It’s every fans dream to run a franchise. There isn’t a single moment where some fans don’t think they can do better than the leadership that was put in place. Whether that is at the bar or on social media, fans like to think they could make the important decisions to help their squad to victory. Now that is about to be possible with Project FANchise. Led by CEO Sohrob Farudi, Grant Cohen — Digital — and four other founders, an Indoor Football League (IFL) team based in Salt Lake City, will be entirely fan run.
The development of an app and the integration needed to make this all run smoothly is not an inexpensive task. The team and stadium are covered, but developing an app that will let tens of thousands of fans run a football team isn’t easy, and leadership wants to include features like real-time play calling, helmet cameras, drone cams, 360 cameras, and VR. To cover that cost the team launched an Indiegogo campaign today. It is just another way to engage with fans and make them feel more a part of the team.
The most obvious benefit of a fan-run team is the level of engagement Project FANchise provides. An app to call plays and provide a team’s strategy will keep fans constantly in front of the teams brands and partners. It also creates an interesting way to monetize around the app.
Our plan is to incorporate branded sponsorships into the app so team sponsors have additional opportunities to be visible and engage with fans. The app will allow us to sell more tickets, merchandise and opens us up to people that aren’t in our market but our overall format affords for a lot of opportunities outside of the app as well. — Project FANchise team —
That means if the team can build enough of a following, it provides a greater ROI to its partners. Since the app is available for anyone, it also creates a larger fan base — outside of the typical regional footprint — as a mechanism of team/sponsor interaction.
The app will also keep fans engaged through its fanIQ system. Essentially it is a gamification or a fantasy football evolution into real life. As Project FANchise sees it, “Fans will want to accumulate as many points as they can to turn them into unique experiences like leading the team out of the tunnel or warming the quarterback before a game. There will always be a reason to engage with the app year-round.” There is no way to buy yourself to the top as a fan so engagement will be key for fans looking for unique experiences.
The app can also generate a return for the founders through licensing fees. “The platform that can be licensed to other teams, so whether we go out and buy another team or someone wants to license the system, it can be a model for any professional team to use.” And that is where more established leagues may be interested. A NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB owner won’t be interested in giving over full control, but if Project FANchise can show high engagement through fan suggested events, new apparel or sponsor give-aways, the major leagues could license the product to increase its fan engagement in different and creative ways. Pieces of the app could be used as a business intelligence tool.
In any case, the first fan-run team will be an exciting and interesting experiment. The Project FANchise team has already created strong engagement and already has 25,000 registrations from all 50 states and various countries.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.