Mexico City — Mexican startup Draftea, a fantasy sports platform that allows users to create their dream team and win money, announced Tuesday the completion a new $4 million investment round that includes both private equity firms and a host of star athletes and celebrities.
The roster of investors features Spanish former basketball player Pau Gasol, Spanish footballer and Premier League star César Azpilicueta, Spanish former soccer player Iker Casillas, U.S. basketball player Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures, American football players Travis Kelce and Odell Beckham Jr., JayZ’s Arrive, The Chainsmokers’ Mantis, Courtside Ventures and NNS Advisers.
The Mexican startup was created by Alán Jaime Misrahi, its CEO, and Joe Cohen, who was previously head of engineering at Vercel, a global technology company.
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With Draftea you can “form your dream 11 with the players you think will put in a better performance in real life because every action of the player in real life gives you points in Draftea, and with your knowledge of the game you compete with other players who also ‘drafted’ the same match with the possibility of winning bags of money,” Misrahi explains.
Although Draftea is in beta version, this is not the first time it has received funding, having previously raised $13.2 million from funds such as Sequoia, Kaszek and Bullpen.
In addition to obtaining investment from some of the best private equity funds in the world, Misrahi added Nigel Eccles, founder and former CEO of FanDuel, a U.S. gaming company that offers sports betting, DFS, online casino and online horse race betting, to the project as his mentor.
Draftea’s Dream Team
In an interview with Bloomberg Línea, Misrahi said investors have seen a huge market opportunity for Draftea.
In Mexico alone, 58% of the population follows a soccer team, according to a 2022 study by Consulta Mitofsky.
And now, he says, “we are fortunate to have put together a dream team with investors such as Iker Casillas, Pau Gasol, Odell Beckham Jr., among other successful athletes, who know that this is the future of sports and how fans interact with their favorite clubs and players”.
The entrepreneur says that this new round of investment snowballed, in which athletes were inviting other athletes to join Draftea.
Regarding his participation as an investor in the startup, Spanish soccer player Casillas said: “I am delighted that SportBoost has become part of the Draftea family. From the moment we were presented with the project, I saw the opportunity to join a truly great team. We are starting in Mexico, a country for which I have a special affection”.
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“Latin America has millions of passionate fans who are constantly looking for new opportunities to interact with their favorite athletes and teams, and Draftea offers a platform in all the major sports followed in the region (including the NBA). I am delighted to join this stellar group of investors,” added basketball player Pau Gasol.
In addition to personalities in the sporting world, Draftea will also have investment from DJ Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers, who is an investor in the Mantis VC fund.
“We have always been incredibly passionate about sports, and the connection it creates between people, and we believe Draftea’s strategy will resonate deeply. We’ve seen firsthand how our music can bring people together and drive community, and we believe Draftea will do exactly the same. Their opportunity in soccer, basketball and the World Cup sets Draftea up for a very exciting future, and we at Mantis are excited to help in any way we can,” said the musician.
The dream team is not only made up of investors. The Mexican entrepreneur has taken on the task of creating a robust team that includes Alejandra Lascuráin, who led product at Albo, the largest neobank in Mexico; Miguel Gutiérrez Barquín, who was the global director of Growth Rappi; and Andreas Assad, who worked at EA Sports. Today there are more than 40 people on the team.
“We have talent all over the Americas, which makes us a regional company,” Misrahi says.
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Draftea’s story began less than a year ago. But “creating Draftea was a dream I had since I was a child,” Misrahi says, and who also dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player.
“Soccer is my passion, I’ve played it since I was five years old. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been near a soccer ball. My best memories are of playing, or being at the stadium,” he adds.
Each step helped him create his entrepreneurial path; his master’s degree in Sports Business and his MBA at Stanford led him to design this platform. In addition, the lawyer by profession had already served as an ‘intrapreneur’, that is, doing entrepreneurship projects within the company he worked for, so he gained experience in that area.
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In June of last year, when he graduated from his MBA, he finally decided to combine what he is passionate about: soccer and business.
“Today, sports fans in Latin America gather to watch their favorite games, sometimes bet in local casinos or organize traditional fantasy contests, but there are no options that allow them to have a social experience based on their sports knowledge,” he said regarding the business opportunity he saw.
Misrahi’s goal is to connect people through their passion and knowledge of sports and to create a community of friends and opponents that share the same desire: to show who is best, entering tournaments, competing and winning prizes.
Among the strategies to make themselves better known among their users is the alliance they have struck up with the Mexican Soccer Federation and the national soccer team.
“We love to be very close to our users, we love constant feedback, and we love to improve. The closer we are to our users, the better an experience we can provide on our platform,” he says.
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In one month of operation, he says, they have seen the number of users grow week-on-week. Although initially,Draftea can only be played in Mexico, in the medium term the intention is to expand to South America to countries such as Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru.
Draftea started with soccer, but Misrahi says this year it will add American football and basketball to its platform. “We want everyone who is passionate about any sport to be able to take their passion to another level using Draftea. The idea is that all the leagues in the world, of all sports, can be followed in Latin America on Draftea”.