KNOW THE SCORE is a series of talks where Mateusz Lentowczyk – CEO and founder of TISA Group – invites interesting guests to talk about the latest trends, challenges and best practices at the intersection of business, sport and technology.
In the second issue, we caught up with Alexandre Dreyfus to discuss the partnership between TISA and Socios.com. The exchange of views on the sports clubs’ challenges and opportunities led us to some interesting conclusions on:
⇒ How can sports clubs benefit from the partnership between TISA and Socios.com?
⇒ Why do the products of these two companies complement each other so well?
⇒ What are the best ways to enhance Fan Experience and create new revenue streams?
Read this interview and grasp some of the business know-how!
Michał Wapiński: To begin with, could you tell us more about your personal histories? How did it happen that you both founded companies that are offering tech-based products for the sports industry?
Alexandre Dreyfus: In my history, I’ve founded many international companies. My adventure started with sports gambling, with a Poker ranking company called GPI [Global Poker Index]. We tried to make a competition out of this, and that’s how I started cooperating with the people from the sports industry. Three years ago, I founded Socios.com, which is the first fan engagement and fan monetisation platform for sports clubs.
Mateusz Lentowczyk: My entire professional career belongs to the Tech industry. For the last twelve  years, I’ve been working within the sports industry. I used to run a technology department at UEFA. This is where I discovered a lot about the strategic functioning of sports organisations. Additionally, I’ve been doing a lot of consultancy with football federations and clubs, which gave me a strong professional foundation. Two years ago I founded TISA AG, our motto “We Code Sports” pretty much summarises what we do.
Mateusz Lentowczyk: TISA is a company that predominantly supports football, but our solutions are also applicable to other sports disciplines. We help clubs and federations with the broad topic that is “digital transformation” specialising in two big areas: content delivery and fan engagement. We provide sports organisations with the set of our own proprietary products.
We also offer professional services, such as software development or marketing. Ninety per cent [90%] of our revenues are coming from the sports industry – we have experts with extensive knowledge on how to help sports organisations strategically. That’s why we also deliver services such as Strategic Advisory or Tech&Organisation Audit.
The desire for us is to be one of the best and most recognisable sport- and technology-oriented companies (at least!) in Europe.
Alexandre Dreyfus: The idea is very simple. 99.9% of the fans of the sports teams aren’t in the stadium even though they’re supporting their teams. It has nothing to do with COVID-19; this reasoning also applied to the pre-pandemic era.
The question that sports clubs often ask themselves is: “What can we build and sell so that it’s valuable for the fans and innovative?” Hence, we came up with the crazy idea that through Fan Tokens – digital assets that give them recognition and voice – they’ll be happy to “become more than fans”.
We’ve redefined the definition of a supporter. Is it a person in the stadium? Is it someone that follows the club on Twitter? Is it someone that bets on the clubs and supports them only for the financial reasons? Is it someone with a scarf and jersey living on another continent?
We believe that they’re all fans, and we want to help sports clubs to recognise these supporters through our technology.
Michał Wapiński: We got the idea of what TISA and Socios.com are offering and what your plans for development are. Could you discuss in general terms why the collaboration between these two companies make sense and what benefits it will bring to your customers?
Alexandre Dreyfus: I think we’re very much complementary because we aren’t competitors. There’s no territory where we need to fight with each other. There’s just one intersection – we’re talking to the same clubs.
Thus, the idea is the following: if we both have technological products which are complementary and give sports clubs the possibility to use digital methods to develop, we should connect it to provide a better roadmap for our customers!
Mateusz Lentowczyk: I’d like to add one point to what Alexandre just said.
We, as TISA, have the same goal as Socios.com. We also want to help sports clubs in approaching this 99.9% of the fans that are outside of the stadium. What we’re doing is providing tools that are designed for, building and monetising the sport community either through content production and delivery or fan loyalisation mechanisms (Fan Wallet).
That’s where we’re very complementary with Socios.com. This partnership will allow us to work with our community on implementing additional opportunities for them. Fan Tokens give another possibility for supporters to experience the belonging to a certain community in an entirely new form.
Mateusz Lentowczyk: Starting from the very beginning, we offer a digital engagement platform. The first two tools in our hands – UMPIRE and BRISK – are built to push content around all of the channels. That refers to websites, mobile applications, OTT [video-streaming] and social media.
With that digital engagement platform, sports clubs do what we call “content explosion”. They increase their digital reach, which lets more people understand the values and information that they want to share. Our ultimate goal with all these actions is to convert supporters from the individuals who are only consuming the content to the ones becoming engaged in its creation – “be more than fans”.
This is where our third product comes in place. It’s called WICKET, and it’s an SSO [Single Sign-On] platform that allows sports clubs to build a Fan Wallet. It works in the way that once fans register to the club’s environment, it offers them the key to all the systems and applications within the club. Thus, it means one can buy a ticket, purchase a product from the store, buy hospitality and soon also connect with Fan Tokens with only one set of credentials.
Conceptually, from the fans’ perspective, one wallet means that you can have all the data and information regarding your favourite sports club in one place, which is very convenient and strengthens the demand.
We have plenty of ideas on how sports clubs could benefit from TISA and Socios.com collaboration. We, as TISA, also offer a Match Centre that lets you push information live during your Match Day. Nonetheless, it can also be used in many other ways. I can imagine people following the value of their Fan Tokens with the help of this tool. It would be almost like following your stocks. Therefore, there are plenty of ways where TISA and Socios.com can cooperate to better the life of sports brands.
Alexandre Dreyfus: TISA has many interesting proposals from our perspective and we believe that our participation will be mutually beneficial.
From our side in particular, once a supporter will be able to log in to the Socios.com app through the football club website (or vice versa) thanks to the SSO-solution, we’ll be able to link the products with services. That’s the point when it becomes extremely interesting and beneficial for our customers and us.
Michał Wapiński: All the topics you’ve covered when discussing the complementarity of TISA and Socios.com products refer to the issue of enhancing Fan Experience. How do you think the nature of experiencing football has been evolving recently? What are the best ways nowadays to emotionally engage supporters in everyday life of the club?
Alexandre Dreyfus: Each club is unique and should apply different patterns. Nonetheless, what we learnt from our cases is that sports clubs really need to think about those people outside of the stadium.
At some point, it becomes barely possible to bring more to the people who are in the stadium. And even if you manage to enhance in-stadium Match Day experience, it appears that you satisfy the needs of just a small percentage of all your fans. Thus, it seems that it makes the most sense to invest in those supporters that previously remained unoccupied.
We should also remember that sport means entertainment. If you want to enhance your Fan Experience, you should think of the ways to make your community entertained. Trust me, there are many different ways to achieve this. But I can express my thoughts only from the Socios.com point of view. We emphasise that it’s essential to make the fans feel that they’re recognised by their favourite club and rewarded if they contribute.
Mateusz Lentowczyk: I agree with Alexandre as I believe that it’s all about non-match experience. In my view, a match being on side will go more in the direction of becoming a “premium experience” rather than just a kind of a regular go-out.
Generally speaking, sports organisations have no choice but to transform themselves digitally and open up towards new sources of revenue generated either by pay-to-content or products such as Fan Tokens.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the question “what is a sports club”. Socios.com has redefined the concept of a fan. As TISA, we redefine the idea of a sports club. At the beginning of football history, it was eleven players playing. Nowadays, sports clubs have their teams in various disciplines. They care not only about the competition but also about clothing, lifestyle, Esports, charity, academy and more. Hence, they became very powerful in terms of creating and influencing their society. Digital solutions seem to be the most effective approach to this evolution. COVID-19 will only make it stronger.
Michał Wapiński: Having that in mind, do you think that global pandemic – COVID-19 – will accelerate the process of implementing Fan Tokens and digital transformation solutions in sports organisations?
Mateusz Lentowczyk: The revenues generated from Match Days dropped by more than 80% (sometimes are even dead) because of COVID-19. The way people consume sports had been already changing before the pandemic, and now it accelerated. We noticed the need for digital solutions in the sports industry many years ago at UEFA. Currently, the demand for them will be becoming higher due to the lockdowns, which may result in the acceleration of digital solutions implementation.
Alexandre Dreyfus: Sadly, for all of us, COVID-19 came and didn’t ask us for permission to enter. However, we should try to treat it as an opportunity rather than a threat. It forces clubs to think differently. Sports brands used to have profitable businesses, which made them a bit arrogant towards innovation as they didn’t need to change anything to remain happy and full.
Suddenly, it has vanished – no longer may supporters come to their stadiums. Sports brands’ business has become challenging. It’s always a huge crisis when big innovations come out. It doesn’t happen when people are satisfied with the current situation. The revolution appears when people are “hungry”.
Today, clubs are “hungry” for new opportunities, and it makes them look more intensively at the companies from sports-, tech-industry like Socios.com and TISA.
Michał Wapiński: We live in very unusual times. On the one hand, we have new generations which are digital natives and have entirely new needs when it comes to entertainment. On the other hand, there’s a pandemic which made it difficult for sports clubs to maximise the revenues from Match Days in the way it worked before. It seems that digital products might be a good solution for these two challenges; thus, also for monetisation issues. What opportunities do your products give when it comes to the creation of new revenue streams?
Mateusz Lentowczyk: The tools that we have, offer you many possibilities to monetise either your stocks or your content. By creating more appealing communication strategies that reach larger groups of people, you strengthen advertising and sponsorship opportunities. By collecting all data in one place (Fan ID), you may personalise your actions by segmenting fans in the groups.
The possibilities that technology gives you are endless. It’s all about how you approach it!
Alexandre Dreyfus: When it comes to monetisation, we should remember about a few things. First of all, when you sell a jersey, you make around 50-60% margin on it. When you sell a sandwich on a Match Day, it’ll give you 15-20% maximum. When you sell a digital asset, it’s a 100% margin.
Whatever you sell that is digital, it’s more profitable and scalable. I like to say that sport is probably one of the rare industries that haven’t been disrupted by technology in the last twenty years. Travelling, insurance, banking, dating, E-commerce – all of these industries have already been influenced except for sports.
I do believe that now we’re at the beginning of the big change. In my opinion, the relationships between fans and clubs will evolve in the direction of digital products.
Michał Wapiński: Great, I guess we’ve covered much more than only the issues regarding the partnership between TISA and Socios.com. Thanks, it’s been a good talk.
Alexandre Dreyfus: Pleasure, thanks for the discussion.
Mateusz Lentowczyk: Thank you!