Key Stats: Plei on Republic
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Plei has been selected as a “Top Deal” by KingsCrowd. This distinction is reserved for deals selected into the top 10% of our due diligence funnel. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soccer is the world’s most popular sport. A 2017 Nielsen survey found that 43 percent of respondents across 18 global markets were “interested” or “very interested” in soccer. In the US, the survey found that soccer interest is growing rapidly among younger adults.
Millions of children play soccer each year, but many Americans find that their participation ends after high school. Recreational soccer leagues exist in cities across the United States, but signing up for a league is sometimes arduous and often a major commitment; players pay high season fees for leagues to liaise with soccer facilities and organize games.
The beauty of soccer is the game’s simplicity, which contrasts the complexity of playing recreational soccer as an adult. In an era of on-demand food delivery, car rides, beauty treatments, and much more, organizing a casual soccer game ought to be just as easy.
Plei is a technology company facilitating quick and easy access to pick-up soccer games. Plei operates as a two-sided marketplace for both soccer facilities and consumers. Soccer facilities pay a monthly subscription fee to gain access to the Plei platform, an all-in-one facility management software tool that manages inventory, time tracking, and more – but most importantly allows facilities to schedule Plei games when fields are empty.
Consumers download the Plei app and browse local pick-up games to join with two clicks. Plei’s partner facilities create games based on their field’s availability, and players select games that work for their schedule and location. With two clicks, including a small fee ($7-$11), players are sent everything they need to know to show up and play.
Plei’s mission is ease for both facility partners and soccer players. Facilities would be hard-pressed to create their own pick-up game system without advertisement and program management; players struggle to find convenient games without the commitment of a full-on recreational soccer league. With Plei, both parties’ needs are met: revenue-generating games for facilities, and straightforward opportunities to play for consumers.
Plei generated $300,000 in revenue in 2019 from 9,000 app users and 1,757 games played. Plei generates revenue from several sources (in approximate order of most to least value): A) monthly subscription fees from partner facilities, B) up to 35% of revenue from each game’s player fees, C) a percentage of all credit card transactions processed through Plei (including transactions not directly related to Plei, like merchandise purchases at facilities), D) service fees to redesign facilities’ websites and implement Plei system, and E) Plei merchandise.
Plei was founded by brothers Sebastian (CEO) and Alejandro Duque (COO). Both have started ventures in the past, including a custom apparel company, a green energy company, and a health insurance agency (following in their immigrant parents’ footsteps). Sebastian holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Maryland.
The Duque brothers have bootstrapped Plei up until this point, and intend to use this raise to fuel growth in platform features and markets served.
Software features on the roadmap include machine-learning to optimize facilities’ game schedules, league and tournament management capabilities, reward programs for players, and more.
Beyond technology, Plei intends to scale to most major US markets by the end of 2020. After 2020, the company looks to go global, launching in major cities around the world.
Plei projects to serve 100,000 users by the end of 2020, hosting 7,000 games and generating over $1M in revenue.
Why We Like it
- Diverse revenue streams from a two-sided marketplace model: Plei serves both businesses (soccer facilities), and consumers (soccer players), generating revenue from both populations. Approaching this space by addressing both the systemic issue of field access via soccer facilities and players’ lack of control over pick-up games has the potential to cement Plei as the global recreational soccer infrastructure.
- Strong CAC:LTV and impact of network effects: Plei reports a customer acquisition cost of only $3.30 compared to lifetime value of $70+, driven in part by strong network effects. Many adults are already looking for recreational soccer opportunities, particularly with their similarly-athletic friends, and one user happening upon Plei has the potential to bring several other players on the app without any paid advertising. More users on the Plei app increases the likelihood of full games and drives demand for more games from soccer facilities, and increases the value of the app for new users.
- Tailwinds of health and fitness: The percentage of Americans who meet weekly exercise requirements continues to grow year over year, further evidenced by the explosion of fitness brands like SoulCycle, Peloton, and many others. Many regard game-based exercise as more fun than classes or solo workouts, and Plei pick-up soccer games are more convenient and cheaper than most exercise alternatives. As Americans (and others worldwide) continue to focus on fitness, Plei has the opportunity to become the preferred way of working out.
The Rating: Top Deal
Plei’s traction and growth given its bootstrapped status is impressive, and the company’s core business model has great promise for generating increasing revenue in years to come. At its core, Plei is a compelling concept because of its simplicity: adults want to play recreational soccer, and Plei lets them join a game in two clicks.
Plei is a unique company, and defies comparison to most companies in health and fitness or B2B SaaS. Therefore, exit opportunities are merely speculative: major soccer organizations like US Soccer or FIFA could acquire Plei to adopt its technology and passionate player network. Companies interested in growing a fitness practice (whether existing fitness players like Peloton or fitness-adjacent businesses like insurance providers or health care networks) could do the same. Alternatively, Plei could grow rapidly with a global expansion and become the worldwide name in recreational soccer, which would position it well for a public offering.
Plei’s diverse revenue streams, innovative model of connecting soccer facilities to passionate players, and initial traction with bootstrapped investment are strong signals of growth as the company expands to the broader US and beyond in coming years. Plei is positioned to become the leading recreational soccer interface for worldwide players, which makes it a Top Deal.
About: Katy dolan
Katy is a marketing and research consultant to startups (including VC-backed companies, small businesses, and advocacy movements). With experience in tech, venture capital, politics, and non-profits, Katy partners with clients to strategize and execute compelling campaigns focused on user experience and empathetic narrative. Katy graduated cum laude from Harvard College with an AB in Sociology.