AI driven esports audience monetization platform startup FanAI raises $2.5 million to expand growth and data science team
Esports audience data platform powered by artificial intelligence startup, FanAI, announced today the closing of a $2.5M round to expand the product and data science teams and round out the client engagement structure needed to support the startup’s tremendous growth. The startup has raised a total of $4.5 million to date. The recent funding round is led by Courtside Ventures and CRCM Ventures, with participation from BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, BDS Capital, Catalyst Sports, Deep Space Ventures, Everblue Management, Greycroft GC Tracker Fund, M Ventures, Rosecliff Ventures, and Sterling VC.
Founded in 2016 by Johannes Waldstein, FanAI uses artificial intelligence to to identify and optimize audience monetization opportunities for esports audience. It’s platform is already in use by top teams and leagues including Cloud9, OpTic Gaming, Overwatch League’s LA Valiant and NYXL, and Cav’s Legion GC – the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA2K League team. The additional funding will be used to expand the product and data science teams and round out the client engagement structure needed to support the startup’s tremendous growth.
While esports continues to grow rapidly, esports enthusiasts still spend significantly less than fans of traditional sports. As a comparison, in 2017 the average esports fan was expected to spend $3.64, while basketball fans spend, on average, $15 each.1 FanAI wants to change that by driving potential for monetization across the entire esports ecosystem, while providing a personalized experience for fans to engage the most effectively with sponsors.
“Brands and sponsors are flooding the esports industry, but are still struggling to prove return on investment in order to justify marketing spend. Until now, this was next to impossible within the esports ecosystem,” said Johannes Waldstein, founder & CEO of FanAI. “FanAI unlocks the value for our esports clients by providing unique purchase behavior and lifestyle data on their fanbase, opening the doors for sponsors and brands to invest with confidence.”
FanAI enables esports teams, leagues, game publishers, event organizers, broadcasters, agencies and brands to understand, grow, predict and monetize esports audiences by analyzing purchasing behavior, psychographic, social and demographic information. With this critical data, sponsors can improve their return on investment with targeted sponsorships, rights holders can turn audiences into a monetized asset, and consumers benefit from better segmented content.
“As esports investments have grown by orders of magnitude, the sponsorship ecosystem remains an enormous and untapped opportunity. From teams and publishers to agencies and brands, the lucrative demographic of the gaming industry has sparked a lot of interest,” commented Deepen Parikh, Partner at Courtside Ventures. “Johannes and the FanAI team have created a rapidly growing and scalable platform that for the first time enables all parties in the ecosystem to apply actionable data and measurement to their purchasing decisions.”
FanAI not only identifies and categorizes individual fan behaviors, but analyzes the complex interplay of those behaviors to arrive at a well-rounded model of activity for each fan. This enables us to understand those fans and to predict their response and sharing behavior. The FanAI platform consolidates all of this information into a customized set of easy to navigate dashboards to give you a near real-time insight into your audience. FanAI optimizes sponsorship spend by increasing its effectiveness and enabling a much greater return for each sponsor.