Southampton FC owner backs startup ‘changing how world watches sport’


A startup aiming to change the way the world sees sport has raised £2.1million in seed funding.

London-based Sport Buff was founded in 2019 by tech entrepreneur Benn Achilleas and global broadcast leader Jonty Whitehead. Its gamification and on-screen engagement tools are already being used by Major League Soccer in the US and major broadcasters.

After a pre-seed round last year, the company now has seed funding from London-based Sport Republic, Longboard Capital in the US, Calvert Drive (New Zealand) and Intrepid Ventures (Cyprus), as well as personal investments from a number of Individuals including will receive Matthew Benham, owner of Premier League club Brentford FC.

Investment firm Sport Republic owns Premier League club Southampton.

“Our investment in Sport Buff at this early stage is a testament not only to our belief in the company, its leadership and performance, but also the opportunities they can bring to our companies and the global sports and broadcasting industries,” said Henrik Kraft, Chairman & Co-Founder of Sport Republic.

“The global sports market alone is worth over $50 billion in media rights and $200 billion in betting revenue. It takes ways to increase engagement, build audiences, and create new commercial opportunities – especially with next-gen audiences – and Sport Buff can deliver all three.

“While this summer has seen challenging conditions for investment, there will always be strong interest when the right deal and opportunity present themselves.”

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Sport Buff graphics fit around the station’s original coverage and layout to provide viewers with additional information, engagement and interaction – through posts, polls and quizzes – that increase their fun and understanding and allow them to earn rewards and prizes to win.

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The company says that broadcasters using its tools are proven to increase viewing time, capture valuable data and drive stronger engagement with their viewers, as well as create new on-screen sponsorship assets that help them better engage and keep their audiences and monetize.

Company President, Whitehead, has 30 years of experience in TV sports production and rights work at broadcasters such as beIN Media Group in the Middle East, Fox Sports in North America and Sky Sports in the UK.

CEO Achilleas built sports technology and digital engagement specialists TrueFan, neoco and Playbl, working with global consumer sports and entertainment brands such as Sony PlayStation, 2K Games, Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester City, and technology partners such as Samsung, YouTube and Microsoft.

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“This investment round is a great validation of our product, our performance and our vision and will drive the next big steps in our development,” said Achilleas.

“It brings significant funding combined with the vast experience, valuable connections and superb investor advice that will help us to expand, reach new partners and deliver for viewers, brands and broadcasters.

“Sport Buff works for rights holders, broadcasters and consumers as there is a proven track record of viewers playing and sticking with the coverage, then coming back for more. We are changing the way the world sees sport.

“We have significant global deals with broadcasters and rights holders, both signed and in the pipeline, and we have continued to expand our capabilities with significant new hires in the UK, Europe, North America and the Middle East.”

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