DashTag: Bringing FIFA-like stats to soccer players in the US
Young people nowadays are brought up with a smartphone in their hand. They’re online and they’re on social media. They play games and share their experiences with their virtual friends. Yet, more often than not, there’s a certain disconnect between what they do and achieve in the online world and what they do and achieve offline, and vice versa.
Epco Berger, Cliff de Roode and Dirk van den Berg have found a way to bridge this gap – especially when it comes to youth soccer players. As co-founders of DashTag, they’ve developed a wearable, called the Dash, that gives soccer players access to their own sports data after every game, and a bot that pushes that data directly to their favorite messaging platform.
FIFA, in fact, has been quite the inspiration for the ambitious team. They’ve designed DashTag to provide players with FIFA game-like stats in a way that they can easily understand and relate to.
“On the platform, we communicate with players in a way that they’re already familiar with from popular video games like FIFA 17,” Epco says. “With their stats delivered in a personalized way, they can use them to compete with other players, and essentially, train and improve their skills.”
The Dash helps track the speed, acceleration and pace of each player with a high level of accuracy. As a result, the team of now 12 is on a mission to bring professional stats to amateur soccer players around the world.
First international stop: The US
DashTag has a proposition for a very specific target audience – youngsters between the ages of 13-24. “So far, we have 11.5 thousand players that have shown interest and signed up, of whom about 10,000 are from the US,” Epco says.
With such interest coming from the US market, the team decided to validate their concept there, and indeed, the results spoke for themselves. “We talked to a lot of young soccer players in the US and learned that they are very dedicated, competitive, and they want to be the best. It’s a different attitude than here in Europe.”
Youth soccer in the US is a lot more diverse, too, as girls are eager to train and improve almost as much as guys are.
For DashTag, a market with such interest in and dedication to soccer, and sports in general, is just the right place to be. Starting 2018, the team will be expanding to the US and basing their marketing and sales operations there. As Dirk puts it, “It’s like seconds before the kick-off: we have trained hard, and now we’re ready for the match!
Perhaps unintentionally so, the team has always had a bit of a US approach to their business. “When we first started out, we did it the Silicon Valley way,” Epco says. “We invested our own savings and bootstrapped for a while, then moved on to the 3 Fs – friends, family and fools. We later got support from angel investors as well.”
DashTag has successfully raised two funding rounds: One in 2016, in the amount of €300,000, and another one in February 2017, in the amount of €500,000.
Looking forward, there are more – and bigger – milestones to come. After all, the ambition is to go global. “Once we establish DashTag in the US, we’d like to come back to Europe, then go to Asia,” Cliff says. “We also plan to expand to more sports in the near future.”
For now, however, Epco, Cliff and Dirk see the need to have a focused proposition, and that focus is on soccer and the US market. “We really need to be where our customers are,” Dirk says. “We need to breathe and feel the US soccer environment.”
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Photographer: Raymond de Vries photography
Copywriter: Mina Nacheva