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Sports NFTs with Alexi Yovanoff

George Grombacher July 7, 2022

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Sports NFTs with Alexi Yovanoff

LifeBlood: We talked about sports NFTs and the metaverse, what the future holds for access and experiences with athletes and events, and how to get started, with Alexi Yovanoff, CoFounder and COO of SportsIcon. 

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Alexi Yovanoff

Episode Transcript

nknown Speaker 0:00
Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
Oh boy, this is George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Alexei Ivana Alexei. Are you ready to do this? I am ready. I’m all in how you doing? I am doing great. Let’s go. Alexei is the co founder and chief operating officer of sports icon. They’re leading web three fan athlete interaction platform. They’re working to connect fans with their favorite sporting heroes meaningfully through NF Ts and building a marketplace and doing all kinds of really cool and exciting things in the world of NF TS Lexy excited to have you on. Tell us a little about your personal life some more about your work and why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:52
Some some huge questions, just a kick off. Let’s go. Big one straight off.

Unknown Speaker 0:58
So yeah, yeah, I have Alexi pins to me.

Unknown Speaker 1:03
Yeah, a little bit about myself really. And I’ve been working professionally in sports for about 12 years before founding sports icon, which was founded in 2020.

Unknown Speaker 1:16
I am a FIFA accredited FIFA match Agent and has previously set up a different company.

Unknown Speaker 1:25
And what that means really is that I have I have a license from FIFA, which is very hard to acquire and jump through many hoops to get

Unknown Speaker 1:35
to work with Federation’s I, football, Federation’s soccer, and other soccer clubs as well all around the world from every different continent. So I’ve spent the past 12 years doing that working on projects for football teams in in Africa, in Asia, over in the Americas, in Europe.

Unknown Speaker 1:55
So that’s given me

Unknown Speaker 1:58
I followed my my love, we I have a background in computer science and neuroscience, but I love sports. And that’s how I’ve ended up working in sport that kind of follow your dream, follow your passions. That was really the preeminent passion really was sport. And what I saw firsthand over that 1012 years was really the impact sports has all around the world, on different populations, and you know, different number of scales with different sized communities. And that impact is is you know, a large impact within all those communities. So

Unknown Speaker 2:33
I, yeah, so that’s kind of a bit of a brief synopsis into my background and sports icon was founded really with that thesis in mind of, of connecting fans and superfans with their sports heroes or their favorite sports clubs and trying to bring everyone closer and closer together really and giving access that wasn’t really available before to everyone around the world. So we have sports is top company, we’ve had a really successful PFP project, which launched back in August last year. And that’s the sports icon line club. Man again, is really kind of bringing together this global sports community to interact firsthand with stars like everyone else do in Floyd Mayweather. And the list goes on really in terms of the utility that we offered, as well as in real life experiences at places like Madison Square Gardens and all this stuff. Is that available to to our community.

Unknown Speaker 3:32
And then around the same point, probably a bit earlier last year, actually, we also decided to invest fairly significantly in the metaverse space.

Unknown Speaker 3:44
And if I’m if I’m going on too much, feel free to jump in at any point and say, Good. Take a breath, man. And I’ve got more questions.

Unknown Speaker 3:53
So we were super kid super interested in the metaverse space and built and extrapolating those communities from web two, into web three, you know, as per our kind of NFT platform and our PFP projects. And we did a lot of research, we did a lot of thinking and we were thinking about do we do buy some land in decentraland or sandbox or something like that. But ultimately, we decided that the best route to take would be to create our own metaverse.

Unknown Speaker 4:29
And that was based on feedback from our community, from brands and IP that we talked to that I’m connected to. I think what sandbox and decentraland have done is absolutely incredible. They’re absolutely amazing platforms that I think we want to take it in in a slightly different direction.

Unknown Speaker 4:48
Excited that was one of the questions I had for you is this world is just it’s opening up It’s expanding. Its expanding. How do you choose what to devote your resources

Unknown Speaker 5:00
Who and what to not?

Unknown Speaker 5:02
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think that that is a that is a good question. And it’s always, especially when you are one of the developers that we work with. He kind of he likes to say, oh, you know, we’re not working on the cutting edge of technology. were ahead of that we’re working on the bleeding edge we’re working on the bleeding edge is he’s kind of favorite, favorite phrase.

Unknown Speaker 5:24
So, yeah, there’s always a lot of decisions to be made. And some transitions to make here and there without shadow of a doubt. So you make the decision, we’re gonna make our own thing. And so I’m curious to know, if that’s just a project that will last forever, or if there’s if there’s actually an endpoint to it. And then what in your mind’s eye or what would my experience to be will be when I enter into your metaverse?

Unknown Speaker 5:54
Yeah, well, I mean, yes, I think the question, first of all, will it will there be an endpoint or will it last forever? That’s an easy one. It’s it’s going to it’s going to last forever. That’s the That’s the theory behind it.

Unknown Speaker 6:09
So what do you get? What is the experience? So I think I can probably start off by saying, Well, what is what is the experience now? And then what is actually the macro view? What’s the big picture? What are we working towards here? So

Unknown Speaker 6:26
one of the things we wanted to do was, when people buy land in Metaverse spaces, they generally get an NF T with a coordinate on, here’s a plot of land and

Unknown Speaker 6:39
you go in, that’s the end, go and build something if you want or just That’s it, you’re done. So what we actually wanted to do was to be able to offer our users on our community, something that is out of the box works already. So when people buy a plot of land in our Metaverse, what you get is something which we have turned a fan cave. It’s this high fidelity environment.

Unknown Speaker 7:05
And I guess, I guess one of the things I could have mentioned earlier is that the team that we’ve assembled to build this Metaverse space, we believe is truly world class. And that

Unknown Speaker 7:21
encompasses people that have spent 15 years as Vice President of Research and Development at Nvidia. And then the people below that really are game developers from Epic Games and EA Sports from Sony. So you know, we want to bring that that kind of feel to what we’re creating here.

Unknown Speaker 7:42
So out of the box, you get this this fan cave, what can you do with this fan cave, you can bring other other friends into the fan cave you can

Unknown Speaker 7:52
you can interact with people that you would normally interact with on Discord. For example, this cannot happen in in the in the sports metaphors fan cave.

Unknown Speaker 8:03
And then there’s also going to be, you know, mini games in there, you’ll be able to interact with your friends in there. You’ll also be able to stream live sports in the metaverse, which is pretty cool, I think. And so to the community. I mean, we’ve got, let’s say, for example, we’ve got community members, some of them are based in Jakarta, and certainly quite friendly with the guys based in New York and for those to be able to log on to this online space together and interact together and watch sports together. And that same environment is just so exciting for us.

Unknown Speaker 8:39
And, yeah, I mean, it looks I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the pictures or videos for it, but we are very, very excited by what we’ve created. And then over and above that, that kind of fan cave that you get. We’ve got athletes in there. We’ve got people that are not IP rights holders and they’re coming back to that the athletes we volumetrically captured Amanda Nunez, the UFC, best women pound for pound women’s fighter of all time the UFC. So Amanda has read it she’s obviously going through training at the moment for her fights on and just checking the date in 31 days against Pena and so she she has been recreating or recreating her gym for her in the space so people will be able to teleport from the fan cave into this Amanda Nunez experience and really interact with her on quite a deep level.

Unknown Speaker 9:37
She will take you on a tour hints and tips from her. There’s many games in there as well. And again, it’s in this high fidelity environment and people will have access to there’s only one Amanda Nunez but in the metaverse. You can have 1000s and 1000s of people interacting with that iteration of Amanda Nunez at the same time. So that’s what’s really exciting for us.

Unknown Speaker 10:00
See, what a what a really cool thing that is to be able to recreate her training space and interaction that? I mean, that’s right there I was expecting to hear things that I’d never thought of before. And that’s certainly one of them. So what a unique experience to be able to check out how your favorite athlete really trains and what a day to day kind of what that routine looks like. Because I know that we all think that it’s incredible, but to actually see it, what a what a cool thing. Yeah, absolutely. Nice. So that’s a that’s a pretty neat thing. What are some of the other things that you see, either you’re developing, or you say, you know, what, I think this is going to be really cool that people really are going to enjoy?

Unknown Speaker 10:44
Yeah, I think So zooming out a little bit.

Unknown Speaker 10:49
You know, we are in advanced conversations with some with IP rights holders, a few of which include some of that some of the biggest soccer clubs in the world. And this is not only specific for soccer clubs, you know, we are having similar conversations across the pond on your side. And so

Unknown Speaker 11:09
yeah, I think the so just to kind of circle back to a conversation I had recently with one of the apps definitely one of the top 10 biggest clubs, here in Europe. And they were saying, Well, you know, we’re, we’re building our new stadium, because we want our fan base to,

Unknown Speaker 11:29
to be able to come and

Unknown Speaker 11:31
spend time around the stadium, even when it’s not a game day, you know, so there’s shopping malls in there, there are, you know, coffee shops, but whatever they might be, which for European model, to be honest, is, is a lot newer than the US models, generally, the stadium’s over here, all loads, loads are never really built with that in mind, specifically, so they want to give their fans this experience. And I think, you know, our conversation was, okay, well, how many fans can you bring to the stadium on a on a game day or throughout the week? Because you’ve told us, uh, you have 400 million fans, but wide. So what if all of those fans, in theory, blue sky thinking can actually come and explore, explore and interact with and enjoy that space? That’s a much, much, much bigger audience. So you know, it’s, it’s, it’s all about helping the brand connects with there, maybe not even a global audience. But yes, absolutely. The global audience, but as well, the local population, it can’t make it in all the time to the stadium. It’s that point of connectivity online in the metaverse, there will be fan zones. activations, by by the IP whites holders in these spaces soars around down the side of the stadium where you can buy things that are, that appear as NF Ts that you can put on your avatar, but also the turn up the next day, and land on your doorstep, the physical version also. And I think big picture, maybe going 18 months down the line, perhaps is being able to finally walk into the stadium, sit down in a seat, so we’re gonna VIP bots and watch a live game in 3d in the metaverse. And I think that’s that’s the end goal is amazing. So you can correct me kind of tell me where I’m going wrong. But I can enter the metaverse and literally inside of the metaverse walk up to the stadium, go through security, for lack of a better term, walk through the concourse and buy my jersey in a Metaverse, which will tomorrow show up at my door physically, and then find my seat and actually watch the game with theoretically, you know, 100,000 other people? Yeah, 100% 100% Theoretically, maybe if your global audience is 400 million 400 million people? sort of cool thing. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 14:10
How long? You mentioned 18 months, and we’re certainly not going to hold you to a data, like how long does it take to actually build that out?

Unknown Speaker 14:21
Well, I think it’s at the moment, it’s a matter of the hardware technology, I think for that to be built out. It’s more it’s it’s not an insignificant amount of time, but it could be a six to eight month build time. But actually, I think really it’s it’s more the hardware at the moment the hardware technology, which is

Unknown Speaker 14:43
you know, we’ve had a few conversations recently with people that are pushing the boundaries and knees kind of mean what I mentioned earlier regarding volumetric capture, you are essentially in a green screen but like in a two green screen, you have about 100 km

Unknown Speaker 15:00
As pointed out you each camera capturing one gigabyte of data every single second.

Unknown Speaker 15:06
That’s a huge lift. So that’s how we volcat and recreate things in the metaverse. Now, there are people that are pushing the boundaries now with a Synology, which would use GoPros, which are very which are much more mobile. And they can, at the present

Unknown Speaker 15:24
probably recreate

Unknown Speaker 15:27
a football game or basketball game on a kind of half court level. And so that technology is these evolving, and it will be that technology, which, which ends up in stadiums. So

Unknown Speaker 15:42
I think we just need to kind of support these hardware developers as much as we can as well. It’s really important.

Unknown Speaker 15:50
It what will I need at home in order to really enjoyed the experience?

Unknown Speaker 15:57
So you know, I bet most people will access the space on on a desktop or laptop computer.

Unknown Speaker 16:04
I think it’s roughly 80 85% of people that do enter these spaces do use a desktop or laptop. However, it will be possible to use in something like an Oculus, Oculus Susan Mehta that would obviously provide a much richer, immersive environment than than a desktop. So both both will be options.

Unknown Speaker 16:25
Are we going to see big advances in this hardware technology as as consumers as well? Do you think or is that?

Unknown Speaker 16:33
Yeah, I think I think there are definitely things around from an open house out there. I think the the oculus at the moment, it’s to do with being a bit lighter.

Unknown Speaker 16:43
So yeah, I think, I think as is the trend with a lot of things that try to make them start off making people shrink them as time passes. Yeah, for sure.

Unknown Speaker 16:55
more streamlined for sure. Yeah. Super exciting. So

Unknown Speaker 17:00
how do you break up your day? You’re obviously spreading the word about it, having conversations like this, and then you are making brand deals, but how, how does your time gets spent? Usually?

Unknown Speaker 17:13
How does my time gets spent? Usually? That’s a great question. So normally, with if I’m, if I’m looking ahead to the next week, it’s doesn’t look too bad. But um, but when I log on the Monday morning rant, it’s completely packed out.

Unknown Speaker 17:31
So it’s an it’s a mixture of, you know, we are we’re a salsa, we’re not, we’re not I’m not a huge Goliath of a company. So, as as a as a founder or co founder, you know, we have to kind of do a little bit of everything

Unknown Speaker 17:46
depends on this folds in the marketing and stuff like that, but also

Unknown Speaker 17:53
the legal bits that we need to deal with the the accounting, the Fiat accounting, the crypto counselling, the all that all our side of things, as well as you know, fitting in all these all these other meetings

Unknown Speaker 18:08
around the IP

Unknown Speaker 18:12
around kind of the you know, the PFP project and the development of the site and the website sports

Unknown Speaker 18:22
is a flow based site. So it is based on flow we are actually backed by dapper labs and row Hammer as well separately

Unknown Speaker 18:33
as well as kind of a myriad of other really cool investors such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Chad Hurley of YouTube

Unknown Speaker 18:42
cetera and as the wrap up was very excited about that, to be honest, so.

Unknown Speaker 18:48
So yeah, it’s it really is kind of a mixed bag of everything trying to keep track of on top of everything pointing in the right direction. It’s still finding the time to connect with these these rights holders.

Unknown Speaker 19:03
And keep keep the conversations going with. We’ve recently been over at NXT NYC. So we had some kind of great meetings around the event there with investors and people that have already invested and kind of potential future collaborators. And Chris is also Chris, the co founder was also on stage during on one of the panels. So that’s kind of that’s great to kind of get our get on our brand out there a bit more as well. Jim, keep it all the plates spinning. Does any of that make any sense to order some of it did.

Unknown Speaker 19:43
You know I think that a lot of folks who listen to the show are are entrepreneurial minded and so they totally get it. You’ve got gotta keep it up to

Unknown Speaker 19:54
the day the days always starts with the dog. And it always ends with a dog or so you know

Unknown Speaker 20:00
Gotta get that fresh air as well. There you go. I love it. Well, let’s see the people are ready for that different speaking tip. What do you have for them? Difference making tip

Unknown Speaker 20:12
I have is

Unknown Speaker 20:17
it’s actually kind of I think it’s a well it’s definitely not

Unknown Speaker 20:21
actually crypto related but it is kind of community and people related and it’s being multilingual

Unknown Speaker 20:29
is you’ll be able to go and experience so much more of the world and interact with so many more people if you can see more than one language.

Unknown Speaker 20:41
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets come up. Lexi, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with sports icon and the new metaverse? Yep. So sports is the platform the metaverse is at sports and we are at sports icon on Twitter. And the land sales going to be on the 14th of July. Just around the corner. We have

Unknown Speaker 21:15
we’ve got a heavily oversubscribed whitelist to about 15,000 people at the moment.

Unknown Speaker 21:21
So we are all very excited we’re working very very hard towards towards that that finish. Finish Line. The halfway line. I suppose something of a Lancer 14

Unknown Speaker 21:33
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did show love to your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciate good ideas go to sports SPO RT s i c o Then go to sports and check out all the details of what they’ve got going on and

Unknown Speaker 21:57
see if you can get on that list and and take advantage of this super cool and exciting new offering and brave Brave New World. Thanks again Alexei. Thank you jokes. Take care. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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