Edition 20 of the SportsBiz Spotlight sees our attention turn to FanHub, the app that is rewarding football fans for their loyalty! We sat down with Harley Thorne, COO of FanHub to learn more about the business.
Tell us about the business? What does FanHub do?
Founded in 2018, FanHub is an app that gamifies the behaviours associated with following a club: consuming content, travelling to matches and having an opinion on team selection.
FanHub isn’t just about a digital product however, it’s a community of fans (growing by 10% a week) that is on a mission is to recognise and reward fans for their contribution to the beautiful game.
What’s the main purpose of the organisation?
We’ve been working on this concept for several years and actually the empty stadiums that resulted from COVID demonstrated our thesis far better than we could ever pitch it ourselves.
Live sport without fans is really not that exciting to watch and yet those fans that create so much value in the product are the one stakeholder that none of the others seem to care about. Instead fans view themselves as taken for granted – they are the cash-cow that keeps on giving.
We believe that fans have no more to give and actually, instead they should be seeing economic benefit from their contribution. Our purpose is to make that vision a reality.
If failure wasn’t a possibility, what would be your biggest ambition?
We actually embrace failure and much of what we’ve tried hasn’t worked – but it is that willingness to take risks by testing and failing that’s enabled us to find a formula that is now working beyond our expectations.
Our ambition is to change the game by tokenising fan behaviour, meaning that fans can earn an economic benefit for following their team and brands have a frictionless route to reach their target customer.
We won’t give up until we’ve delivered that reality.
What’s your USP?
We believe that FanHub is the one actor in the ecosystem of sport that sees fans as the jewel in the crown. We’re certainly the only ones that can back up that view with an end goal that will see FanHub as the one brand that provides economic value to fans rather than seeking to monetise them.
Why did you decide to put fans at the heart of what you’re doing?
First and foremost we’re fans ourselves so we feel the pain of the people that we built FanHub for. That’s important, to really understand the sub-cultures and nuances of your target market. But there is also a compelling commercial thesis to this approach.
In a digital paradigm, customer-centric thinking always wins in the long-run: Amazon, Netflix, AirBnB etc have all dislodged incumbents from “an unassailable market share” in their respective verticals because they gave the customer what they wanted.
As we shift towards a digital paradigm in sport, those organisations that do not put fans at the heart of their operation (in action rather than rhetoric) will likely become irrelevant.
How does the app work?
The first principle of a potential high growth app is that it has to be a product that people want to use. Standard attrition rates for an app are 92% within 30 days and less than 8% of apps ever get more than 10,000 downloads so the first hurdle to clear was to create a product that is fun and addictive.
Part of the gamification is that we’ve created an algorithm that converts data from four variables as proxies for a fan’s “performance” into a FanRating. By converting “fan performance” into a linear format, we can organise this information into meaningful outputs such as individual or club leaderboards, shareable digital assets or rewards from partners.
We’re going to be using the data that we harvest for each user’s benefit rather than ourselves, however we believe that we have the best fan data in the industry and the best data enables the best market segmentation.
Where does a Fan Token fit into the FanHub app?
The Fan Token that we’re introducing is a very different model to those that the market has already seen launched by clubs. The value proposition of those tokens is that fans can purchase a club’s token in exchange for some perks and voting rights on minor club decisions.
We have a different view of how a Fan Token should work which is that rather than fans buying tokens, we will distribute tokens to fans as they attend matches. Put simply, FanHub will “pay” fans for following their club with fungible tokens.
How many people work at FanHub and what capacity? I.e. job roles etc.
The senior leadership team includes co-founders Gareth Lippiatt as CEO and Harley Thorne, who is COO. In addition to an experienced advisory board, we currently have small team of part-time staff to keep the operation running day to day and to manage our growing team of nearly 100 voluntary brand ambassadors, who are spread across fanbases in the UK.
Who do you partner with?
We partner with other brands that share our value in terms of seeking to authentically reward fans for their loyalty.
Who would be your dream client?
At this stage, we’re most interested in partnerships that provide value back to fans, however as this project evolves, our clients will be brands that wish to reach fans directly and more cost effectively than is possible through any other media.
How can people connect with FanHub? What’s your website and socials?
We’d love to welcome you into our community!
Thanks to Harley and FanHub for providing so much great insight in to what they’re building for football fans. If you would like to feature your sports based business or know of an organisation you would like to see feature on SportsBiz Spotlight, get in touch.