#Asia Fantasy sports app SportsHero guns for ASX listing

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Football players in the rain

Photo credit: nexusplexus / 123RF.

Trading simulation app TradeHero has been in the news lately, especially after November’s deal with European competitor Ayondo. Invariably, when TradeHero is mentioned, someone will ask about its sibling company SportsHero, a social sports prediction app.

Formerly known as Football Hero, the company has been laying low for a while, co-founder and CEO Dinesh Bhatia tells Tech in Asia. “Financial trading and sports are two very different spaces,” he says. As TradeHero was scaling up, SportsHero didn’t find the same groove with investors, although Dinesh was – and still is – very excited about it.

Dinesh is animated as he talks about SportsHero’s latest development: The startup is about to go public on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) this month. It plans to do so through a reverse takeover – a process through which the company that wants to list acquires a majority of shares in a company that’s already listed.

Dinesh Bhatia, co-founder and CEO of SportsHero

Dinesh Bhatia, co-founder and CEO of SportsHero. Photo credit: SportsHero.

Reverse takeover

In this case, the listed company is mining enterprise Nevada Iron Limited (NVI), which poured US$2.4 million into SportsHero back in May. With Australia’s mining economy in decline, there are several listed companies around that have seen better days and can serve as shells for businesses that want to go public themselves. “But now, investors are looking to mine digital gold,” says Dinesh.

For the listing, 60 million shares of common stock will be issued at US$0.04 per share. The goal is to raise US$2.2 million. NVI’s shareholders have approved the process.

Dinesh is excited at the prospect because he feels SportsHero is a good match for the ASX. “[Australia] is the perfect country for combining sports and technology,” he says. He will be at the helm of the company as CEO.

ASX has been a welcoming destination for Singapore-based startups for a while. Companies like digital media outfit Migme and, more recently, cloud backup provider Dropsuite have chosen to go down the reverse takeover route toward listing in Australia.

SportsHero mobile app

The SportsHero mobile app.

For the love of the game

SportsHero lets users compete and interact through a mobile app to predict the outcomes of sports games, which allows them to progress within the community. Users can spend in-app “tokens” to take part in competitions. Particularly savvy players, as in TradeHero, can monetize their expertise by providing insights to other players.

At the moment, SportsHero features football (of the soccer variety) and plans to add cricket, basketball, and baseball in 2017. The app has 80,000 registered users, but Dinesh doesn’t reveal how many of them are active. He claims that user retention and stickiness on the app is high, although he doesn’t provide specifics.

There’s an instant barometer every step of the way.

Dinesh feels taking SportsHero public at this stage in its lifetime (he says it’s “a series A company”) might be unorthodox, but it’s the right thing to do. “Why constrain ourselves to the same models all the time?” he asks. “With this, there’s an instant barometer every step of the way. You’re running a [business-to-consumer] company, so you better be valuable to your users. If users see value, it will be reflected in the share price.”

With the funds raised from the listing, SportsHero will focus on scaling and adding new features. Just like TradeHero is exploring real trading, Dinesh has ideas for SportsHero’s future, although he doesn’t share specifics.

“I’ve got one or two very exciting ideas,” he says, eyes glinting. “Fantasy sports disrupted betting in America – I’ve got version 2 of that in my head. It’s not going to be real betting – it’s an evolution of where the app is right now.”

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