What is a fan in 2020?
For this, we look back to our time on GPL (the Global Poker League), where the idea for Socios.com was first born, and when we asked ourselves, how can we involve the fans more in what we do; how can we give them more of a voice? That’s when the genesis for Chiliz & Socios.com was first born, and we set about to create a platform to solve this problem.
So how do you define a fan in 2020? The most important thing to say in answer to this is 99% of sports fans are not in the stadium. Sport has become a global phenomenon, propelled even further in recent years by social media, global TV rights, and the attraction of superstar players. There are more fans outside the domestic market, than there are inside, and for that reason, the relationship between a team and its fan base, has changed. Socios.com is a fan transactional platform that will change this relationship further because it will bridge the gap between the team and the fan. Supporters will buy the Fan Tokens issued in partnership with the club, and the fans can then vote on certain polls and surveys, and can influence decision-making, which in turn will allow clubs to engage more with their fan bases, wherever they are in the world.
Competition & Marketplace: Blue Ocean V Red Ocean
Right now, we don’t believe we have competition. There are a lot of sports-related crypto projects, but no-one is doing what we’re doing. Firstly it’s crazy and secondly, it’s very expensive. We have the benefit of having the first mover advantage, and the network play, in that we have already partnered with some of the biggest teams in the world, which will attract more and more clubs; and the more teams we have onboard, the more users we will have. Sports teams are interested in joining us because we will have hundreds of thousands of users, with one thing in common – their devotion to their team.
We are lucky to be right in the middle of a big blue ocean, because this is an unknown market space. These are unchartered waters – unexplored and untainted by competition. We are the only company doing what we do, and we are not in the red ocean, which is full of traditional crypto wallets and exchanges. The potential for opportunity and profitable growth is vast but our goal is not to reinvent the wheel. This is why we work with existing protocols. Our mission is to be one of the biggest blockchain mainstream apps in the world.
We are even luckier to have a talented team, a product that’s just about to be launched, some of the biggest brands in sports and to have Binance as a strategic partner.
Creating A Strong Brand
Like any new brand entering a market, we have had to build a name for ourselves, to forge a reputation in both the sports and crypto industries, and to create an audience of potential customers ready for our product launch. Over the last 18 months, our efforts have focused on PR, education and building an audience through social media. We are fortunate enough to be able to leverage the strength of our club partners, and each partner is committed to promoting both Socios.com & Chiliz. But the most important thing we’ve been able to do is to offer fans a taste of what Socios.com is all about through free VIP experiences and match tickets. Often the best way to acquire new customers is to offer them something for free – they trial it, they like it, they want more. You only need to look at our social media channels to see how far we’ve come in this respect. With no product yet and a database of almost 80,000 football fans who have already signed-up, we already have a strong, passionate and devoted fan base, which is an incredible achievement in itself.
And we have so much more to come, including 2,000 tickets/ VIP experiences to give away for this football season, and everything we do from a marketing perspective, will be supported by the teams themselves.
It’s important to remember that we are working very hard behind-the-scenes in preparation for our app launch and for the forthcoming FTOs. But it takes time, and sometimes more time than you anticipate. Our job is about educating fans, acquiring potential customers, converting them into registered users/holders of Fan Tokens, and then retaining them. More than anything, we are a B2C marketing business, with a consumer-facing product.
Early release of the Socios.com app
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve spent the last few weeks gearing up for the early release of our product. We changed the LED advertising at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium and our hashtag #wearesocios was trending on Twitter for two days running in anticipation for the arrival of the Juventus Fan Tokens. So I’m very pleased to announce that the Socios.com app will be available for download from 6th November. While it’s taken an exceptional amount of work to get to this point, I must stress that this is an early release; this first version is like a ‘testnet’ in the crypto space and we will use this time to not only onboard our first users, but also to identify issues, debug and to prepare for the first Fan Token Offering in November for Juventus Fan Tokens.
When planning an FTO schedule, we not only have to fit in with our own development requirements, but we have to work with our partners to fit in with their calendar of league matches, Champions League matches, as well as their commitments to other partners. Juventus have been very supportive, and to mark the launch, they will be sending a download link to their entire database, followed shortly after by a social media campaign.
We will then continue our ‘free trial’ model to acquire even more users. From the point of launch until the end of January 2020, 25 million $CHZ Tokens and 50,000 Juventus Fan Tokens will be made available for users to collect for FREE via our augmented reality (AR) feature, Token Hunt. Users can collect tokens on a daily basis, or can participate in the localised Token Hunts, where larger concentrations of both $CHZ and Fan Tokens will be available to grab.
All tokens collected for free have exactly the same utility as those that are bought.
Users who want to hunt or purchase Fan Tokens from our other partner clubs will have to wait a little longer – see below for the full FTO Phase 1 schedule. This schedule does not include other unannounced teams in the pipeline, whose FTOs we may still include. The Fan Tokens for all partner teams will be minted next week, so you will be able to see them in the app upon launch. Full Fan Token information including total supply and Fan Token Offering cap will be announced nearer to the time of the FTO.
Please remember that Socios.com was developed for fans (sports fans and crypto fans alike), so we welcome and encourage your feedback.
Product Features (Phase 1)
The app supports multiple languages from the get-go, as well as the following features:
- Token Hunt: Token Hunt is our augmented reality (Pokemon Go-style) feature that lets users hunt down free $CHZ and free Fan Tokens
- Feed: Newsfeed of app/club-related content
- Polls: Every one of our partners has committed to running a number of polls or surveys on Socios.com each season/year. Some of those polls will be binding, which means that whatever the outcome, the club has to enforce the decision of the fans. Being realistic, clubs are not going to seek input in terms of what happens on the pitch or firing the coach, but nevertheless, these polls represent a very powerful voice for fans and a very powerful tool for clubs to gauge fan sentiment.
- Marketplace – we are one of only a handful of blockchain projects (besides crypto exchanges and wallets) to actually have a business model to generate revenue above and beyond the ICO. Our Marketplace feature, where fans can buy/sell their Fan Token against $CHZ, will be released in Q1. It works very much like eBay, in that we take charge a micro fee for every Fan Token sold, which gives us a sustainable revenue over and above the FTOs. For the first few months, we will only allow people to buy $CHZ (or deposit $CHZ) to purchase Fan Tokens, and will not allow $CHZ to be sent outside of the Socios.com platform. This feature will be released once the token economics have been tested and the acquisition of fans/users will have proven scalability.
- Socios Trading: this is a more advanced version of the Marketplace, where our more experienced traders, can buy and sell Fan Tokens post FTO. It will sit outside of the app environment but it’s an important step in gamifying your experience.
- Leaderboard: we’ve worked out an algorithm to be able to rank every user according to how they interact with the app. For example, for every action, whether it’s voting, referring or connecting with friends, hunting for tokens, they will earn reward points. Therefore, the more a fan interacts, the greater their score, and each fan is given a ranking, and receives kudos for their position in the leaderboard in the form of extra rewards and recognition. In this sense, rewards (such as VIP experiences) are earned. When a fan enters a competition to win a ticket on other platforms, they have to hope that their name is picked. With Socios.com, luck has nothing to do with it. It’s loyalty that is rewarded.
- Chat: where Token Holders can chat to one another in ‘club groups’.
- Social Connection: you will able to connect to your friends from other social networks, which means you will be able to also see their activity in the Newsfeed.
- Fan Shop: here you will be able to use your $CHZ to buy exclusive merchandise and other digital goods.
- Socios Cup: we can’t say too much about this at the moment, but we are working on the idea of having fan-controlled exhibition matches with big name clubs/teams, where fans get to choose everything from the starting eleven to the substitutions.
- Fan Chains: where fans are rewarded for watching the match with friends who are also Fan Token holders, wherever they are in the world.
- More Teams & Sports: we are looking at cricket, baseball, and of course, more football and esports teams. We are in talks with massive esports teams at the moment, including teams who compete in League of Legends, CSGO, PUBG, Fortnite etc. We have a pipeline of sports team that we will add over the next 12 months, and are making moves in very specific sports, to add in Q2.
- More Games & Other Features: in the future, we want third parties to develop games for Socios.com, and / or features for Chiliz. At the moment, we use Ethereum and Binance Chain, but in the future, we will look for other protocols / layers.
Listing & Payments Strategy
We don’t want, and nor do we need to be listed on 50 different cryptocurrency exchanges. The most important thing for us right now is our product, and in order to make it successful, we want to partner and work with the biggest trading partners in the world. We will add another two fiat to $CHZ exchanges in November, and our goal is also to onboard Turkish & Korean exchanges.
As a mass consumer product, we have to ensure that when someone wants to buy Fan Tokens, we make it as easy as possible. Our app is for mainstream users, and that means we use mainstream payment methods. As a team, we have a strong background and extensive experience in payments, and we have connected with multiple big name payment providers including PaySafe/Skrill to make this possible.
- Socios.com already accepts fiat payments, in that you can buy $CHZ using your credit or debit card on the app itself. The conversion rate is based on data from CoinMarketCap, and at the point of purchase, we buy $CHZ on the open marketplace, mainly from Binance.com
- Retail vouchers: $CHZ has joined Bitnovo, the Spanish cryptocurrency payment platform. Bitnovo facilitates the instant purchase of 20+ cryptocurrencies through nearly 40,000 retail outlets across Europe, using cash, debit or credit cards. This means that Paris Saint-Germain fans can instantly and easily buy $CHZ from 3,000 tobacco shops in France, Juventus & AS Roma fans from 4,000 purchase points in Italy, and Atlético de Madrid fans from 30,000 shops in Spain, before using them to purchase Fan Tokens in the Socios.com app. Available in €25, €50, €100, €250 and €500 denominations, customers buy a printed voucher, which is valid for 3 months. The voucher features a unique code that can then be instantly redeemed online. Once Bitnovo has been fully-integrated with Socios.com, customers will, in the near future, be able to redeem the vouchers directly in the app itself. Club-branded prepaid gift cards will also soon be available in-app, online and in-store. Recipients would simply redeem the voucher code within the Socios.com app, immediately receive $CHZ, which they can then use to purchase Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Atlético de Madrid or any other Fan Token of their choice. We also hope to make these available in the retail outlets of our partner clubs.
- Fiat to $CHZ trading: major partners will be onboarded following the launch of the app, including some of the biggest fiat to crypto exchanges. We will announce these new trading partners in due course.
US & North America
The US is sensitive, and currently a difficult market to navigate due to regulatory uncertainty. Ultimately, we don’t want to enter a market that doesn’t want us. Moreover, the business model of American sport is very different to that of Europe, in that you don’t make deals directly with the clubs or teams, you need to approach the leagues. Once we have finished Phase 1 of our FTOs, we can be much more aggressive in our approach to the US. The appetite is there, and we’ve been approached by North American teams, but our business model is unique and first we need to educate. Let’s not forget that the majority of football fans are not in the US.
We have a team dedicated to business development and that includes partnerships with media, distribution, telecoms, as well as joint-ventures, but we’ll also be looking at how we can work with other big name brands. We had the idea, when talking to one of our partner clubs, to sell Fan Tokens to a club’s other partners. For example, if Nike want to engage more with Paris Saint-Germain fans all over the world, we can create a Nike x PSG Token Hunt, whereby we drop PSG Fan Tokens outside every single Nike retail outlet in the world. The brands have to buy $CHZ to buy the Fan Tokens obviously, but we have one club already who’s very keen to push this through, and we’re excited to see how it will work.
Token Economics & Token Velocity
This is a subject to which we will have to return as we need to actually hold the FTOs before we learn how to improve the token economics. Our aim is to have 100k registered users in the first 3 months, and after 12 months, we want to have 1 million users. This is a very ambitious and slightly crazy goal, but as I’ve said before, we are lucky to be working with some of the biggest brands in the world, with hundreds of millions of fans. We are also looking at every mechanism that can bring velocity, and will continue to do after Q1, and the trading marketplace becomes available.
Following Binance requirements, we postponed the first vesting period to Q1 2020 for the team, advisors etc, and will confirm a new three year vesting schedule in January. In reality, Chiliz has a very low team allocation (just 5%), and it’s important to remember that the people involved in Chiliz at a high-level, have all been with the company for a number of years. Nobody is here for a hit and run, and you can see that based on the product, the marketing and the strategy.
Events & Asia
Asia is, and will continue to be, a very key market for us, which is why I will be spending at least 2 months in Asia from November to January, and basing myself in Seoul, Korea and then Singapore, to explore opportunities and strategic partnerships, focus on business development and try to scale the team and the resources.
I will be attending the following events:
- Binance Super Meet-Up, Singapore
- Blockshow, Singapore
Education: The past 20 months have been challenging. Educating both fans and clubs will always be the most difficult part of our job because we are doing something completely new. But, we are the only company in this space to have signed so many big name partners, and it’s getting easier and quicker to finalise the deals. First and foremost, we are down to earth, and this is a long-term venture for us and our partners.
Listing: For any company in this space, getting listed is always a challenge. It’s a slow, sometimes painful process, and we have found that not everyone does their due diligence. Due to the strength of our partners, we cannot risk a bad listing or a bad exchange, and we cannot endorse bad characters.
Frustration: You can only control what you can control and sometimes things don’t go to plan. Development takes a long time, as does signing partnerships and tweaking features to fit requirements. I have had to learn patience.
What We Don’t Do
We don’t do betting / gambling: i) it’s way too complicated from a regulatory perspective to combine crypto with betting and ii) we could end up competing with our club’s other official partners in the betting space.
We are not a content platform: we do not offer sports content or match highlights. On the contrary, we want to work with publishers and other media to provide other streams of content for them around the polls we publish and the fan experiences.
We are not a broadcaster: we will not acquire broadcast rights to stream live matches on the app
As with any new venture, there is no guarantee that it’s going to work. But know this, whatever is launched, we will improve and evolve. What we have now in terms of a concept and a business model is far superior than what we had a couple of years ago, but there is no doubt that some of what we do won’t work and will need to either be scrapped or improved. You fail, you learn and you move on, but you have to believe in the team that is working tirelessly to deliver a product that we hope you will love.
We want to open $CHZ to a broader ecosystem. Our role is to bring users to $CHZ, thanks to Socios.com, but then – as with any cryptocurrency, anybody can eventually embed $CHZ to leverage our userbase. And we will count on that in 2020 and 2021. We aim to have the biggest community of users that are exposed to the concept of crypto (after exchanges & wallets). We want more sports, entertainment and 3rd party platforms to use $CHZ as well as our community of users, that are brought to us thanks to all the sports teams, plus the gamification outside of our platform. We will have more blockchain integration in the second half of 2020 – we have ongoing discussions with some of the biggest protocols and layers, but our priority is utility and users over the dream of technology.