Founder Alan Jaime Misrahi grew up playing football and eventually played in Mexico’s third division. While he hasn’t necessarily made it to the “big leagues” the sport does, his new company Draftea wants to win over the 350 million sports fans in Latin America, Jaime Misrahi told BestFitnessBands in an interview.
Draftea, which calls itself the first daily fantasy sports company in Spanish-speaking Latin America, came out of stealth mode today after a $13.2 million fundraiser led by Kaszek that included Sequoia, Bullpen and Nigel Eccles, founder and former CEO of sports betting giant FanDuel. Eccles chairs the board of directors at Draftea.
The investment marks Sequoia’s first in a company headquartered in Mexico, six months after the venture capital firm announced plans opportunities in Latin America.
Draftea’s app charges sports fans a fee to line up a lineup of players and compete to win daily cash prizes. The platform, which is currently in private beta mode, will launch sometime in the first quarter of this year. It will host Mexican fantasy football games first, though Jaime Misrahi said the company aims to eventually add offerings until it hosts fantasy games for “every sport in the world.”
“If you think of a region where football is almost a religion, where people gather for sports-related activities, where stadiums are packed, where people enjoy [sports] like a family tradition, where people talk in different WhatsApp groups about sports and fantasy – we want to bring that all together,” said Jaime Misrahi of Latin America.
While sports betting platforms like Costa Rica’s Betcris are already popular in the region, Jaime Misrahi said Draftea is a relatively “much more social platform.” It also differentiates itself by offering daily games and interactions as opposed to the less frequent games hosted by seasonal fantasy platforms which tend to reflect real sports schedules.
In addition to Jaime Misrahi, the core team includes Alejandra Lascurain, former head of product at Mexico’s largest neobank; Miguel Gutiérrez-Barquín, who previously led the growth at Rappi; Joe Cohen, former chief of engineering at Vercel; and Andreas Assad, who worked at EA Sports. Draftea has a total of 34 employees today and plans to double in size in all key areas in the coming months, Jaime Misrahi said.
The team is looking ahead to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in November, which is expected to be the biggest live sporting event in the world this year.
“Our goal is to have a great product by then, launched in many countries in Latin America, and to have hundreds, if not thousands, or millions of users involved with our platform,” said Jaime Misrahi.
Sequoia’s Konstantine Buhler met Jaime Misrahi through a mutual connection at Stanford, where Jaime Misrahi completed his MBA last year. Buhler led Sequoia’s investment in Draftea, in part because he felt Jaime Misrahi exemplifies “founder-market fit” because of his passion for sports and experience as a professional soccer player, Buhler told BestFitnessBands in an email.
“It all comes down to customer love,” Buhler wrote. “Draftea is a unique community for sports fans in LatAm, where they can become the protagonists of their favorite games. We believe that Alan and his team will quickly win the hearts of the fans in Mexico and then expand to other countries in time for the World Cup.”