A Q&A with the Fame Media Tech Founder
Sport, hospitality and the visitor economy have all suffered from customer and fan isolation during COVID-19 and need to think differently about how they can introduce and enhance digital experiences to create engagement and improve customer loyalty.
To address this opportunity Fame Media Tech is building n-gage.io. A highly customisable and configurable technology platform which when combined with storytelling and innovation in digital media, positively influences behaviour, enhances engagement and improves loyalty.
Earlier this month, we spoke with Fame Media Tech CEO and Founder Bryan Hoare to take a closer look at their plans and the upcoming investment opportunity launching on GCV’s Co-investment platform.
Q: For somebody reading about Fame Media Tech for the first time, how would you describe what the mission of the business is?
A: Bryan Hoare: Fame Media Tech is a Software as a Service business with our core service offering in media-tech. We specialise in transforming experiences through technology.
Ultimately what we’re aiming to do is to harness the power of technology to positively influence behaviour, but more importantly increase customer loyalty.
So what we’ve done is we’ve developed a blueprint for a mobile optimised platform which we’ve branded n-gage-io. We’ve done this partly in line with Innovate UK’s Audience of the Future Programme, where storytellers and technology companies are really starting to come together to explore and pioneer cutting edge immersive experiences.
We’re using this platform as the basis to begin positively influencing behaviour through storytelling, but combining that with innovation in digital media and mobile technology, to really captivate and engage audiences, but ultimately, to create more loyal and engaged fans or customers and visitors for our clients.
The platform is going to take all of the functionality that we already see in some basic mobile customer and visitor applications but enhance it even further with the likes of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, chat technology and best-in-class scanning capability to trigger activation.
Q: What would examples of this be in the Football and Visitor Attractions markets?
A: Bryan Hoare: Let’s say you are walking up to the ground in St James’ Park Newcastle, you’ll come up to the wonderful statue of Sir Bobby Robson that many fans will walk past at every home game.
So imagine using our experience, you’ll be able to walk up to that statue and using your phone to scan, the statue really comes to life in an augmented reality way – and Sir Bobby starts having some really interesting conversations with you about the heritage of the club, what it means to the local community in the North East of England, and more importantly the power of you as a fan and what you’re doing by being at the game to support the club itself.
Within that you might start to receive some other interesting facts and information on match day, or even some special offers through the experience.
Imagine then moving on from that statue and walking into the terraces in the stadium, and then you’re faced with a range of things you can scan with your mobile phone, and this is all about creating interaction before the match, as there’s a lot of experiences that are out there at the moment that do a lot about the game itself and when it actually starts but what about all that content that we can create before the game and more importantly after the game.
So again imagine scanning something else within the stadium and up comes a product called FanBox – FanBox is something we’re creating now which is a digital memory solution for football fans which allows you store some of your favourite memories and share them with friends and family.
And that’s all about this intergenerational conversation between families about how important it is to support your local team. So really we’re creating these immersive experiences through a tech platform that’s activated on mobile devices.
Away from the football sector, let’s imagine that you’re taking your young family to a visitor attraction such as Sea Life for example.
These attractions do a great job of providing information, especially from an educational standpoint when you’re there, but so much more can be done with immersive technology.
So for example, if you’re walking through the aquarium and you’re faced with a tank of fish, imagine putting your phone against something that activates an interaction through our experience and suddenly you can have a conversation with a fish in the tank which your young children can interact and learn with.
Whether that’s “do you know I have three hearts” or “I can change colour to suit my background”, these are all amazing things that technology can offer and create more of a deeper immersive experience.
You can’t get that at these types of centres at the moment, but we know that they’re pioneering that type of technology because we’ve spoken with some of them. We’re having some fantastic conversations with these centres about how we can use that type of technology and bring experiences to life, not just while you’re at these attractions or grounds, but whilst you’re not there.
Obviously we’ve seen with Covid-19 the impact it’s had on visitor attractions, football clubs, retail outlets and hospitality outlets when they’ve been devoid of their customer base. So what we can do through these experiential concepts is we can improve visitor and customer loyalty by interacting with our clients’ customer base when we’re not actually on site.
Q: What are the key problems facing these markets that you’ve mentioned?
A: Bryan Hoare: Covid-19 has placed exceptional demand on businesses to improve their audience and customer engagement strategies, and most businesses have found themselves falling short of this because they haven’t been allowed to have their customers on site, whether that’s football clubs, theme parks, attractions, and also towns and city centres.
Even in local authorities now councillors are not only wondering where the business rates are going to come from but who is going to be visiting the high street going forward with the absence of these big name retailers.
We’ve already had issues with out-of-town retailers and online shopping taking precedence, and whilst I’m not suggesting Fame Media Tech is the ultimate solution to that, we can play a part in creating immersive experiences and really working with local authorities and developers to try and bring something into town and city centres that attracts footfall, maybe linked in more with that hospitality sector that could be more prevalent gong forward.
Another problem we face is that customer, fan, visitor and guest expectations are really changing now. We expect more from the experiences that we see on our mobile devices and we’re using our phones now more than ever before.
In the pandemic for example, how many more people have used zoom? Across all generations there’s a higher level of technology acceptance now than there has ever been before.
An interesting recent report by Ericsson found that video content is now representing 63% of all mobile traffic, and is set to grow to 76% by 2025.
Part of the problem in the market is a lot of these existing experiences strive to increase engagement, but they’re not using the right types of technology, and they’re certainly in many cases lacking, what we think, is content innovation such as storytelling to try and draw people into an experience, and that’s ultimately allowed them to fall short of meeting customer and client expectations.
So really there’s a lot of issues in these markets, businesses need to be better prepared to advance their communication and technology, particularly post pandemic.
Q: How does Fame Media Tech address this problem?
A: Bryan Hoare: Our unique combination of consultancy, media expertise and approach to tech developments is going to be a real competitive advantage.
We have the technology platforms and we’ve got that media expertise (so that’s access to media and content and understanding how to stitch all that together in a way that we can tell stories).
We’re developing what we call a Platform as a Service solution, so that a platform can be taken very cost-effectively by a customer and we can work with them with consultancy and a partnership to then develop that platform for their own purposes, to deliver the ultimate experience, and then to work with them over a period of time.
So if I just explain the n-gage.io platform in a little more detail – it’s a highly customisable and configurable technology platform, think of it as a vehicle for our content, for that storytelling piece and for that media piece.
The technology is really going to be at the heart of each project but it will still be highly customisable and will integrate with a range of other third party applications.
As the platform grows, we want the ability to plug-and-play so we’ll be working with partners where it’s relevant to plug in the latest technology module that might specialise in augmented reality for example, and if that technology element moves on we want to be able to move on with the times and bring that into the experience and mobilise it really quickly.
Plug-and-play element is very important to us, however the base platform as far as the customer is concerned, will have a fully integrated management system, and that will include intelligent data analysis and reporting, so that everything we do can be captured and everything you do as a user of the experience can be captured because really what we’re doing is building a profile of how the customer uses that experience and we’re building up the data on the back of that.
We understand as a business what drives human behaviour, and there is a bit of science and psychology in this, but we use human emotion to help enhance the overall experience and really enhance the experience going forward.
With digital media, we’re actually in the process of developing a global visual content service at the moment which is already starting to curate content to some global mobile network operators, and we’re doing that and delivering that to them both directly and through third parties.
Bringing those two things together- the n-gage.io platform and our media expertise creates really the ultimate experience, and that’s the third area of what we do what we call activators within the module but we’ve got some standard feature sets within n-gage.io which include smart scan technology, messaging systems, interactive polls and surveys, the augmented reality module and an offers and incentives platform.
Q: Given the different sized markets Fame Media Tech is targeting, what opportunities does this present?
A: Bryan Hoare: There’s over 5,500 visitor attractions in England alone, and so if we can target 1% of that marketplace that could generate annual recurring revenues for us of around £3 million predominantly from the platform and the recurring licence fees that come with the usage of that.
Another vertical that we’re looking to target is the football industry – fan loyalty has been an issue for football clubs quite some time regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic, and clubs are now having to think about how they can create more loyal and engaged fans especially when results don’t always go well on the pitch, those disappointing results often having a direct effect on fan loyalty.
There’re around 950 football clubs in the European Leagues, and so if we target a relatively small percentage of those, £4 million pounds of revenue can be generated in platform licence fees, consultancy work, and also ongoing club activations.
And then we’ve highlighted the issues of retail that towns and city centres have now, particularly local authorities, about how they can create engagement and increase footfall.
Again we’re looking at ways in which we can work with local authorities to deliver experiences , and really its the Business Improvement Districts that have the challenge because the people that make them up are actually the retailers themselves so we’re talking to those now about how we can enhance city centres to improve the retail and hospitality offer.
We are also looking to work with developers so that when they start to plan schemes from the outset we can look at if we can put our technology offer in from the very start that may stitch together the hospitality offer, the retail offer, and maybe anything else that we’ve got going on in that particular area.
Q: How does the experience and skill set of the team at Fame Media Tech match your plans?
A: Bryan Hoare: There’s myself as Founder and CEO and I’ve got 20+ years in marketing and media, having previously co-founded a regional media business.
We’ve also got Kate Dearlove who’s on the board as Director of Media and Content. Kate’s got a fantastic background of 25+ years experience in the global media industry, she’s worked for the likes of Getty Images and founded Real Time Images, which is a content agency specialising in digital media for mobile devices.
Our brand ambassador is Grammy nominated, award winning and internationally acclaimed songwriter and record producer David Courtney and he’s been with us from the very start.
David has sold over 33 million records worldwide and worked with countless big names such as Sir Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey and others. David ‘s got a fantastic contact network in film, TV and sport so he’s opening up some fantastic doors for us, but he’s also got a unique trademark, and it’s a trademark to the term ‘Walk of Fame’.
So David, through his own business, has the trademark and we’re working with him now to exploit that trademark across a number of our own experiences. We’ve created a few joint ventures already. We have the Football Walk of Fame Experience in Manchester which is actually located in Cathedral Gardens, right next to the National Football Museum that attracts 44 million footfall annually.
Finally we have Interim Chairman, Craig Peterson of Growth Capital Ventures with 25 years+ experience supporting growing businesses.
Craig is an approved person with the Financial Conduct Authority (CF1 / CF10/ CF30). He holds an MBA (Enterprise) and is Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
We’ve had some fantastic support from Growth Capital Ventures from the start and we’re really excited about working with the entire team at GCV going forward to really grow this dynamic.
Q: What would you say is Fame Media Tech’s USP?
A: Bryan Hoare: We do what it says on the tin with the company name really. Fame Media Tech, those are the three key elements to what we offer.
I’ve explained a lot about the media expertise but the fame element, first and foremost, that comes from us being able to utilise this unique trademark through David Courtney, and actually use that trademark in some of our own experiences that we are developing, but to also offer that opportunity to some of our customers and clients where it’s relevant.
We’re having some conversations for example in some football clubs saying “wouldn’t it be good to create a club Walk of Fame?” and part of this is fan loyalty pieces that would mean instead of just recognising players on the pitch, why aren’t we recognising the number of appearances that fans have had when they’ve been attending games, recognising the fans as much as we do the team and players, so there’s some really interesting conversations going on there.
The media side and commercial expertise on the board is with myself and Kate, we have a lot of experience in the media marketplace, but we’ve got that commercialisation experience as well.
So when it comes to talking to our customers about how we’re going to commercialise their experience we have that background and knowledge as well.
On the tech side, well we’re developing n-gage.io the platform as a service solution, and that tech piece is what is going to really bring this offer to life, delivering this experience through a mobile device which will ultimately offer benefits to you as the user and our clients also.
Q: What are the key achievements to date?
A: Bryan Hoare: We’ve done some early scoping of product development and proof of concepts, in fact we’ve got another experience that we’ve put together with David which is a cultural attraction that runs the length of Brighton Palace Pier, and that is a Music Walk of Fame to recognise the many famous artists that have come out of Brighton and Sussex.
That itself is an interactive mobile experience, so we tried out some early-stage technology with that and actually created an app which is available to download on the App Store and through Google. So really just starting to test the market in that respect and we’re using some of that knowledge that we’ve gained to activate the football experience in Manchester.
We’ve had some great early engagement with target clients, both in the visitor attraction vertical that I mentioned and in football and local authorities. We’re talking to at least three London Boroughs at the moment around bringing in physical experiences into a particular area, some of which are involved with mixed-use developments as well so we’ve got developers interested in what we’re doing.
We’ve also got an initial pipeline and we are in an early revenue generating position, so through some of those basic mobile content experiences that I explained before, we’re starting to see some revenue created by mobile networks not only in this country but overseas as well – technically we’re going global from the get go, and this is allowing us to access to some really interesting markets.
Q: Who are your existing customers and those that you are engaged with?
A: Bryan Hoare: The Brighton Palace Pier and Manchester Football Walk of Fame, they’re involved in our existing experiences that are trialling and piloting.
We also delivered a great experience for Weston Homes, a mixed-use developer, they bought Denham Film studios down in Buckinghamshire, a very famous film studio responsible for recording the music scores for the likes of Star Wars and others.
We put a physical Denham Studios Walk of Fame down there which is digitally interactive, so through your mobile phone you can scan the experience in plaques on the ground around the site and then find out more about the wonderful heritage and history of Denham Film Studios.
So in terms of the community that’s now living down there and visitors that go there, they can interact and understand some of the wonderful history and heritage of the film studio itself.
If you were to lift that process and drop that into something like, let’s say the National Trust, who we would love to have a conversation with, what sort of experience could we create with a mobile device for people that are visiting these wonderful properties throughout the UK, how could we deepen engagement and really drive on that heritage focus?
So we’ve already tested the waters with a lot of these ideas and concepts already. Through some of our content channel work, we’re already working with some global network operators and that’s fantastic to get some really big brands on board from the beginning. As that technology piece develops, we can incorporate some of our own experience platforms into some of those subscription models that we already have working there.
Then in terms of engagement with businesses, we have some local authorities we’re developing ideas and concepts with, we’re already talking to football clubs, cricket clubs and some interesting clubs in Rugby League around fan engagement and loyalty, so we’re looking to extend that out very shortly.
And then also we’re looking at some really big hospitality brands such as Greene King for example, who’ve been really affected by the pandemic – what could we do with a huge chain like that where we can really create and experience with the brand, not only when they’re on-site but when they’re away from site as well, so there’s some really great work going on there.
Q: How will the business generate revenue and what are those streams?
A: Bryan Hoare: We’re looking at three key parts of the business in terms of revenue generation. The first area is consultancy, whether it’s a visitor attraction or a football club there needs to be that consultancy focus where we sit down and understand their current position, and that’s all part of scoping the platform and identifying the work that we need to do in order to really give them the bespoke solution back using the n-gage.io platform as a base.
So there’s consultancy revenue coming through, and then of course we’ve got to configure and set up that platform for its use, so there are setup and configuration fees.
Then the recurring annual fees come from our platform licence, so as our customers start to use that platform with their own customers and visitors there’s an annual licence platform fee which is fixed for a period of time, that may well increase as well as we deepen the partnership and bring future sets to the base platform itself, but obviously that’s giving us a good annual recurring revenue stream.
Q: When the funding round closes to investors, how will the funds be used?
A: Bryan Hoare: Obviously it goes without saying the initial investment is product development so it’s the build of the n-gage.io platform to start to propagate those feature sets that I mentioned, there’s also a small amount in there for team and business development that we’re going to need to going forward.
Coming Soon – Fame Media Tech – SEIS Eligible Investment Opportunity
Targeting 13.7x money on money return (capital at risk, returns not guaranteed).
Launching on Growth Capital Ventures co-investment platform in December 2020, this SEIS investment opportunity is anticipated to attract many investors looking to take advantage of the generous tax breaks offered by the Government backed SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) (up to 64% tax relief).
Investors are encouraged to register their interest for this upcoming investment opportunity to secure their participation in this fund raise.
Register Interest: Upcoming SEIS-Eligible Investment Opportunity
For more information and key highlights on:
- Fame Media Tech’s achievements and progress to date .
- How Fame Media Tech are transforming the visitor, fan and customer experience.
- Future growth plans.
- Proposed exit strategy and target investor returns.