wang hopes that groups that rely on an outdated ‘bulletin board’ experience on fantastic platforms or impractical email channels or WhatsApp conversations will choose to switch to this platform in order to reduce the number of users. apps needed to engage with his league and run his fantasy football league. With Sleeper providing a solid UI experience, it has grown in popularity among users, and the company hopes to convince more users to quit the platforms they have used for their fantasy football needs, sometimes for longer. of a decade. This is of course much easier said than done.
âThe user acquisition window for fantasy football leagues is strongest from the second week of August through the first week of September. Historically, we’ve seen about 70% of users create their leagues within that three-week window, âWang told TechCrunch. .
The company will use its new funding to continue growing its team, which still has just 10 full-time employees, and expand into sports other than football, specifically mentioning basketball and football at TechCrunch.
Considering the amount of money in the fantasy sports industry and the growth the industry has seen, in terms of information used to better manage its team, there has been surprisingly little to improve infrastructure. With the latest funding for the Sleeper app, it looks like that is changing fast.