At this year’s Western Balkans Digital Summit, CouchCoach made an appearance with its fan-enabling app that lets basketball viewers participate in live games. Silicon Luxembourg sat down Nenad Nikolin to hear about the new idea.
(Featured Image: Nenad Nikolin, Founder & CEO of CouchCoach / Image Credit © CouchCoach)
What’s the product?
CouchCoach aims to enhance basketball fans’ experience at home by letting them take part in a real-time professional game.
It’s pretty straightforward. Thirty minutes before a game, users submit which 5 players they think should begin the game. Of course, the coach will choose who he wants. Maybe he will accept some of the players you proposed, maybe not.
When the game starts, you gain points if the coach picks your proposals. During the game, you will earn points based on the performance of your submitted players. On the other hand, you lose points if that player performs poorly. If things aren’t going well for your team, you can propose which players should come out and which should go in. Just like at the start of the game, you earn points for players you proposed and their success. The same goes if your submission doesn’t go through or doesn’t go well.
Users can like/dislike a coach’s decision. For now, user suggestions are only back end. In the future, it may be possible for coaches to receive push notifications. And if not the coach, the assistant coach. It’s always up to the coach to listen or ignore the notifications, of course!
You can create your own party at home or join an external party where fans watch games together at a distance. The prizes involved are tickets to future games, hats, and merchandise in general.
“We are one of the 9 companies working with Euroleague to develop innovative technologies. By partnering with CouchCoach, leagues can get more viewers and boost revenues on TV, online, and on social network platforms.”
How do you make money?
We are in pre-revenue mode now, but we’ve had some validation, earning €0.11 per active user, per game in earlier tests. In total, we have four revenue models: the first is based on a premium model wherein additional features, such as how many games users can play per month, will incentivize users.
The second is the sale of collected data to B2B partners, such as travel agencies, brands, clubs, and media platforms. The third is an online shop — a megastore that users see during app use. We then take a percentage of sales made therein.
The last is a white label model for closed basketball leagues (not the NBA)—the best example is the French basketball league and their strategic partner media provider SFR.
Why did you decide to launch the company?
The inspiration came from my career. I was a basketball player, a national referee, and head coach in a club. I know the game very well. I saw that there was a lot of potential to improve the fan experience, and after a few iterations, the game evolved to its current model.
Who are your primary customers?
For the moment, the online shop is the main cash generator. We’re in a promotional period. We want to reach 30,000 users quickly, at which point we’ll be able to expand more into the other streams.
Who’s on the team?
I, Nenad Nikolin, am the CEO, and my cofounder is Nikola Krstić. Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoškov is on our board. Big data analyst Dejan Vujić is also an important member, as well as Vladimir Kuzmanovic, ex-Euroleague player and European champ, now a sports commentator.
“We have private financing of €40,000, and we received a grant of €80,000 in government funding. In terms of goals, we hope to raise 1 million by the end of the year to scale up activities.”
Are there competitors?
Yes. In the USA, InPlay is the biggest competitor. Believe it or not, they launched two days before us! Admittedly, they are better in UX/UI, but we provide more options and actions to users. Each of our options provide real value, and we have a clear strategy about what we want to achieve through them.
What stage of funding are you at?
We have private financing of €40,000, and we received a grant of €80,000 in government funding. In terms of goals, we hope to raise 1 million by the end of the year to scale up activities.
We are one of the 9 companies working with Euroleague to develop innovative technologies. By partnering with CouchCoach, leagues can get more viewers and boost revenues on TV, online, and on social network platforms. We are working with Euroleague, the ABA league, the Basketball League of Serbia and the Basketball Federation of Serbia.
What’s your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is building the best game experience. When we published the app, many people weren’t used to this type of app. Many thought it was an e-sport, but few understand the concept as it stands independently. Overcoming this is the biggest challenge!