Juked, which is looking to cement itself as the one-stop-shop destination for esports, has launched a crowdfunding campaign – opting to forgo venture capilist firms, instead allowing the public to invest at least $100 (£77.67).
To see how Juked’s company mission is coming along, why it’s decided to go down this path, and the plans for the funding, Esports Insider spoke with CEO Ben Goldhaber.
“Even before COVID hit, crowd equity was an appealing route for us for a couple reasons,” Goldhaber explained. “We love the idea of giving anyone the ability to invest in Juked not only to own a piece of a fast growing esports startup, but to actively contribute to the development and success of our product. We’re excited about the opportunity of having potentially thousands of investors become new brand advocates, supporters, and product testers, and will be working directly with our crowd equity investors to improve the product. Juked is a ‘by the community for the community’ type product, so it makes a ton of sense to bring in the esports community into the fold.”
“Crowd equity gives us more control over our destiny,” he continued. “Rather than be beholden to overbearing VCs, we’re beholden directly to the esports community. These factors combined made crowd equity the right route for us.”
We’re used to seeing major organisations raising dozens of millions of dollars, but Juked isn’t an organisation and, frankly, it’s not sinking anywhere as much capital as those raising eye-watering figures. “We’re looking to raise $250,000 via crowd equity, however we may go above this amount given sufficient interest,” Goldhaber told ESI. “Our team is still very small (four full-time and a few contractors), so this is a very significant amount that gives us runway and the ability to grow our team.”
While this seems like a modest sum in esports these days, the funding would go far for Juked should the target be met – and there are no worries there. At the time of writing, after the company sent the link to a select portion of its early user base, the fundraising was at 110 percent of its minimum goal.
“Proceeds from this round will primarily be used to hire for our engineering and content teams,” Goldhaber explained. “In the near future, we plan to expand Juked’s product offering significantly, including social features and gamification, as well as launch apps on iOS and Android. We need more engineering resources to do this and will look to hire 2-3 engineers in the next 12 months.
“On the content side, we still believe there are massive unmet opportunities in esports to create event previews and recaps for the biggest leagues, weekly podcasts/talk shows, highlights shows, and a lot more. Not going to fully spill the beans here, but suffice to say: we’re excited about content.”
Juked isn’t averse to traditional routes of funding, however, having raised $800,000 (£622,860) in February through its pre-seed round. The raise was put to use with the startup expanding its offering to include scores, team portals, and news aggregation.
Since then, Goldhaber and his team has moved quick in diversifying what it has to offer to fans – not only looking to aggregate event broadcasts, but other attractive features and sources of information too.
“It has been a whirlwind,” he said. “Our product has developed significantly with the launch of esports news on Juked, esports team pages, our very own Discord bot, Daily Digest emails, and much more.
“On the traction front we’ve been able to grow significantly up to 50,000 monthly active users with extremely limited marketing, mostly via word of mouth and through partnering with esports tournament organizers across the spectrum from grass roots to tier 1. Running a startup in 2020 has posed many challenges, but we’re all gamers so remote Discord meetings fit us just fine.”
The deadline for the crowdfunding campaign on Republic is May 1st and, though Juked has already surpassed its minimal target, it’ll be interesting to see how the initiative goes when you consider that Juked is built specifically to serve the very people that are encouraged to invest: fans.