14. February 2013–
Football. The world's most popular game, with over 250 million players worldwide and an industry worth a huge €20bn. Tapping into this lucrative market is Slovenian-based startup Fieldoo – which works as a kind of LinkedIn for the football industry – connecting players with agents and scouts. So far, the startup has 4000 players registered on site, from over 100 countries.
We caught up with co-founder Jure Doler to find out how following your passion can be the best career move and why a lunch with Messi would be his dream come true...
Who are you and what are you doing?
Hi, I'm Jure, one of the co-founders of Fieldoo. We are a football network for players and agents, which lets players present their skills in a portfolio and their own web page, so scouts can find them and to facilitate transfers. It allows networking, hiring, signing and other related activities to be completed in one platform.
We don’t target the Messis or Ronaldos, but other players who may have trouble getting transferred and moving forward with their careers. It’s a marketplace for them to network and make their business easier and more productive.
Klemen (one of the co-founders) and myself are huge football fans. So the idea came up when one of our friends was playing football. One day he asked us to put a promo video of him playing on YouTube and make a PDF of his CV to send to agents. And we realised, to get his stuff out to an agent he needs to send so many links and attachments. We decided to make it easier and combine everything in one link – so the player has his CV etc at a Fieldoo address. It’s like an online business card.
While we were exploring the market, we saw there is a lack of communication between agents and players. Not at the top level, but in the lower levels, for up-and-coming players. We are turning back to the heart of the game, we allow all aspiring players to showcase themselves to scouts and agents. This puts everyone on a level playing field.
Who are the founders and how did you find each other?
We are a team of three co-founders, Andraz Skoric, the CTO (below left), Klemen Hosta, CEO (middle) and myself as the CMO. I was studying marketing with Clemens in Barcelona, where we had an awesome opportunity to follow football closely. Klemen and Andraz were school mates. Fieldoo is our first serious attempt at a startup.
What makes you different from everyone else?
We are deep in the industry and have connections with the top world of football. You can see in the testimonials at the bottom of our homepage – there is one from a board member from Barcelona football club. It’s a massive advantage being supported by him, it opens a lot of doors for us.
We’re also trying to make something special with a new feature that’ll be presented soon, called Hire an Agent. We think it’s revolutionary and will be a breakthrough in the industry. At the moment, agents hire players, but Fieldoo will let players hire agents – we had great feedback from both parties on this.
In the last year, FIFA reported an international transfer every 45 minutes, 365 days a year. And this isn’t even all players – for example, Ronaldo transferring to Real Madrid, that’s the tip of the iceberg. There are so many transfers all year all over the world. That’s where we see our opportunities.
What is your business model?
We have agent subscriptions – players can register for free. Players can also pay to get a premium account.
Who is financing you?
At the moment, we have angel investors from Slovenia and Russia, but we're looking for a new funding round soon.
Is there something that you missing?
We’ll need technical and editorial help soon, to keep our product needs at a high quality.
Who would you like to have a lunch with and what would you talk about?
This is a little bit of business and a little bit of pleasure, it’d have to be Lionel Messi from Barcelona – I admire his career and he could be one of the examples for Fieldoo. In his career he was really lucky, only one person in Barcelona trusted him. Plus my favourite football team is Barcelona, so I have a close relationship with them.
Any advice you'd give for fellow startups?
If we had an interview one year ago I couldn't have said half of it. You have no idea what to expect at the beginning. But you have to believe in yourself and push hard and try hard. Even if you get ten "nos", the next could be a yes – which is such a driver. We were rejected a lot, but you have to go on – you need to keep your dream and believe in your product, that you’ll be the best in your market.
Where will you be in a year's time?
I would hope that the first thing that comes up in the mind of trainers and players and agents will be Fieldoo. So they’ll think "OK I have to train, I have a match on Sunday, and I have to update my Fieldoo profile". That'd be great.
We might also move Fieldoo to Switzerland or London, mostly to be more credible to users and potential investors – and they have better football network like FIFA and the UEFA…
Have you had any success stories?
Yes – a Serbian agent working for a Spanish agency found a player from Slovenia and transferred him to Thailand. It’s very international!
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