Launchpool Labs Founder Spotlight

Interview with Megafans Founder & CEO, Jeff Donnelley

Welcome to the Founder Spotlight series, where we interview Founders from the projects we incubate at Launchpool Labs. What to expect: fun stories, founder journey, the team, vision, mission, goals, and what’s in the works. None of the information shared is financial advice, and should not be treated as such.

Megafans is a play-to-earn multiplayer tournament platform that lets mobile games players compete with others around the world for prizes. MegaFans is all about bringing out the inner gamer in all of its users, whether they’re novices, experts or developers. MegaFans’ mission is to build the world’s first mobile esports gaming community, using blockchain NFTs and crypto in a play-to-earn environment.

The 3rd incubee in Launchpool Labs’ inaugural incubator class of five startups to go live and take part in the 3-month program — and we announced them just last week (20th of August 2021). Currently, Megafans is raising pre-seed ($100k), available exclusively to investors part of the Launchpool Labs Bronze Club. Enjoy this interview with the CEO and Founder, Jeff Donnelley.

Roxana: Hi, Jeff. We are very excited to have you and your team at Megafans be the 3rd project to star in our incubator. Please tell us a little about yourself, how you met your team, and how Megafans came to be. Why “eSports for All”?

Jeff: Thank you Roxana. We are excited to be part of Launchpool Labs incubator. I have been building gaming companies using the User acquisition, conversion and retention funnel for 22 years. I built two advertising, marketing and media agencies during that time and had the honor of working with world class brands such as Ubisoft and Draft Kings. I decided to strike out on my own in 2016 and conducted deep market studies until I discovered this opportunity which still has a huge gap in the industry, where you have the largest single pool of players, 2.8 billion DAUs, that are extremely underserved. This is a dichotomy of the mobile gaming space and the eSports space, where no one has successfully built a significant community but, there are more people playing in this market at any minute of the day compared to all the other gaming markets combined. So, I want to bring eSports to All in the mobile gaming space and build the world’s largest community of players and collectors.

I met Colin Bracey at a mobile gaming trade event in San Francisco in 2018. He co-founded a competitive mobile eSports platform that used a sweepstakes model. I actually worked with his company as a marketing consultant and they were on a path to success in 2018 with a successful ICO when, unfortunately, his partner made some bad decisions and left their team in the lurch. So, we decided to move the team to MegaFans in 2019 and took our prototype to market and tested it globally for a year, using market feedback and optimizing our gaming system to what we have today.

Roxana: What makes you really proud about your team? Can you share some funny habits / stories / hobbies that your team members have?

Jeff: Our team and advisors are made up from some of the smartest people in the gaming industry that I have ever met. These are experts in mobile, PC, console games, iGaming, Fantasy Sports and of course, eSports. Colin and I have worked with each team member on past projects so the trust is already embedded in the group. Colin himself has worked on three blockchain projects and I have been a crypto hodler since 2016.

Our team knows how to navigate the marketplace and can solve any problem we face, probably faster and more efficiently than any other group I have worked with. I like to call us the ‘A Team’ of gaming and we do have a Mr. T in the group! We have met up in Prague, Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco — I won’t tell any stories but let’s just say the pranks don’t stop coming!

Roxana: Name 3 things you absolutely love about your industry, and 3 things you absolutely dislike (I assume this is what made you launch Megafans).

Jeff: That’s easy. I love the fact that the gaming and blockchain markets are on the forefront, creating new market opportunities such as Dex, NFTs and farming cryptocurrencies plus the way we chat and interact through gaming. Then there are 500 million new users from every corner of the planet coming online over the next three years and 90% of them will have their first digital experience on a mobile device. This space is set for explosive growth and the fuse is already lit. The three things I don’t like are on the gaming side of the equation: I don’t like the fact that women gamers are under-represented although they make up more than 55% of the mobile gaming market. I also don’t like that eSports has been an elitist market solely focused on PC and Console games which really makes that a first world tier-one only marketplace. What about all the aspiring gamers in fringe regions that are coming online for the first time? I believe everyone should have an equal opportunity to play and win and have fun. The last thing I do and don’t like is when people tell me that I can’t build a community around mobile eSports and blockchain, even though they are two of the fastest growing industries on the planet and both are going to change the way we function in the future, which probably includes a metaverse!

Roxana: What has been done so far? I know it’s early on to mention partnerships, so please focus on the product journey so far. Lessons learned, exciting things that happened, which are worth mentioning.

Jeff: The first big lesson is don’t assume anything and the second lesson is to question everything. We made several hypotheses about the market, players, behaviour, and many variables in the players journey. I built a business plan with a SWOT analysis in 2017 and a prototype in 2018. In 2019–20, we tested multiple variations live in markets across the world and used a constant market feedback loop which is documented in case studies, to iterate the product and remove friction from the user experience. We matured the features to incorporate a proprietary advertising feed and high security transaction system using tokens, which are both included in our patent. In 2021 we finally introduced the community phase which we want to build out with the Launchpool Labs team and community. We have a gamified system which will incorporate a play-to-earn environment that we are building to test during the incubation program.

Roxana: What protocols are you most excited about, and why?

Jeff: The ERC20 smart contracts and ERC721 lend greatly to what we are executing with our play-to-earn NFTs. Also, the decentralized aspect of the greater metaverse works perfect for games with characters or other attributes that can be minted into NFTs and used for additional currency which aligns with native gaming community eco-systems.

Roxana: Where do you need most help from our Launchpool & Labs community? Don’t be shy about sharing.

Jeff: Community building — We are just starting this initiative. That also goes hand in hand with social media channel management for Telegram, Discord, Twitch, marketing management and influencers. Secondly, I am always looking for additional experienced leadership in mobile, gaming, eSports and blockchain.

Roxana: Are you planning to launch any perks and exclusive community deals prior to going live with the MegaFans metaverse mobile games? If yes, tell us more about it, and how the community can get involved.

Jeff: Yes! We are planning to roll out multiple tournaments and community building challenges with prize pools that include crypto and NFTs. We will announce private tournaments and challenges exclusively for the Launchpool community in the coming few weeks. So watch our LPL group chat channels for more information.

Roxana: Let’s talk about funding. What happens once the pre-seed and seed raises are complete? What is next in the books for Megafans: private raise, pre-IDO etc? Walk us through how the funds will be used, and how the company was funded prior to joining Launchpool Labs.

Jeff: Prior to Launchpool Labs, we were self funded within our group and from industry associates and a bank reserve. The use of funds from the community is laid out clearly in our pitch deck and includes adding new games, tournaments, prize pools, marketing and community building, product improvements and optimization of the user acquisition, conversion and retention, staff, management and legal fees. Our current goals are 10+ new games, 2 million installs and 200k MAUs in 12–18 months.

Roxana: How important is the community aspect in your industry? Why?

Jeff: Community is everything for traditional gaming and should be the same for mobile eSports. Psychology tells us that humans need community for self worth through recognition and sharing. Add blockchain prizes to games and it will trigger one other human need which is to compete and win both for recognition and for perception of self worth. I know this to be true after working with iGaming, DFS and eSports companies throughout my career.

Roxana: What made you want to work with us? We believe that startups choose their incubation partners just as much as incubators choose their cohort stars.

Jeff: After you, Roxana, introduced me to the concept of Launchpool Labs and told me that your primary focus is on communities, I knew immediately this was the right group to collaborate with and build something of real value.

Roxana: Where from here? Tell us a bit about your future product roadmap, highlights, if there is anything available at this point.

Jeff: Oh yeah, our global plan is to create the largest community of gamers and collectors in history with 100 games in 200 countries, 100 million installs and 2 million DAUs. We want to incorporate our eSports system into AAA mobile games and cross platform to PC with global events and multi-million dollar value prizes.

Roxana: Where can we find you, on the web? Please also share any bragging rights.

Jeff: There are a few ways to connect:

email: Jeff@megafans.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreydonnelley/

Medium: https://medium.com/@jdonnelleyca

As far as bragging, I helped build Draft Kings from prototype to their first $1billion dollar valuation and its market cap is over $21 USD billion today.

Roxana: Thank you for your time, Jeff, looking forward to working with you and the Launchpool Labs community for the next 3 months.

About Megafans

MegaFans is a play-to-earn multiplayer tournament platform that lets users play mobile games and compete with people around the world to earn prizes. Whether you are a novice or expert player or developer, MegaFans is about bringing out the gamer in you!

MegaFans is breaking down barriers for independent game developers and game studios, allowing them to expose and test their games to a global audience with fun and friendly mobile competitions for casual gamers who choose to play just for fun and points or, level up and go for big prizes in one of our experiential daily and weekly tournaments which are held globally. Join the Megafans metaverse!

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