🔥Upside Chat: Alberto Maiorana, Sorare (NFT Sports leader)
This week we had the honor to interview Alberto Maiorana, the head of licensing at Sorare, a leading NFT sport startup in soccer. Sorare is the world’s leader in the NFT football soccer space with hundreds of thousands of users.
They have more than 140 soccer clubs under contract such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG, Boca Juniors, and River Plate. They also work with five football leagues (Dutch League, the MLS Player Association, Asian leagues) as well as national teams or federations such as France, Germany, and Belgium. Sorare has raised $59.25M to date.
Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on Sorare, his role in the company, what is unique about Sorare, the benefits for teams and leagues to use his solution and then his plans for the next 12-24 months.
Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Alberto:
On Sorare: “Sorare is a French company with its main office located in Paris. It was founded in 2018 by two blockchain entrepreneurs, Nicolas Julia and Adrien Montfort. They had a great idea because they wanted to combine fantasy football game and NFTs and they were able to create Sorare in that way, wherein our users can buy, sell, trade NFTs or digital player cards and of course manage their teams within the game (...) We are the leader in the NFTs, football soccer space with hundreds of thousands of users. Today we have more than 140 soccer clubs under contract”.
On Sorare’s customers: “As I mentioned, we have about 140 clubs, which includes all the top soccer clubs in the world, like Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG, Boca Juniors, River Plate, from different countries and continents. Plus we also deal with five football leagues and their clubs like the Dutch League, the MLS Player Association, and a couple of Asian leagues. We also started to work with national teams of federations. For example, last month in June, with the start of the Euro tournament, we were able to onboard on Sorare, France, Germany, and Belgium. That was the first time for us and so far we have done very well and we are seeing good growth.
On Sorare’s business model: “it's based on licensing and partnerships and depending on the scope of the cooperation, the licensors get different benefits to be part of Sorare. We essentially pay royalties both on the primary market and on the secondary market.
On the benefits for clubs and federation to join Sorare: “The benefit for the clubs and federations is to be part of an ecosystem composed of all the top clubs in the world and with a very strong and loyal user community and where they can engage and communicate with fans all over the world, through our platform (..) So the benefits for clubs and federations is not just in terms of getting a revenue stream because we pay the royalties, but also because we offer a new media platform to engage and to have visibility and exposure towards our audience (..) They can also position themselves as digital leaders ( ..) it gives them the possibility to exploit their digital rights in a different way”.
On Sorare’s audience: “Our audience is international and diversified. Geographically, about 20% of our users are located in the US, another 20% are in Asia and the remaining 60% are in Europe and the rest of the world”.
On the growth in the NFT Sports market in the past six months: “The development and the growth of the NFT space, and particularly in the sports category has been very, very quick in the last six to 12 months. Until six months ago, probably nobody knew about NFTs and nowadays it's in the media and mainstream every day. So, the development has been great. We are lucky that Nicolas and Adrien founded Sorare three years ago, so they well anticipated the explosion in the NFT space, based on a very strong and consolidated business model (..)
On the confusion in the NFT Sports market and the need to educate: “Regarding the NFT market, like any emerging technology, there is competition. I think that nowadays there is maybe a little bit of confusion in the market because clubs or leagues might get a little bit of different information on the market and maybe they also have a lack of knowledge about the technology (..) So I think that we need to work a little bit more on the education aspect in order to educate people and give them more knowledge and awareness about what is the opportunity coming from the technology in the NFT space (..) Clubs and leagues should look a little bit more broader, not just the financial aspect but also what is the opportunity for them in the long term to engage with the fans”.
On Sorare’s focus on soccer: “Sorare has been 100% focused on soccer or football, and that is in our DNA. There is a lot to do because it's the biggest sport in the world (..) While I don't exclude that new and selective sports could be of interest to us in the future, we could also explore new opportunities (sports) and evaluate these opportunities if something is really interesting and worth investing and jumping in.
On Sorare’s plans for the next 12-24 months : “Our plans are more or less the following. So first of all, we want to accelerate the hiring process. So, we are hiring at the moment a lot of new positions and roles, especially engineers, developers, product leads and so on. The second goal is to continue to onboard the top clubs and also the top 20 soccer leagues in the world. That's very important. Beside that, of course, we want to continue to sign deals with national teams. We are also looking to develop a mobile application.
On Sorare’s geographical focus: “In terms of geography, the US and European markets are two of our biggest focuses in terms of growth and expansion. In the US we already work with the MLS Player Association (..) it's a very, very, very good cooperation so far. We started to work with them last year, but we also want to focus on some Asian markets, in particular, Japan and South Korea. That will be done a little bit later this year (..) But since the end of last year, beginning of this year, we have also been focused more and more on the South American market. We have about five, six Argentina clubs, including River Plate, Boca Juniors, and Racing. We also have three Mexican clubs and we also signed the first Brazilian club one or two months ago, which is Atlético Mineiro. That was a really successful partnership. We are going to announce more Brazilian clubs in the coming weeks, so stay tuned on that”.
On the biggest challenges to overcome in the NFT Sports market: “I am convinced that the biggest challenge is to educate people and make sure that they understand the differences between different business models and product offerings, for example, the difference between an NFT and a fan token. For many people it's a little bit more difficult to understand, especially if they are not involved very much in the innovation of technology and they are more on the business and commercial side of the organization”.
On a potential consolidation of the NFT Sports market in the long run: “Currently a lot of people are entering the market, offering different things and maybe over-promising in a way, but as in any category, any sector which involves technology and innovation, there will be a time when there is consolidation and only a few companies will survive or some companies will become very big and relevant in the industry”.
On Sorare’s competitive advantages: “ I think we are the only one, if I'm not mistaken, in the market at least in the NFT sports or football category, to offer the combination between NFT and fantasy football game. The utility for our NFT in the game is very unique in that respect. This is our first advantage. The second one is that we already have a very well oiled working product. So we don't need to develop anything from scratch. We already have our game, and our platform is working very well. The third thing is that we have created this ecosystem with all the top clubs and football organizations in the world. We have a quite consolidated and loyal community of users (..) Lastly, we are supported and backed by both big financial institutions and investors like Benchmark, but also by very high profile individual investors like Gerard Pique, Antoine Griezmann, Rio Ferdinand, and Oliver Bierhoff”.
If you want to reach out to Alberto, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.