Just Mobile's Wong makes a pivot to fantasy sports
By Karamjit Singh November 29, 2013
- Guided by belief the Asian market will follow US
- Seeking RM3mil to accelerate market presence
Article ammended to correct some errors
MELVIN Wong’s entrepreneurial journey is so typical of technical founders: Build the business gradually and then, either get comfortable with a business they control that generates enough cash flow, or pursue an opportunity they see for a breakout from the life as a behind-the-scenes tech enabler for others.
Wong has decided to break from his comfort zone and pursue the big win. He is seeking RM3 million (nearly US$1 million) in funding to take him to the next level where he can build his dream of creating a digital sports media company.
He is currently funding it through his mobile app company Just Mobile Sdn Bhd, which he launched from his bedroom in 2005 with RM13,000, having left as chief technology officer of an ealrier venture that ultimately faltered.
Calling it his “short-term, long-term plan,” Just Mobile has a strong base of customers in the market and “gets inquiries without us having to go sell our services,” he says. It helps fund the current startup, FanXT.com, which is generating some monthly revenue.
He actually made the pivot in October last year and has already made some progress in signing exclusive three-year contracts with five national sports leagues across Asia and even in Europe – all this just in the past six months.
He has signed up leagues in Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Finland and most recently the Philippines. None are revenue-generating yet, with FanXT paying for all digital media platforms it builds in exchange for revenue share. He is working on breaking into Singapore, Indonesia, Korea and Japan concurrently.
Wong (pic) sees this as a long-term play and wants to grab as many contracts as he can, confident that they will eventually pay off. The target for this year was to sign 10 contracts, which he is certain to fall short of.
“Basically, as a digital sports media company, we will offer anything digital to clients, and that includes building Smart TVs apps, Facebook apps, mobile apps and websites. The real money maker though is when we build them Fantasy Games,” he says.
With the football league there still nascent, the relationship begins with a website for the Taiwan Intercity Football League and a mobile app to help fans be more engaged with their teams.
“We will build them a fantasy game when they have enough fans engaged through the platforms we have built for them,” explains Wong. The hope then is that some fans will migrate from the free version to the pay-to-play version.
FanXT is already the official Fantasy Football provider for the Veikkausliiga, Finland's top football league; Hong Kong’s First Division football league and India’s I-League top division football. Besides football, it has developed apps for Formula 1 racing and Motor GP.
The idea of the exclusivity is to ensure the relationship has time to blossom, and that Wong, through his startup FanXT, can gain enough traction with the fans of that league to go on and offer premium services that are paid for and able to attract sponsors.
There is a similarity with gaming, with Wong taking on in-app purchases and buying skills and other virtual goods for the virtual teams fans assemble.
Fantasy sports has blossomed mainly because of the Internet, which allows fans to easily manage the stats of the players on their teams. Basically how the games work is that participants act as owners to build a team that competes against other fantasy owners, based on the statistics generated by real individual players or teams of a professional sport.
Fantasy owners are in charge of all aspects of their team. They can cut players, add players, bench players, or even make trades with other owners in the league. This is part of the strategy of running a successful fantasy team. Owners need to know when to sell high or trade for a player who might be underperforming but seems ready for a breakout.
With all these elements in play, such games are defined as ‘skills games’ in the United States and thus betting is allowed, which has led to their increased popularity too. It is too early to tell how the individual countries in Asia deal with this as the game/ hobby is still birthing.
Next page: Malaysia, a global leader in fantasy football