Our Investment in STAN: Web3 Meets eSports in India
The two consumer spaces that have been among the fastest growing in India in terms of level of innovation, creator energy and mainstream adoption are eSports andWeb3 /NFTs. According to E&Y, eSports is projected to grow from 17M viewers to 85M viewers and from 150k to 1.5M professional players in the next 24-36months. Similarly, the number of crypto ‘HODLers’ in India has grown explosively to an estimated 7.3% of the population or 100 million people, according to Statista. This combination has led to a powerful flywheel for product platforms that create new fan experiences while unlocking innovative engagement & business models for eSports players and creators.
Enter STAN. STAN is an esports fan's#1 destination to engage, play and grow closer to their idols through a uniquely crafted experience using digital collectibles / mutable NFTs, all while enabling fans to realize their Fan Dreams! Built by an incredible founding team led by CEO Parth Chadha (who previously co-founded and ran eWar Games) and Founder/Investor Akshat Rathee aka LordNOD, respected eSports leader and product builder (Founded and built Nodwin Gaming / acq. by Nazara Games). They have built a near complete founding team covering product, leadership and art/design, including Rahul Singh (eWar Games), ShubhamGupta (Fanplay), Nauman Mulla, aka no-fear Nauman (NIMO TV and Huya) and others.
STAN aims to bring the two together with beautifully designed fan experiences(sample artwork below) that both drive overall engagement as well as allow creators and players to unlock new ways to provide unique experiences, collectibles and build communities around popular eSports titles even as the market for tournaments grows and creates 11k jobs in India and prize money and sponsorships of INR 3.5 billion, growing @ 46% yoy. The team will initially focus on the incredibly popular BGMI and Freefire titles and bring together communities, drive unique player-fan interactions, create collectibles and perks including NFTs, launch live fantasy games, provide early access to content etc. In other words, everything needed to be not just a fan, but a STAN!
Today,General Catalyst (GC) is excited to lead the seed round in STAN. This marks GC’s 1st Web3/Crypto investment in India. We are excited to be joined in this round by Better Capital and operator angels from Coinbase, OpenSea, Kaleyra etc. STAN is a great example of a popular trend today in India - where the best Gen-Z Web2 product and entrepreneurial talent are choosing to focus on building incredible web3product experiences.
We at GC believe in the depth of our relationships with the ecosystem. Prior to investing in STAN, we cultivated relationships with the best founders, investors and executives at the confluence of Gen Z, eSports and Web3. We conducted ‘office hours’ where we met tens of interesting founders buildingWeb3 products. STAN stood out for us in terms of their inside knowledge of eSports, understanding of the market need both on the player and the fan angles as well as a high quality & complementary team to build the best product experience. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Parth, Akshat and teamSTAN and wish them well on this exciting journey!
If you are a BGMI or Freefire STAN, head on to try out their early access product that launched on Google Play last week. General Catalyst is open for business to be an early partner for the most ambitious Web3 founders and we look forward to doing more in this space.