Jonas, can you quickly explain what Liquiditeam is and does?
Jonas Rubel: We are a startup at the intersection of sports and technology. We develop blockchain-powered solutions that help bridge the gap between sports clubs/organisations and their fans. Our two core products are LT Fan Platform and LT Sports Invest.
What is your goal, your mission?
We want to provide professional sports organisations, creators, influencers and any content publishers or enthusiasts with tools to build, grow, and engage with their fans. Fundamentally, we are creating a suite of tools that leverage blockchain technology to empower the creator economy. With sports being our main market, we see a glaring need for digitalization and platform ownership that isn’t reliant on the big social media giants.
With that platform and audience ownership comes a much more organic and close relationship between clubs and fan. At the end of the day, the fans are everything.
Can you call it an advanced loyalty platform?
I wouldn’t say so. I would call it a toolkit that allows you to build several use cases out of the box. Depending on how you position your fan platform, you can think of tokens in several ways.
If premium content is your platform’s value proposition, the token can be considered digital credit to access said content primarily. If your platform is based around fan co-creation and community building, the token serves as a social reputation mechanism — the more you contribute to the community, the more tokens you will accrue.
And if your main goal is to incentivize and increase your fans’ engagement thinking about the token as a loyalty point is the most accurate analogy.
In practice, your token’s function can and will share traits with each of the use cases outlined. Still, it helps to keep in mind the different “dimensions” the token can have.
You already have a concrete case in football with Borussia Dortmund. How does this case look like?
Borussia Dortmund is positioning LT Fan Platform as a hub for its international fan base. At the time we started our conversation they only had an app serving German-speaking fans. With our app they now cater towards their fans outside of Germany.
BVB makes heavy use of the interactive features LT Fan Platform provides. They have used our community brainstorming tool that we call Ideation Hub to gather ideas on how the club could show more presence abroad and conduct AMAs with Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna.
Was it easy to get them on board – or in other words, do football organisations understand your approach?
Many top football clubs are already building their own dedicated fan applications because they represent an enticing (and cheaper) way to reach their passionate fans. And thus, we did not have to oversell the utility of establishing a direct link to fans.
What we did focus on was how the tokenized and gamified nature of our product builds on that utility by making it more enjoyable for the fans. Gamification is a hot topic and its efficacy has been proven in many verticals.
How do you “sell” it to them?
Most fan-centric organisations, whether from the sports world or not, realize that platform risk is a serious problem. Most of the clubs and athletes we talk to think about how they can become less dependent on the Instagrams, Twitters, and TikToks of this world. This dimension doesn’t require a lot of “selling”.
The person we speak to also shifts the pitch slightly. A CMO wants to reach more fans, engage those fans, and help shift brand sentiment. A CDO wants to leverage new technologies to hit different fan touchpoints beyond just during live games. A CSO wants to sell more tickets, merchandise, and premium memberships. Our platform accomplishes all of this synergistically.
To sum it up, we understand the pain points and we are building a product that solves them.
What’s the reason for football clubs to work with you, how do they profit, what’s the business case behind it?
As I mentioned in the previous question, our platform was built to solve business challenges. Sports is an attention and reach business model. The more fans and attention on your brand, the more revenue you can generate from sponsors, partnerships, merchandise sales, and ticketing.
Our platform seeks to drive those metrics directly by letting fans segment their most loyal and purchase intent-driven fans. We firmly believe that giving fans a good user experience will yield short and long-term dividends on sentiment and that is the core outcome we focus on.
You developed two products, the LT Fan Platform and LT Sports Invest. Can you tell us more about them?
The LT Fan Platform is our white label tokenized fan platform for sports entities to build exciting digital communities that they own. The platform allows sports brands to publish multimedia content, giving fans voting rights and ideation opportunities, create and mint digital collectibles and NFTs and much more.
LT Sports Invest leverages the capabilities of blockchain technology to provide a secure and compliant platform for sports teams and fans to issue and invest in digital sports securities. Thus represents a direct-to-investor channel and where clubs can raise capital from an international investor base at a lower cost.
Why is it important for football organisations to have their own platforms to own their fans instead of relying on facebook, Instagram and other platforms?
At the moment, football teams who rely heavily on social platforms are, to put it simply, “renting” the attention of their fans when they engage with them on social media. The social platforms will always own the data and attention of the fans. And because of how the algorithms work, content is not always seen by all fans.
With your own platform, you shift that “power” away from those social channels, consequently reducing the risk of your content being throttled, not seen etc. You then control a considerable amount of data that can be leveraged in a lot of the same ways those social platforms are using it. Additionally, you are in control of how user generated content is moderated. And finally, sports teams have more opportunities to test new strategies, develop closer bonds with fans, and even give those fans a say in decisions. It’s a win-win.
What are the next steps in your development process? What new services and features are planned?
There are three main areas that we will focus on in the foreseeable future. The first one being more social features. Users of your fan platform will be able to connect with one another, similar to what you know from social networks – a crucial cornerstone of building a vibrant community in our opinion. This will also let operators leverage the power of UGC – user generated content.
The second area is live video. Not only does the success of Twitch show how well live video performs but especially the younger audience has become so used to the high level of interaction live streaming offers. We consider it a very important tool and will offer it in our toolkit soon.
The third area is cross-platform interoperability. One of the main reasons we built our product based on blockchain technology is that it provides an open standard and in turn interoperability with many other systems. One area where this provides a very obvious advantage is the NFT space. There is a plethora of marketplaces out there, many with a strong focus on the sports world. They are almost exclusively built on the same core building blocks – namely the Ethereum blockchain coming in different flavors. Our NFT feature allows you to issue and sell NFTs to users within your platform, but it will also allow a user to move these collectibles into other environments easily.
Finally, tokens are a real hype in football right now. Do You think that new revenue streams and solid business models will arise from that hype?
Like all new technology, the viability and implementation are typically met with some healthy skepticism. It’s the market’s way of filtering out the good from the bad. And blockchain and tokens have to go through the same gauntlet to come out as worthy.
Our resounding sentiment is yes, tokens and blockchain represent innovative technology that surpasses just the current speculative bubble many think it is. The technology provides layers of security, transparency, and decentralization that sports fans particularly can appreciate.
In terms of new revenue streams, it already is generating very lucrative business models. NBA Top Shot, Socios, Sorare, etc. are all proving that fans are looking for new ways to get involved with their favorite teams.
Tokens will not open up a new sustainable revenue stream just for the sake of the tokens. But as an underlying technology that allows true ownership in the digital realm, there is no doubt they will be an essential part of (not only) sports’ future business models.
This interview was originally published in the FBIN Magazin from September 2021.