Homefans Founder and CEO Luke Verbeek

This was the first edition of the Q&A, where we interview founders, investors, and executives building the future of sports.

In this interview, you’ll hear from Luke Verbeek and what he’s building alongside Daniel Velasquez at Homefans.

What are you working on at Homefans?

Homefans is a managed marketplace for local-led sports experiences — starting with soccer (93% of the marketplace’s listings currently).

This includes both multi-day trips/tours and matchday experiences with locals.

How did you get this idea? What key insight led you to pursue this opportunity?

I came up with the idea of Homefans after personal experiences as a Manchester United fan from the Netherlands. Whenever I visited Manchester with family or friends, I always felt like an outsider on match days.

We didn’t really connect with locals and didn’t know where to go. It always depended on the game and the result whether the weekend would be a highlight or not.

We had everything sorted: Tickets, accommodation, and transportation, but still, it always felt like the same sort of match day repeating itself.

This was until I started to meet local fans in Manchester who completely changed my matchday experience. It was not the match that was the highlight of the weekend, but it was meeting the locals and learning more about their personal stories and actually feeling part of the local community of fans.

We went to places we had never heard of before and it changed the typical match day experience for a more fun and memorable one, along with new friends.

How did you turn your idea into a company?

After understanding that more fans had a similar experience, I wanted to create something that would solve this need for sports fans. After I met Daniel in Manchester, we started to build the network in football (or soccer) to build the initial foundations of Homefans.

We built a really basic and simple website where we handpicked some matches and highlighted the local element of the trip.

luke verbeek and daniel velasquez

From there, we managed to get friends and family on trips to destinations throughout Europe. From clubs like Borussia Dortmund to watching the incredible rivalry between Celtic vs. Rangers in Glasgow and everyone loved it.

The locals made a difference and people actually felt more connected to a destination after they left.

We were able to raise a small crowdfunding round and attract angel investors to build on the product and started to bring more fan-led experiences to the biggest games in football.

Since then, we’ve scaled a marketplace with 95 cities around the world and several hundreds of local hosts on the platform offering their match day experiences to welcome traveling fans into their city/club.

What’s the addressable market and how do you go about capturing it?

Homefans is targeting a £240B sports tourism market.

It already has 400+ hosts across 95 destinations, but for the past 6-9 months, we have focused on building supply density in Buenos Aires, Argentina and in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The next step is to expand this playbook across the rest of LATAM, Europe, and the US.

The local host-led sports experience has the potential to expand the market, particularly for casual sports fans who don’t think of going to a match. And of course, our vision is to incorporate other sports in the equation so that the offering scales in the product range as well.

Who is your core customer? How are you acquiring them? How will you increase your customer base?

Homefans’ marketplace targets 3 types of customers:

  • Diehard fans: Fans who want to see a specific club in a specific location. They are often tourists.
  • Casual tourist fans: Casual fans who aren’t focused on a particular club, but want to have the experience of a match while they’re traveling.
  • Casual local fans: Local fans who wouldn’t normally source tickets and go to a match by themselves / with their circle of friends. The host unlocks a new experience for them.

Hosts are a mix of individual diehard fans and operators of small tour companies. The second segment has also been a strong source of referred demand as Homefans streamlines the booking experience.

Social media, branding with storytelling and paid marketing have been the most valuable channels for us to acquire customers. It has allowed us to reach tens of thousands of people and delivered a good ROI.

However, we are now building virality and network effects in our platform so we can over time acquire more hosts and customers, and grow the customer base without relying solely on a few good working channels.

We also have a great rate of returning customers, and in the destination where we’ve achieved liquidity and density, repeat purchases is now a rule, with an average of at least 3 experiences within 1 month.

What are some of the milestones you’re targeting over the next 3-6 months?

Our roadmap this year is totally focused on scaling the supply and demand in the initial sporting capitals in South America and Europe. We are testing out new growth loops and working on new partnerships.

In terms of the product range, we are keen on exploring the possibility of a special project around an athlete experience to start understanding the dynamics of new verticals.

In Q2 of 2023, we’re looking to raise a seed round. HomeFans just secured a bridge round with prominent angel investors.

Any other information you would like to share?

We’re always looking for new insights and partners to collaborate with. Our vision is to build the world’s #1 marketplace for sports experiences. And to make sports experiences accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Whether someone is interested in hosting, learning more as an investor, or even as a user – feel free to reach out to us.


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