“We place the event in the center, and build our services around it”
Published on Geektime
Fanzone, the social platform that brings together fans before a sports or music event, has just raised $5 million in Series A funding, led by Olive Tree Capital Ventures. Other investors in the current round, including Ron Zuckerman and Amir Gal-Or, took part in FanZone’s seed round of $1.2 million just one year ago.
FanZone’s co-founder and CEO, Ori Shilo, said in a statement, “We’re a young company with a clear target and great horizons. We’re aiming high – but fully committed to meeting our goals, and are lucky enough to enjoy every moment along the way.”
Indeed, FanZone has aimed high, pitched well, and has now hit the ground running. Launched in 2014 as a transportation solution app for sports events, the company started by working with sports clubs and organizations before cooperating with official transport solutions like Israel Railway, local municipalities, and the Israeli Police to manage high attendance at major tournaments.
Pivoting into entertainment
In June, FanZone entered a wider playing field of entertainment. Its new app, “FanZone Events,” offers a range of services to music fans. Already, FanZone has been used in Israel for the Backstreet Boys, One Republic, Art Garfunkel, and Robbie Williams shows. Shilo claims that 7,000 of the 30,000 attendees at the Robbie Williams used FanZone Events.
Beyond its original transportation focus to connect fans and reduce travel costs, FanZone lets fans challenge each other to match day quizzes and offers special benefits, such as a local sale on beer.
Founders Ori Shilo and Tomer Kazaz bring sports and technological expertise to the enterprise: Shilo was the former CEO of the Israeli Football Association, and Kazaz served as a Major in the 8200 Israeli Defense Force intelligence unit and was a goalkeeper for Maccabi Netanya’s youth team.
As a pair that is used to the spirit of competition, Shilo and Kazaz face a new type of competition against similar apps that connect commuters and fans.
Shilo told Geektime, “It’s a different platform than Moovit or Waze or other specific verticals that are focused on one service. Our offering is the event in the center, and we build the services around it.”
Shilo noted that the main differentiator for FanZone, however, is due to the “trust and loyalty” of the fanbase itself. It uses the momentum of the fan community already in place to physically bring these similar people together on game day. People can sing the Backstreet Boys lyrics together on the way to the show, for example.
He claimed, “The common interest that people have makes the sharing experience more fun, more trustable, and more convenient.”
Right now, FanZone operates mainly in Israel, the UK, Germany, and Greece. With the recent funding, the startup hopes to expand its target markets – namely, the U.S., Germany, France, and likely Spain. Former CEO of the Football Association, Alex Horne, has joined FanZone to help with upcoming collaborations. In addition, FanZone wants to double its employee size, currently 20 people.