As with any disruptive technology, there are phases of very high (sometimes unreasonable) expectations and where many stakeholders seem to try and capitalize on the momentum it gains from a financial perspective. At some point though, the bubble bursts, and the market crashes. This happened in the early days of the Internet, with social media and now the pattern seems to repeat itself with web 3.0
As of July 2022, we are going through one of those “bear market” phases, which has many critics arguing that everything related to web3 was and is a “trend” so it seems like a perfect time to identify where the real opportunity is. Moreover, it is during these times when “the businesses of tomorrow” emerge.
eShot Labs aims to be one of those businesses as they believe that NFT technology enables football clubs and sports properties around the world to connect with their fans at a much deeper level. In a world of fragmented attention, especially among the younger consumers, and where reaching them is something that must be done almost instantly, eShot Labs offers sports brands the opportunity to create NFTs in real time.
In an exclusive interview with WFS Digest, Fergus Leleu (Co-founder & CEO) & Fabien Arneodo (CMO), explain:
The “reasons to believe” behind NFTs
Why football industry leaders should not dismiss the value of NFTs as a key fan engagement solution.
The mentality they should adopt to test out this technology.
In this article though, we are trying something different. We have transcribed the answers to some of the most relevant questions in written form and, we have also included the full recorded interview. We do recommend that you listen to the entire conversation to get much more out of it!
World Football Summit: It seems like a perfect time to bring you on because, with all the recent developments that have been going on with Crypto, NFTs, etc. the market is going through a rough time. So, what are the “reasons to believe” behind NFTS & web3?
Fergus: You know, NFTs are just one of many products based on the blockchain. Since the creation of bitcoin more than 10 years ago, many initiatives have been tried based on blockchain technology: crypto, DeFi, NFTs, and others. Some have been successful, others have had their ups and downs
We consider NFTS as a tool more than a trend and by seeing NFTs this way, with a vision, you can really be very enthusiastic about the future.
Regarding the state of the markets, I’ve always seen the shift between bull markets and bear markets every two or three years. So now we are in a bear market. And as most solid companies, we consider that during a bear market, you must build. You don’t have to look for new clients. You must build solid products to be able to deliver when the market will be in better shape to be able to address your customers and leads with strong products. And this is exactly what we’re building.
Luckily, we were exactly in good timing, meaning we launched the company at the beginning of the year, and we’ve raised funds a few months ago right before the beginning of the bear market. So yes, we were in a good position but then we entered this bear market. It’s something normal. We have seen the same before crypto and for other traditional companies. Amazon, for example, saw the stock price drop from $120 to $9, even if the company went very well. So, there are two different things to see the market and the products. We’re really focused on the product, knowing that if you consider NFTs as a marketing tool, there is a bright future for this technology.
Fabien: I was just reflecting on the last sentence from Fergus because this is what we are building now. I think we are talking about bear markets because NF T’s are considered only in speculative ways. But maybe NFTs are more than marketing; maybe they are more than only a tool to speculate, maybe you can create something else so the bear market will not impact your NFTs in the future. So this is also what we are building.
WFS: Utility-based NFTs seem to be the “surest bet” behind the launch of an NFT. How does one understand what the right “utility” is?
Fabien: You don’t have a “right” utility. It depends on the use case. And what we are saying to our customers when they are asking us, “Which utility do we need to use?” we will just ask them: “What do you want to do?” Because it can be like a membership program, it can be an offer on a jersey, it can be access to a specific event, it can be a lot of stuff.
But at the end of the day, the reality is you need to engage your fan. So if your fans want to have a jersey signed by X or Y player, whatever, this is what you need to bring them. Imagine you walk into the stadium or you’re watching your game, and then, the first 50 people who scan a QR code can have access to a specific NFT. And these NFTs will bring them something dedicated, like a jersey from their favourite player, and only those 50 people can have it. How many people will just participate?
And NFTs at the end of the day, you can just give them for free. But you just organize it like a lottery. And this is gamification. This is something you bring.
So the utility on one side for the end user is having a jersey and on the other side for the creator (the sports business in this case), it will help them build a large community and engagement. So that’s the utility, you need to find what you really want, and in which way you want to go. That’s fine. But for us NFT needs to have a utility for sure.
The internet is “mobile first” and it is powerful thanks to “live content.” There was nothing like that built for web 3.
WFS: For those that do not know about you yet, can you please briefly describe what and why the world needs eShot Labs?
Fergus: There are two fundamental things that have made the internet so powerful.
The first is a “mobile first” approach; everyone has a smartphone. The second one is live content. Ever since the creation of Periscope seven years ago, everything is live (live shipping, live betting, live streaming, everything!).
What we noticed is there was nothing built for that on the web3. NFT collections are usually made available days or weeks after a match, and they can be bought on PC. So, it’s the exact opposite of the factors that determined the success of the internet, which is live on mobile first.
So, what is eShot Labs? We are not building another marketplace with dedicated features. We are building white label solutions and b2b tools to create and sell NFTs directly from live broadcasted content, allowing their customers to mint NFTs at the exact moment highlights happen and follow them to buy to purchase those NFTs with their mobile. So going from PC and a “cold content” approach to life on mobile first, is the next move for web3.
On top of the technology based on the blockchain, companies know they must think about the use case for mass market adoption. And for that, all the companies need tools, and we are building those tools that will allow them to reach the millions or billions of fans they have.
Fabien: I just want to add one point in terms of branding and marketing strategy. I think we help Clubs, Leagues, and Federations with the fact that they can bring the brand and the IP back in-house.
For us. the most important asset is the brand, it’s not something else. It’s not the fact that you are selling your IP to someone else that they can exploit it and do whatever you want. But it’s you, as a brand, as a club, as a player, etc. you need to use your own IP to create your own brand.
And this is what Fergus was saying. Basically, we create something very powerful to bring back in-house based on the power of the brand. And we do believe that it’s the future.
You can get a better sense of what they bring to the table in the following video:
WFS: eShot Labs works with several industries but can you share particular use cases from the world of sports or eSports?
Fabien: Sure! In the early 2000s there were a lot of football clubs creating their own TV platform. You know, it was PSG TV, Barça TV, Olympique Lyon, etc. And now they’re realizing that they are not earning money at all, and people around the world are just not watching their programming, and they don’t know how to create something new.
With our real-time NFT maker, imagine if Neymar is doing one on one vs Messi in a training session, this is something you can monetize in live content for a specific audience and by owning an NFT, you have access to that content. So basically, as a sports property, you bring content to your specific audience through a specific platform that you own. And they can have it thanks to their members because they are part of a club or a community.
The future relies on football clubs engaging with a specific fan base with specific/exclusive content that brings you some utility.
So this is how what we are working on. We basically transform what they have in terms of love content and through this technology, we can reach the millions of subscribers with something new, and bring new utilities of their own.
Another use case: Imagine you are in the stadium, and your team scores a goal, and you want to own that moment. You just have to scan the QR code five seconds after and you will have it. You will not only buy the action, you will buy the emotion of the goal.
The future relies on football clubs engaging with a specific fan base with specific/exclusive content that brings you some utility
Fergus: I have another example. When I was like 14, France won the FIFA World Cup for the first time. And in the morning after the game, I went to the library to buy the newspaper. And, in a way, I own a part of history thanks to this special newspaper, In a way, it could have been an NFT, meaning some things that I can keep, I can hold on to, crystallize all the emotion around the special moment, etc.
Today with NFTs, we can encapsulate those emotions. And in fact, until now, most NFTs are about ego and speculation. But with live NFTs, we’re bringing a new value: Emotion.
We know that in the sports industry, everything is rooted in emotion, it is all about what fans feel during life competitions. And this is what we’re bringing to the sports industry and to other people: The availability and the capacity to crystalize those very intense moments and to make them emotional.
The real question is more: What’s the global strategy of the club?
WFS: eShot Labs is “blockchain agnostic. Why is this important? Does this make it more complex for football clubs to start working with you?
Fabien: Before that, I believe you need to take a step back because it’s not a matter of whether we can just adapt or if the club can just adapt to a given blockchain. That’s not the question. The real question is: What’s the global strategy of the club? Because you select also a blockchain regarding different factors. For example, do you want a sustainable blockchain? Do you want a fast blockchain? Etc.
Because you can go on Solana to have a better sustainable blockchain or you can go on Ethereum because you want to go on OpenSea.
So for us, technically it is not a problem. What we are saying is to just be careful and make precocious choices on the blockchain. And please, if you don’t have someone in-house to do it just take some consultancy from an agency that specializes in that. That’s really important because we saw some failure due to the blockchain or there was no strategy.
Fergus: I want to add two things.
The first thing is that we are among the innovators. This is a very new technology, just a few people are aware of that. This is the same thing that happened when the mass market tried to get into the Internet. Some companies just wanted to open a blog or a website without any strategy and they failed, it will be the same here.
It’s not just about creating and selling NFTs, it has to be a part of a global strategy. And making sure that NFTs are an answer to a certain problem that football clubs have to solve. And seeing it in this way, not as a magical solution, but as a part of the overall solution, is critical.
We provide some advice to our clients, and sometimes we bring in other external agencies that can add value for them. But we really consider that all blockchain technology is very complex and we can help by providing easy solutions based on complex technologies. So we are enablers, we’re facilitators, for companies to, under this new space, allow them to move forward and increase their fan base revenue.
It’s one part of an answer to a bigger question and it has to be solved through a global strategy.
The perfect approach for such a young space is being very humble and understanding no one can succeed every time.
WFS Which sports organization is playing the NFT game right? Because many projects and athletes have high expectations that are not delivered (Liverpool, Michael Owen, John Terry, etc.)
Fergus: Paris Saint Germain is a great example because they entered the space early. They’re learning a lot, they go to a lot of events, and they are very open-minded about different kinds of solutions that can exist.
And they try things even if it’s not a massive success every time. But they always learn and they always progress. And this is the perfect approach for such a young space; being very humble and understanding no one can succeed every time.
Fabien: I really want to push on the fact that they have a real strategy. Sometimes they fail sometimes they succeed but they have a real strategy in terms of web3.
And that, I think, is why that’s working. Because even if one action is not good, because it does not bring in direct revenue, that might not have been the goal. Maybe it was more about engagement. And it depends on the goal you want to achieve.
They have carried out many initiatives and all those iterations, help create a strategy and create a strong process. And that’s really important.
This interview is featured in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.