Two young blokes from Melbourne met whilst studying at Australian National University (ANU) together in Canberra. They were both computer science and business graduates with a passion for sports, which seems fitting as to why they would go on to creating a mobile sports gaming company.
Charles Noble and Bao-Minh Tran-Vo have tapped into one of the fastest growing markets in the online world, all because of their love of sports – in particular ball games. Their first creation, BigFooty Coach was the first of its kind to be made available on Facebook in 2013 and started gaining traction really fast.
Big Footy allows users to pick a team of real life players and coaches – from both the past and present – to play simulated matches against other users on Facebook. Every team that wins is awarded prize money and the goal is to build the best team possible. The gameplay is all year round because it is not dependent on live week-to-week results.
This was one of many games they launched from their company c8apps, which recently raised $400,000 from a group of high profile investors including Adrian Stone, co-founder of AngelCube, Domenic Carosa, Founder of Future Capital, Michael Fetter, Partner of Tisher Liner FC Law, and serial tech investor, Adam Krongold.
The original version of the BigFooty Coach game was only available on Facebook, but Noble and Tran-Vo soon discovered that a lot of their users were wanting to play the game on mobile. In fact, many users were going through the tedious long set up of making sure they could access the game via the mobile app version of Facebook. This is when things started to change, and the real traction began to happen.
The pair were accepted into the AngelCube program. C8apps already had the advantage when accepted that they were getting really great traction and had revenue coming through the door. Throughout the program, the main focus was around learning how to market their product correctly.The application was free but users could buy virtual products within the game such as football boots. This grew pretty fast, generating as much at AUD$18,000 a month at that stage of the game.
When I first wrote about c8apps, they were just launching the Facebook app and I praised them for a strategic partnership they had secured with AFL forum BigFooty.com:
A partnership with the hugely popular AFL forum BigFooty.com has spurred on the game’s success and the pair are now seeking investment to help make an iPhone and Android mobile version of the game.
Keep an eye on these two blokes, they are pretty switched on, and I think we are only just seeing the tip of the iceberg with what they want to do.
Since then they have gone on to secure another massive strategic partnership with Bauer Media, one of Australia’s largest publishers, to further engage their sports readers with an innovative Rugby League fantasy sports game. This has seen them reach thousands of additional eyeballs and grow their audience of sports loving tech savvy users.
Globally, the fantasy football market could be worth around USD$70 billion by 2016, if the figures being claimed by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association are correct. Tran-Vo says that they have seen an increase in in-app purchases with some users in the last year spending as much as AUD$2,500 on virtual products within the games.
Noble and Tran-Vo are now looking at the global market and have begun to create new experiences that will inevitably attract a more diversified crowd outside of the AFL market. League and Soccer are the newest additions to the stable and there is plenty more in the pipeline over the coming years.
Just to give you a glimpse at the potential c8apps has, let’s look at the American market for fantasy gaming. According to Forbes.com, around 32 million people in the US regularly play fantasy sports games, and on average spend about USD$467 each on in-game purchasing. That is before you even take into account revenues via advertising, sponsorship and strategic partners that these types of companies can create. If their traction remains the same, it is very likely that c8apps could become a major media player in the sporting sector.
The recent investment has already helped c8apps launch their new global soccer game Frantic FC, which has become a Top 10 ranking mobile sports game in the UK.