Following a successful 2015 for the eSports industry, 2016 looks set to be even bigger with the likes of EA, Activision Blizzard and ESPN showing their intent to capitalise on this momentum by establishing their own divisions and, in the case of Activision, acquiring a major organisation.
Based in Seattle, Matcherino is a platform dedicated to bringing the fans closer to the action they want to see, and putting the power in their hands. We spoke to CEO Grant Farwell about crowdfunding, Russell Okung and his plans for the company.
SBC: Grant, thanks for talking to us. Could you begin by introducing Matcherino, and explain the unique position it currently holds in eSports?
Grant: Matcherino is a platform we created and are actively developing to help eSports fans and Streamers interact – primarily by crowdfunding events.
We started with a way to help the eSports community organize their favorite players to battle against each other. These ‘Show Matches’ are attracting large audiences and prize pools and are a great way for streamers to engage their viewers.
SBC: Should the idea behind the platform prove popular are there any safeguards in place to stop competitors offering near identical services? How do you plan to stay ahead of the pack?
Grant: As eSports grows, services that are trying to innovate are always going to get copied — companies that are going to survive long term are the ones continually innovating and building allegiance with their users. In terms of barriers, we’re focused on making sure the experience is easier than anything else that exists or could exist.
SBC: Why is it that crowdfunding is such a major source of funding for prize pools, events and more in eSports as opposed to other sports?
Grant: I think traditional sports would benefit from crowdfunding as well. From a certain perspective, traditional sports are crowdfunded, the money just flows through many intermediaries. Fans and players of eSports are all on the Internet, so it has been and will continue to be incredibly easy to bring people together, something which the Internet has historically been great at.
SBC: Following a successful seed round in which $1.25m (£860,565) was raised what will these funds be invested?
Grant: We’re spending most of our seed round capital on growing the team.
We’re going to be spending some on marketing throughout the year as we release more features. As we release new features we’re going to be finding great streamers to sponsor who will help promote Matcherino but more importantly make more money on their stream by using our platform.
SBC: One notable investor was NFL star Russell Okung. As the latest high profile figure to invest in the industry what is it that’s attracting these names? Moreover, what will Okung bring to the Matcherino table?
Grant: Matcherino is all about connecting fans with their favorite players, which Russell has amazing first hand experience with.
We’re already planning a crowdfunded showmatch with Russell and some of the other Seahawks for charity in the coming month.
SBC: Finally what should Matcherino and the wider eSports industry’s new year’s resolutions be heading into 2016?
Grant: Well for Matcherino, at the end of the year we had to deal with closing our round as well as putting on a big presentation for our Techstar’s Demo Day. We’re excited to get back to development and start implementing our product roadmap!
The eSports industry is doing incredibly well, so it’s hard to critique — but I’d recommend doing what we do, and build services and platforms that help make people’s lives easier.
Grant Farwell, CEO