Christian Karembeu On His New Board Role
We speak with retired French Football legend Christian Karembeu regarding his involvement on the board as investor and advisor. to Sponsor.Online AG.
Best known for his 1998 World Cup triumph with France and winning the Champions League with Real Madrid, he joins the team of the Swiss based digital sponsorship marketplace with immediate effect and we wanted to find out more about his involvement.
Christian, how did you find out about SPONSOR.ONLINE?
A friend recommended this great project as an investment opportunity to me. As I am always curious about technological developments, I decided to take a deeper look.
Why did you decide to invest in SPONSOR.ONLINE?
First of all, I love the idea. I am a big fan of game-changing technologies and projects that have the potential to reshuffle whole industries. Sports is a very complex industry in which a lot of technology is used in the meantime. It involves many different expectations and players. Therefore, making something simple and easy to use is the key to success. You need to create a single and transparent environment.
It did not take long to realize that this project with a team of very experienced professionals from the sports industry who have a proven track record and passion for their idea is exactly what I have been looking for. Especially as we share the passion for sports in general, fairness and transparency.
Can you tell us a bit more about the platform? What do you mean by “transparent environment”?
Until now, you only were able to strike a sponsorship deal the old-fashioned way: Either by accepting the hassle of calling, emailing and meeting all your potential cooperation partners. Or by appointing a media agency as intermediary, which results in a hefty and substantial markup of up to 30%.
SPONSOR.ONLINE is a typical shared-economy marketplace with the ambition to facilitate the football sponsorship business. It is the first digital platform that enables football teams to get in touch with their potential sponsors directly. Teams simply put their assets on the platform and tag them with prices.
What about the companies? How do you attract them?
We offer a simple solution: a brand can browse through and choose from plenty of clubs, combine and compare the offers, and decide on which offer suits their needs best. It is easy, fair, and transparent for both sides. No longer a need to hold meetings just for the sake of holding meetings or to wait for a “no” from the company you are trying to turn into a sponsor. I understand that times are not easy, some budgets are tight, and companies want value for their investment.
Aren’t you worried that too much transparency in sports sponsorship might frighten the clubs?
Not at all. Just look at the developments in other industries where similar fears existed in the first place. Compare traveling today to traveling twenty years ago. I personally think that in five years, even the main sponsors will be sold and auctioned online. No secrets, no hiding. This is fair and easy.
And the development of SPONSOR.ONLINE in the past months proves our assessment. The platform already serves more than 150 professional football teams from Europe and represents over fifty global brands that are active in football sponsorship in the meantime. There are plenty of new clubs and sponsors following every week, first sponsorship contracts were signed and the total value of inventory offered is growing every day.
But as every investor, you want to see a return on your investment.
Of course. However, I only get involved in something if I identify myself with it. An idea, a team that shares my beliefs and values. Investing in SPONSOR.ONLINE is more than just a business transaction for me. I believe in the company’s mission to create something fair and transparent. I come from a part of the world where fairness is highly valued.
SPONSOR.ONLINE will help the sports industry to take the financial streams to a completely new level by making the existing market more efficient, reduce transaction costs and on top even create new market possibilities. For example, clubs and sponsors can strike deals on very short notice. Companies can coordinate their activities at different clubs and in different countries much easier than today. Furthermore, the platform will allow companies in the future to match their core values to those of the clubs.
How can teams and sponsors measure their investment through sponsorship? It is not easy to assess.
SPONSOR.ONLINE tracks and controls the life cycle of the contract using a comprehensive reporting system for both teams and brands based on the most recent available technologies. For example, everyone knows exactly what degree of fan engagement and potential customer reach is generated through our platform. For each euro spent, we can track the return-on-investment value. We do not want the sponsors just to spend money, we want them to spend smartly and understand what they received for their investment. And it helps the teams getting better deals as well.
How about the existing media agencies? Aren’t they the parties who are profiting most from brokering the deals at the moment?
As we have by far the lowest commission rates on the market, existing media agencies could see us as a strong competitor. But we are not fighting against marketing and media agencies. We believe that it will make their lives easier too as our products are attractive for them as well. Especially for those representing strong brands and operating internationally.
Where do you see the company five years from now?
Doing an online auction for major clubs’ main sponsors [laughs]. I feel we have the potential to change the world here, and I would be more than happy to share my passion with other investors who want to join us in our journey. I like the team, the key members are experienced professionals, the product is intuitive, and the pipelined services will make life easier for teams and sponsors.