FanSaves – Bringing Sports Sponsorship into the Digital Age

Everyone has been to a sporting event, spent 2 or 3 hours watching their favorite team in the arena or on the field, but can you remember the names of the sponsors that were on the boards or around the arena or field?  If you can great for you, but for most of us that is where Shannon Ferguson and Kris McCarthy and their company FanSaves platform come into play.  This month we chatted with Shannon and Kris about their new app that is giving businesses that sponsor events more bang for their sponsorship buck and something that truly engages potential customers.

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With their prowess in sports, marketing and sponsorship, Shannon Ferguson and Kris McCarthy never thought they’d have problems getting businesses to sponsor the minor professional hockey teams they managed.

But two years ago, the two hit a snag:  They noticed a lot of businesses wanted more bang for their sponsorship buck.

“Businesses wanted more than just their logo on a jersey  or their name brand on a rink board or scoreboard,” said Ferguson. “They wanted a digital way to activate and engage people, track their return on investment and track customer analytics.”

McCarthy and Ferguson realized that they had nothing in their inventory that could provide sponsors what they wanted so they co-founded the FanSaves app to help themselves get more sales.

“There just wasn’t anything in the market, so we created it ourselves and soon realized we could help other teams and organizations who were in the same position as us.” said Ferguson.

FanSaves is a mobile app that gives sports fans discounts and deals from their favourite teams and organizations. People can simply download the app for free, follow their favourite teams and see exclusive deals from businesses that sponsor the team.  No more need to cut coupons out of the back of the game-day program.

McCarthy says that FanSaves is a digital solution for teams and their sponsors that allows them now to both have the opportunity to track important redemption metrics in their unique dashboards.

“We’re living in a data-driven world and brands need to be able to track their ROI. FanSaves finally makes this possible and activates fans in the process,” he said.

Ferguson sees sports-tech as an emerging industry and knows they have to keep up with the trends by continuing to update the app and stay ahead on innovation in their marketplace.

“In this digital age, there is no reason for a business to sponsor anything and just get a logo on a jersey or banner. So many businesses are just used to it, but we’re changing the status quo. We can offer so much more,” she said.

The pair recently hired three employees and plan to keep growing their team. Headquartered in Cornwall, Ontario, FanSaves is proud to bring sports-tech to a rural community, noting that being located an hour from Ottawa and an hour from Montreal is extremely beneficial.

FanSaves’ platform now features 20 teams from across Ontario and the United States, including New York, Connecticut, and North Dakota.  As well, an entire girls youth soccer club from Brampton, Ontario just joined the platform along with an e-sports league and multiple tourism and downtown BIAs coming on as well.

“It’s great to be growing our verticals outside of just sports. We’ve been on the front lines selling sponsorship and now we get to help teams and other organizations be right on people’s smartphones, activating people anytime of the day,” explained McCarthy.

There are currently over 100 deals on the app from large brands to smaller more local businesses. This opens the market to mom-and-pop shops, giving them an opportunity to sponsor when they usually wouldn’t feel like it would be much benefit.

“This is going back to the principle of activation. People see hundreds of logos each day, and if you ask them 24 hours later, they can’t recall any of them. They need a call-to-action. The deal is a conduit from the sponsor to reach a fan,” said McCarthy.

Recently, the co-founders represented Canada on the global stage at an international pitch competition in Berlin, Germany. The pair have honed their pitching skills at over 20 different conferences and competitions in the past year alone and attribute their networking skills as a reason for their fast growth.

“We have an amazing advisory board of 10 people who are experts in their fields, we have been part of some really great cohorts and are currently part of the Invest Ottawa accelerator which has been fantastic,” said McCarthy.

“We feel so lucky that so many people are so eager to help us because they see our vision,” added Ferguson.

The co-founders visions continue to grow as they work towards changing the face of sponsorship and ensuring that anyone who pays to sponsor or advertise with a team, organization, city or event gets their money’s worth and activates as many people as possible.

FanSaves recently won the second annual RC100 competition, receiving a $100,000 seed investment from Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC).

“We want to prove that you don’t have to live in Silicon Valley to be a successful tech company,” said Ferguson, “We want to show the world that Renfrew County is the place to do business and we want to prove that a rural county can help produce a world-class tech startup. The RC100 investment will make this possible.”

McCarthy and Ferguson do not rest on what they have accomplished, but stay focused on the future as they get ready to head to Startup of the Year™ Summit as one of the Top 100 Semi-finalists selected to pitch, showcase, and connect with investors, corporate innovators and other accelerators. FanSaves will battle it out in the 7th Annual Startup of the Year Global Competition this October for the second year in a row.

This innovative pair have come a long way and are excited about the future of the company and doing all they can do to make sure selling sponsorship become easier for those who do it.

by Jamie Barrie