Putting the World’s Biggest Sport on The Blockchain

by Alex Lightman and David Lightman. February 10, 2018

ICO Crowd Interviews Daniel Taylor of Stars
(Note: when you see football, we mean what Americans call soccer)

  1. What’s your professional background? After graduating from Brown University, I played professional soccer in Sweden and Greece. Up to that point, most of my professional experience was in finance, specifically at Goldman Sachs and Brightwood Capital, a mezzanine private equity firm. While playing, I leveraged these experiences, my passion for business, and my infatuation for technology to start two companies, Tipster and Only4stars. Tipster is an IOS App and Web Widget that delivers personalized style advice from vetted influencers in real time. Tipster was acquired in April 2017. Only4stars is a global football and marketing agency, that specializes in developing talent from emerging markets of football.
  2. What motivates you? What do you care about and why? Every decision I make, whether that be in my business or my personal life, has a consequence. That is something I learned very early on in my life but was reminded of the importance of such a lesson when I met Bela, our first employee’s child. In that moment I realized that my actions not only affect Bela, but they also directly affect her 6-year-old daughter. I was instantly instilled with an enormous amount of responsibility, a responsibility that I have grown to cherish as my team continues to entrust their confidence in me. As a young black entrepreneur, I have an opportunity to shape the perception and dialogue around success in the black community. This is not something I take lightly. This is my motivation.
  3. What is Stars? Why football/soccer? Stars is the first digital token in professional football. Stars Token’s mission is to create a transparent financial infrastructure capable of supporting the growth and evolution of digital currencies within the $40+billion professional football economy. As a football agency, we have found that there are many financial/operational inefficiencies within the industry, however, these are the three that seem to be some of the industry’s most significant issues: * Football is an ecosystem, that does not operate as a by-product of any single economy, but rather has ties to a diversity of countries, currencies, capital flows, and football market dynamics. The by-product of this structure is an inefficient system in terms of conducting business. * The unfortunate reality of the industry is that corruption does exist. While FIFA is doing all they can to encourage financial fair play, the system does not lead to transparency from an ownership transaction perspective. Clubs receive sponsorship, broadcasting, merchandise sales, tickets sales, and transfer fee revenue in different currencies, and at each exchange/ transaction point, the club loses money in transaction fees. Payment delays are rampant throughout the industry, which leads to a lack of trust in the system. * There are very few opportunities for the fans of the world’s #1 sport to give back to the game and engage. I’ve had colleagues, friends, fans, and superfans all express their interest in getting involved in the game or give back to their team. Fans no longer want to just be “at the game”, they want to be “in the game”.

    STARS Token addresses all three of these issues as the tentpoles of our technology are efficiency, transparency and increased engagement between football teams and their fans. Stars builds white-labelled mobile/web solutions that integrate with a team’s current web and retail tech solutions. We are leveraging augmented reality, frictionless payments, mobile ticketing, and blockchain technology to improve the fan experience, driving us to predict increases in sales revenue (25%+) and decreases (5%+) in transaction fees. The bottom line is…these are significant changes to the bottom line for both teams and fans.

  4. Who is on your team business-wise? Rob Shelc is the CTO of Stars Group IO and has been involved with the tech side of startups for the last 10 years. After graduating from RIT with a degree in Computer Science, he joined a small team at ScoreBig.com and helped the website grow from 0 to over 3 million users. He specializes in leading and managing overseas teams and architecting scalable systems.

    Bobby Markowitz is the Chief Strategy Officer of Stars Group. He is responsible for growth strategy, promotional development and sponsorship activation for the company and its clients. For the past 15 years, he has been a catalyst for the rapid growth of multiple sports & gaming tech start-ups both in North America and Europe including CBS SportsLine, Sports. com, 1UP.com and PartyPoker.

    Stars has a range of business advisor’s that add a tremendous amount of value to the company, including:
    Andrew Duplessie runs a multi-million-dollar cryptocurrency hedgefund that posted over 200% returns in 2017. He is a Venture Partner at Science Blockchain, he is an advisor at DNA fund (Brock Pierce). He is an advisor and mentor at Stanford University Startx Incubator. He has worked with over 15 ICOS that have raised over $1 billion dollars in 2017.

    Neil Fillary is General Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Shuttle, a highrisk fund that aims to get exposure in a new category of digital assets including digital currencies, distributed application tokens, decentralized autonomous organizations, smart contracts, and related assets. Formally, Neil was Managing Director for NicheFort and capital markets expert for J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank.

    Christopher Mitchell has practiced law for over the past 12 years, specializing in the digital media and technology legal landscape. Christopher started his firm out of a desire to help small businesses, entrepreneurs, and creative artists as he brings over a decade of experience to an evolving client base.

  5. Who is on your team sports-wise? George Kazianis is the Co-Founder and president of the Stars Group IO Limited. Over his 30 years in the football industry, he has built up a client list of elite coaches and well-established players. Furthermore, George is renowned and widely recognized by major football clubs, such as AFC Ajax, FC Internationale Milano, and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, for his scouting prowess, youth camps, emphasis on developing young talent and professionalism.

    Stars has an elite group of football advisors, including:
    Mario van der Ende is a former football referee with over 15 years of experience, including refereeing the Champions League and FIFA world cup. Mario has since been involved in bridging efforts to provide transparency to football and integrating referees with the global image of the sport.

    Hristo Stoichkov is an ex-professional football legend with decades of experience as both a player, manager and commentator; having played for the likes of FC Barcelona, CSKA Sofia, Chicago Fire and DC United. Hristo’s decades of success and global international presence bring an expertise that is unparalleled by most within the football industry.

    Ian Stafford is a multiple award-winning sportswriter, author, broadcaster, speaker and sports media company director. He has covered every major sporting event globally for the past 25 years, interviewed most of the world’s top sports stars over the same period of time and has written for many of the UK’s national newspapers and national and international magazines.

  6. How much are you seeking to raise in your ICO? Our soft cap is $15 million, and our hard cap is $51 Million.
  7. What is your plan? For the first 6 months, our goal is to Beta test our web and mobile products within professional football clubs and sports tech companies. By the start of the 2018-2019 season, we will roll out our full white-labelled software solutions to our club partners around the world. We are the one-stop shop technical solution, providing transparency and cost savings for the consumers, and an increase in revenue for the teams. Contingent upon the successful implementation of STARS token for fan use, we plan on exploring its use as a currency that facilitates player transfer fees between clubs.
  8. What’s the schedule for the ICO? Our pre-sale ends on February 2nd. Our public sale begins on February 5th and ends March 2nd.
  9. Can you give us an idea of the kind of people who are participating in the Stars ICO? We’ve had venture capital funds, crypto funds, high net worth individuals, sports team owners and soccer fans from 23 different countries participate thus far. Notably, the STARS has been incubated by Shuttle Fund, a U.K. based venture capital firm. Shuttle is our venture partner for our ICO and we’re excited to work with them as our business scales.
  10. It’s early in the process and you’ve had some success. What are some lessons you’ve learned and can share with others who want to launch coins and tokens? First, take your time and do things the right way. Unfortunately, there are many companies and individuals rushing into the cryptocurrency space with just a website and a white paper they wrote in a day. They are simply chasing the money. We went through 30 drafts of our white paper and numerous alterations of our website, and continue to challenge ourselves to develop our product, brand, and community that represents our core values and beliefs. Second, build and maintain relationships. The crypto community is growing rapidly but the community of seasoned experts and investors is small. Third, make sure you explore all options. A token sale may not be the right move for every company, and within a token sale there are multiple paths of opportunity. Aim to be flexible, adaptable, nimble and wise.
  11. I understand you are starting a podcast. What motivates you to do that? The purpose of the podcast is to create a resource for the black community and allies of the black community to learn about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. We need a resource where newcomers can seek support and hear the stories of people that they can relate to. Unfortunately, the black community in tech is small, but we do exist, and we are changing the world, and I want more people to know that.

    Whether you have $10 or $10,000, I want our community to get smart, get educated, and get active because we’re in the process of seeing the largest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen, and we should be participating in it.

    An ICO is a brilliant “new” structure that enables people to gain access to new sources of capital and financing. If we can create a call to action for the brilliant minds within our black communities around the world, we can leverage this structure to tangibly effect change.

  12. How does being African American alter your perspective, if it does? I have a responsibility to show that the “black identity” is not just defined by our incarceration numbers, and that we are leaders in our fields and communities, striving towards brilliance and change.
  13. Do we as the crypto community need to increase our efforts to include black people in crypto? Why? How? Yes absolutely. We need to create a call to action for the black community to leverage blockchain for the betterment of our communities. How do we do this? Education, awareness, reducing the fear of new technology and sharing a solid game plan on how to get started and succeed.
  14. I understand you have relatives that work in finance. What do they think of you working in crypto? My family has always been extremely supportive of me. At first, they had trouble understanding it, but as they have followed my journey within the blockchain space, they’ve grown to see its benefits and the potential implications.
  15. What do you think the impact of crypto on Wall Street will be? As the Harvard Business Review said, the blockchain will do to the financial system what the internet did to media. And just as media companies have done, they will either adapt or fail. I believe the key driving factor behind blockchain and the internet is this idea of decentralization. Many of the media companies that emerged successful in the internet era were those that were willing to adopt this idea of decentralization in the form of User Generated Content.

    Take Facebook for example, arguably the most powerful “media” company in the world. All Facebook did was create a platform which allowed users to provide whatever content they best see fit. In fact, Facebook hardly ever owns the content that it puts out. I think that with blockchain the institutions that are willing to accept and adopt this notion of decentralization by giving the control back to its consumers in one way or another will be the ones who emerge victorious from this new age.

  16. Returning to Stars, who would Stars like to partner with? Stars would like to partner with professional football clubs, football federations, FIFA, UEFA, and digital media companies. Furthermore, we have already started working with multiple blockchain companies in the augmented reality, entertainment, identity and ticketing space.
  17. What will Stars do with the funds you raise via your ICO? Our number one priority is creating opportunities and use cases for STARS Tokens. With this at the forefront, we will be using the funds in 4 ways.

    Above all, the first form of investment will take place through hiring and onboarding more talent. The reality is we are a small team with an incredibly large vision, and while we are a dedicated group ready to take action in changing the game of football we need more people with similar passions to help us bring this vision to its fullest potential.
    Occurring somewhat simultaneously will be a stringent focus on the development and betterment of the Stars Platform. This focus will include the likes of implementing Augmented Reality, improving the UI & UX, and developing + promoting a contest that will run throughout the World Cup in which the prizes awarded each day are STARS Tokens.

    The third form of investment will take place through the acquisition and partnership of professional football clubs throughout Europe. This process will be pivotal in proliferating the widespread use of STARS Tokens. As we gain ownership stakes in clubs we will be able to immediately implement the Stars Platform and token technology.
    Our fourth and final investment ties heavily into our hiring strategy whereas we will develop and support a dedicated sales and marketing team to push the Stars Platform out to consumers. Our sales team will be largely focused on licensing out our white labelled version of the platform whereas STARS Tokens remain at the forefront of our technology.

    The underlying strategy behind our investments is to create additional ways in which STARS Tokens can be used, increasing cost savings and adding transparency to the world of football.

  18. What do you think will happen to crypto in 2018? I believe the market cap for cryptocurrencies will break 1 trillion prior to the end of 2018. Though the market cap has grown at an exponential rate over the last 6 months, the asset class is still comparatively small. We will continue to see governing bodies improve the regulatory structures around ICO’s and cryptocurrencies, and as they do, institutional investors will begin to engage with this growing market. I believe cryptocurrencies will reach 10 trillion in market cap in the next 5 to 10 years.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to ICO Crowd, Daniel. We appreciate you and wish you luck with Stars and your community outreach!

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