Steve Stein, CEO at Xmanna tells us about sports fan engagement.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Steve Stein: We tried to cope with the pandemic best possible way we could.
Everyone had to adapt and make changes, and so did we as a family. Thank god we are all alive and well, plus the pandemic caused us to spend much more time together, and actually, we grew stronger as a family during these times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Xmanna?
Steve Stein: I started my career in the finance sector managing a few hedge funds, mainly in Europe, but I always felt like I was not in the right place for me until I made the transfer to tech companies where I met my business partner Gabi. We started off as two guys in the basement talking about gamification and sports loyalty programs and how these two elements can combine and create a new ecosystem. Our first deal was in Israel with the Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball team, and within 2 years, we managed to triple their fan base and increase engagement with the gamefaction element. From this point, the path was clear and led us to this point that we are on the verge of a new era in the sports ecosystem.
We never used investors and any fundraising; we brought the initial investment from home and made sure to keep the company “close to our hearts”.
How does Xmanna innovate?
Steve Stein: By thinking about where the market will be in the future and not where it is now. We always look at future berries that might come up while understanding the psychology behind them in order by ready with a product and a solution and basically trying to build the future today. The second piece in this puzzle is good partners on our site that will help us leverage our vision to the mass users. The partnership with Inter Miami is a big milestone for XAMANA, with many more to come in the near future.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Steve Stein: It did not affect us in the financial aspect, but we had to make some big adjustments in the way we work and handle our employees; the pandemic made us a fully decentralized company that almost all of the employees are working remotely in different locations around the world, for example, one of our top developers is in Kenya at the moment, and I have to say that this working fantastic for XMANNA and in my opinion the key element for every startup is to learn how to adapt to the current reality of the market and adjust herself accordingly in order to hold on to her most valuable assets which are the people we work with.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Steve Stein: Yes, of course, we learned that leaders are born and are not being taught and can also raise in the least expected moments from people that are not necessarily in key positions. We as a company have to see it and track those leaders that will take us to the next level. This is why we value every employee’s opinion in our company, and we will keep doing so as we grow and expand.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Steve Stein: As a small startup company, we started with Hubspot and Monday, and we always expand our abilities with inhouse solutions and tools because we see our customer relationship as a top priority in our company, and we use every tool possible to build and segment our database so can we approach each user on a personal level with the relevant information that he cares about.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Steve Stein: The Covid did not affect our business model, which is focused on the metaverse, so we did not have to use any grant from the government
Your final thoughts?
Steve Stein: I think that ultimately the migration from web 2.0 to 3.0 will catch a lot of companies off guard since it is almost impossible to do it and will have to be made from scratch all over again like a whole new ecosystem of online activity that will create a new user experience
XMANNA gives this opportunity automatically to any user or retailer without having to know how to work in the complex world of crypto and NFT. In my opinion, a company that will be late to adopt this technology is taking a big risk in becoming the next blockbuster.