Startup Spotlight: SWOL — Soccer Without Limits

 

SWOL — Soccer Without Limits

Concept: SWOL is a social soccer community built around a digital publishing platform that unites and engages fans. Already featuring 55+ writers from 15 countries, SWOL aims to be the world’s premier content provider and fantasy gaming destination for global fans.

Story: A life-long passion for soccer united Adam Davis, an agent based in Germany and later Brazil for ROGON, a top soccer agency, and Danny Karbassiyoon, a former player for Arsenal of the English Premier League ( and its first U.S. player to score) and later a scout for the London club. “We came together to start something bigger,” said Davis. With the addition of a chief technology officer, The team custom built the SWOL.co site, which is now attracting 1.4 million monthly visits, and is moving into gamification. Beyond being community, information and entertainment providers, SWOL wants to give back to the sport. This year the startup launched the Fight Against Racism Footvolley event to help shed light on the acute problem tarnishing the sport. The fundraising and awareness-raising event in Miami Beach in June, partnering with Univision Networks to televise nationally, included Didier Drogba, Jerome Boateng and many more top soccer stars. ‘We’re all in,” said Karbassiyoon, who relocated from Richmond, Va., in January to work on SWOL full-time.

Headquarters: Miami, one of the top U.S. markets for soccer fans. Team is based in Venture Hive as part of the accelerator’s first class.

Launched: July 2012

Management team: Adam Davis, CEO; Danny Karbassiyoon, CCO; David Der, CTO

No. of employees beyond management team: 3

Financing: Raised $100,000 in seed financing and now raising a $750,000 round.

Recent milestones reached: Passed 750,000 monthly unique users. Recently began producing Spanish content, with other languages to follow. Closed a partnership for a Featured Writer Program with Miami-based and Al-Jazeera owned beIN Sport.

Biggest startup challenge: Replicating the success SWOL has had growing its community and content in English into Spanish and other key “soccer” languages.

Next steps: Generate revenue through advertising, fantasy gaming, big data and premium content. “We just finished beta testing our own soccer fantasy game — SWOL Fantasy Challenge. Beta feedback was extremely positive and the next steps will be introducing this game to the community as an iOS app and in a Web version on swol.co,” said Davis. “In addition, we will be scaling growth with our SWOL Español contributor team and content creation, closing the next round of financing and uniquely involving more big name professional players into SWOL and the fantasy game.”

Investor’s view: “It comes down to the old investing adage, you bet on the jockey, not the horse,” said Dr. Kipp Lassetter, former CEO of Medicity, noting that some of the top players in the sport have partnered with SWOL. “The SWOL team continues to impress me with their aggressive pursuit of new opportunities. They are thinking big, and executing. This is driving remarkable growth. My experience starting a medical IT company has given me good insight into how SWOL can strategically scale their business while remaining aggressive and adaptable.”

Nancy Dahlberg

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