As more sports teams become immersed in the business and use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), SportTechie chatted with Sweet CEO and founder Tom Mizzone to discover how Sweet is establishing itself in the marketplace. Sweet is working with sports teams and brands to help create unique customer experiences.
* * * * *
What led to the creation of Sweet? “The original vision was providing value to consumers for the engagement they do on behalf of teams and musicians and brands they love. It quickly morphed into this opportunity with digital collectibles and allowing and enabling teams—we work with NBA teams and hockey teams like the Blackhawks, Knicks, Cavs, and Formula One groups like Red Bull Racing and McLaren Racing– to create digital collectibles and market those to their consumers and find engaging experiences.”
How does Sweet operate? “Brands, teams, leagues come to Sweet, and we help them take their content and their IP and turn it into digital collectibles, memorabilia, trading cards, gamified components that consumers can own and store in a blockchain wallet. We use blockchain technology to validate the authenticity of a piece of digital art or digital media. That could be a video moment from a hockey game. It could be from McLaren. For example, we took a Formula One car and we exploited it into 22 3D components. We help these brands take these to market. Consumers have this affinity for their teams and their brands, and they love to collect. It’s really akin to the collectibles industry moving into the digital world. If you’re a baseball card guy or you’ve gotten to games early and got that commemorative t-shirt, we help teams bring that into the digital world.”
Who are Sweet’s investors? We’ve raised north of $40 million. Some of our key investors are kind of a who’s who from sports and entertainment, like the Blitzer group, for example, on the sports side. Groups like World Media, more on the capital side. One of our largest investors is Animoca Brands on the NFT, Metaverse side. They’re based in Hong Kong.”
What problem is Sweet solving in the marketplace? “Our company’s creating opportunity more than solving a problem. If you think about the idea that consumers want to own and collect things from brands and teams they love. Historically, that had to be done only in a physical way. There’s a whole new world of collection and engagement that’s now happening in the digital world. We help brands kind of navigate this thorny go-to-market strategy on collectibles, digital collectibles and NFT’s. We come alongside our brand partners, our teams, and we help them go to market with compelling strategies that are fun for the consumers. They drive new revenue streams, and they also create this concept of in perpetuity royalties on collectibles that you wouldn’t see in the physical world. The idea that I can bring to market a piece of digital memorabilia, and as that changes hands over time, you can be generating revenue in perpetuity. It’s a real opportunity for teams and leagues.”
Sweet CEO and founder Tom Mizzone
How is Sweet different from its competitors? “There’s a lot of NFT platforms—non-fungible token platforms. A lot. I would say the bulk of them have focused on sort of traditional marketplaces. If you go to, for example, OpenSea, I would consider them a competitor or Crypto.com has an NFT marketplace. Most of those platforms really have focused on just listing collectibles on a one-off sale model. So, go to the website, find something that you want and buy it. Really, what we’ve done differently is creating these broad distribution models. We did a program for Macy’s where we delivered 9500 NFT’s during the live broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We did a program for OnePlus mobile phones where 10,000 tokens were claimed through an online social giveaway. The Cavs are doing venue activation, right. Think of Sweet as distinctly unique in how we can bring NFT programs to market and the flexibility of our distribution models.”
What milestones has Sweet achieved or will it soon achieve? “We expect to have close to a dozen NBA teams working on the platform very soon. We’ve got two of the largest Formula One teams, Red Bull Racing and McLaren Racing, in play. We have a massive amount of inbound deal flow in the general sports category as a whole. For milestones, it’s going to be a breakout year for Sweet in terms of revenue and in terms of what we were able to pull in. I would say the thing that we’re most proud of, though, is the gamification and how we’re allowing our brands to do unique things in this space that also drive engagement. It’s not just about revenue. It’s how do you bring your consumers and your fans into the platform in a way that is just fun and engaging, and creates other intangible aspects? For example, driving ticket sales or with Burger King, driving new box sales and restaurant restaurant traffic. We’re really proud of the milestones and the new ground that we’re breaking in terms of what NFT’s can do beyond just driving revenue for a platform.”
Users can come on to Sweet, use a standard credit card, buy digital collectibles from the Knicks and have it in a blockchain wallet and not know anything about cryptocurrency.
How is Sweet scaling? “Part of our secret sauce is the platform we built and the technology that we put into our platform. It’s a real differentiator in the space for Sweet that we’ve spent the last two-plus years building an infrastructure that allows teams to do a lot more ingenuity on a broader scale. For example, with the Cavaliers we launched a locker collection experience where the very first launch of the program was you can claim an NFT locker. We minted and distributed 100,000 lockers in a matter of days. That takes massive amounts of infrastructure and just know-how optimization and efficiencies. We built this great model and platform that allows brands to distribute these at scale. It’s very different in the space. We continue to scale based on the technology that we built, on the platform that we built, around the distribution models that take this to market.”
Besides their work with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and McLaren Racing, Sweet expects to have ‘close to a dozen NBA teams working on the platform very soon.’
Does Sweet target just in the NFT/crypto space or is this a broader audience to pursue? “It’s growing at an unbelievable rate. Every article is projecting the growth, and the market size of this space just continues to get larger. You have to make it easy. NFT’s 1.0 were very complex. You had to hook up an NFT wallet, you had to know how to buy crypto, you had to purchase in crypto, you had to fund the gas fees. One of the things we’ve done really well is making it extremely simple for a new participant to onboard. If you can buy a T-shirt online, you can buy an NFT on the Sweet platform. We put this beautiful kind of candy shell around our whole consumer experience. The way I like to explain it: Apple makes these beautiful products, aesthetically beautiful, and they’re very easy to use. But there’s a lot of complex textbook technology below it all. That’s exactly what we’ve built. Users can come on to Sweet, use a standard credit card, buy digital collectibles from the Knicks and have it in a blockchain wallet and not know anything about cryptocurrency. We’ve made that very simple. That’s ultimately where the opportunity is going to be for teams as you can embrace a broader fan base and you can get more people involved. The data shows more consumers want to do this. They want to own and collect, they want complete sets and do all these fun, gamified experiences. But it’s got to be easy. That’s Number one. Number two, there’s a growing base of crypto purists who love this technology. You want to be familiar and be able to attract a new audience to your teams, leagues and athletes. Doing that is equally as important as attracting the new participant.”
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let us know at [email protected]