ExploreInsights

The Brag House

11 Followers

About

Brag House is the first vertically integrated social network for college students and beyond who casually game. Fueled by the fanaticism of the collegiate community, Brag House leverages their network to organize competitive play for passionate, non-professional gamers and is the ONLY one to offer both a fan and gamer experience focused exclusively on the college market.

Insider experiences

How do you keep learning at The Brag House?

Collaboration is key. Utilizing the world-class team at Brag House is highly encouraged and I always feel like I have SME's to help educate me in their lane of the business. Whether I am having a 1-on-1, or just shooting over a quick message, I feel confident that my team will always work to improve each other and the business as a whole.

What’s your favorite thing about working at The Brag House?

The skills that you learn outside of your job title! I've created much better organizational skills and habits during my time at The Brag House.

Michael Plata
General Councel
Daniel Leibovich
COO
Will Simpson
CTO
Joseph Prososki
CFO
Brittany Dao
Director of Sales
  • Sales

    3 members

  • Brag House - General

    11 members

  • Production

    4 members

  • Legal

    2 members

Funding announcement

Brag House Raises Series A to Build the Platform for the Next Generation of Gamers

Brag House Raises Series A to Build the Platform for the Next Generation of Gamers

For Lavell Juan, the current gaming ecosystem has focused too heavily on power users, leaving behind a large contingent of their base — casual gamers. Gaming is a constantly evolving ecosystem, but most casual gamers just want a location where they can compete and network in a relaxed environment. Today, we’re excited to share that Brag House, founded by Lavell Juan (ODF6), closed a $5 million Series A Round led by Black Sheep Ventures and initiated the process to take the Brag House public on the London Stock Exchange later this year through an IPO. Other participants in the Series A round include Venture Capitalist Ron Bauer of Theseus Capital, notable gaming and crypto investor, Adrian Beeston, and others. A year ago, Brag House was an experiment driven by a grassroots college ambassadorship program. Now, Lavell and his founding team have a vision of building a new social platform for gaming. Let’s look back at their journey. Lavell, thanks for chatting with us during a busy time! Can you share a bit about your background before founding Brag House? Lavell: I used to be a college athlete, and then was a corporate lawyer by trade before becoming a serial founder. I started a company that helped NFL rookies maximize their economic potential by giving them access to investment opportunities and brand partnerships. Now, I am one of the founders of Brag House. What is Brag House and the story behind it? Lavell: Brag House is building a platform to connect the next generation of gamers. I got into gaming when I tore my achilles and had to leave college sports. To bond with my teammates and satisfy my competitive nature, I got into multiplayer video games such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. When I looked at the gaming market, I quickly noticed that the space mainly focused around the top 3-5% of users that spent hours a day on their platforms. Casual gamers, who spent a couple of hours a week on the platform, did not have a dedicated place to enjoy themselves at their pace. My Co-Founders and I are all best friends and former amateur athletes who connected with sports and stayed connected after sports through video games. I started to build communities in sports because I saw the importance of the social capital it brings. Like sports, video games created networks and instill leadership. When I left college, I could not find a community locally. Moreover, it provided a social network in the game itself. The problem my co-founders and I found were that there was no organic community from the available platforms that catered to these new gamers. SO, we started experimenting by creating an organic community where we could give casual gamers a shared experience for all types of video game experiences (team sports, solo, etc.). To jump-start the community we were building, we engaged another community where there was already a large casual gaming audience and existing competitive fire: the college scene. How did the experiment go? What did you learn? Lavell: We started a University Ambassadorship program that helped us test the market, recruit users, and conduct surveys amongst students. We quickly saw that there was significant interest amongst players, so we actually had to stop registrations after we had 50-60 dedicated players on the platform. We did not realize it at the time, but we had created an organic community where everyone could come together for a shared experience. The fact that we focused on college students to start was great as college students have their own built-in rivalries and are born to compete against one another even years after graduating. Immediately after we launched, viewership to our stream featuring competitions between the players on our platform skyrocketed and people started subscribing to support our content. We soared to the top 0.8% of all 7 million Twitch channels and made Affiliate Twitch partners in record time. At this point, we were running all our games on Twitch, however, we did not see an organic community using Twitch and moved away to our own web-based technology with features we believed would better support the casual gamers that comprised the core of our audience. How did you decide around monetizing the platform? Lavell: By the end of the summer in 2020, we had around 2000 users and a presence in campuses of around 30 schools. We started with a freemium membership and began testing paying memberships where it was $2.99 for viewers and $4.99 for the actual gamers on the platform. We realized we had great B2C traction when over 30% of our customer base converted from free to paid users. However, a spanner was thrown in the works when a university reached out to us for a potential partnership, since they recognized the community we had built on their campus. It was around the same time I knew we were on to something and joined the fifth cohort of the On Deck Founders Fellowship to help Brag House scale-up through its guidance and the potential access to a strong investor network. Being able to present to different investors through the On Deck Angels First Look program, meant we not only honed our pitch but found many advisors and mentors as well. One of our first angel investors was Bill Silva from Bill Silva Ventures. He helped us evolve our vision for Brag House from an infrastructure to run tournaments into an entirely new form of media engagement. The end goal of Brag House is to be the platform that centralizes all the different elements of gaming presented to casual gamers: daily activities, media, and engagement. How were you able to take that advice and pivot Brag House? Lavell: I think around this time last year we were happy with our B2C growth coming into On Deck as a fellow. We had good traction and were profitable. What happened next totally caught us off guard. We were approached by a university to host a private tournament. We quickly started working on an infrastructure for private tournaments and used that model to host large-scale tournaments in partnership with Nascar, Playstation, and Gamestop in the first quarter of 2021. Hard work paid off because soon we were approached by Morach, McDonald’s®’ marketing agency, to consider a partnership to host tournaments for McDonald’s®. We kicked off the Super Smash Bros™: Texas Loyalty Cup sponsored by McDonald’s® and Coca-Cola®, on July 6th. Where is Brag House with regard to fundraising? Lavell: Our Series A raise was successful, and we are excited to announce that we have entered an amazing partnership in relation to our Series A round of funding with Ron Bauer of Black Sheep Ventures and his partner Adrian Beeston. After completion of the raise, we will immediately start the IPO process to take the Brag House public on the London Stock Exchange, which has as of late been favorable to smaller companies with growth potential like Brag House. We are excited about taking Brag House global — which has always been our plan. Europe has put into place many measures to create a favorable economic opportunity for technology companies in the hopes of being home to the next major tech player. This does not change any of our US goals and operations, it gives access to a broader market as casual gaming exists globally. The expansion will open up more doors for esports nationally and internationally, where the market for global esports is growing +15.7% year over year. Indeed, many of the major investment firms such as Sequoia and Index Ventures established European offices to get ahead of the wave of technology companies currently pouring into the area. What is your goal with the fundraiser for Brag House? Lavell: Scalability. We are fortunate that we are profitable, but the vision is to build a total social network from the platform. Our two focus areas are to hire engineers to build key features to make the platform “sticky,” and to hire salespeople to help us seal amazing partnerships. We have templates on how we work with brands, but there is so much diversity among our audience that I’m really excited to see what creative partnerships we can build.

Product announcement

Brag House launches its social network for amateur esports competitors

Brag House launches its social network for amateur esports competitors

Brag House has launched a platform for connecting gamers in a social network built around amateur esports competitions. The subscription-based platform focuses on players who enjoy playing competitive games but don’t have the skill to compete in the biggest esports tournaments. Some of that engagement is on display this week as the company started its Super Smash Bros Loyalty Cup Tournament in Texas in partnership with sponsor McDonald’s. It’s a platform where players can issue their own “brags,” comments about their performance in games. Brag House started with a focus on the college market by combining the fanaticism of college sports with competitive play for casual (but passionate) gamers and their fans in tight-knit university communities said CEO and cofounder Lavell Juan in an interview with GamesBeat. “We saw that the gaming ecosystem was focused too heavily on power players,” Juan said. “We wanted to create a gaming that has more casual gamers would really want a location where they compete and network in a relaxing environment.” Started in Brooklyn, Brag House debuted with early adopters in a “March Madness” tournament in 18 universities in March. The event enabled the company to start gathering a foothold on Twitch. It now has more than 5,000 players, with roughly 30% of them subscribing to the platform. Brag House wants to build its following on the growth of casual gamers, viewers, and fans who previously would never have considered themselves gamers. The company is now opening up its platform beyond the college market to enable more gamers to host, play, and watch their own esports experiences in their own communities. Origins Juan was a serious athlete until he tore his Achilles tendon. “I was devastated. And I was in bad shape,” Juan said. “The bond with my teammates had that competitive nature, and so I got into video games. I realized that you could connect communities through video games.” He and other former athletes stayed in touch by playing video games like Tony Hawk with each other for competitive thrills. His first startup focused on creating a program to maximize the economic potential of NFL rookies. The executive team, including co-founder and chief operating officer Daniel Leibovich, used games as a way to stay connected to sports culture post-college. The team realized that there were no platforms that fostered organic communities in esports, so they created one. “I didn’t see an organic community,” he said. “It was an ecosystem focused on the top 3% to 5% of gamers. It didn’t make much sense to me because, with multiplatform and mobile gaming, there is an entire generation of gamers who value pixelation connections over in-person fun. And there was a really organic way to do it.” In March 2020, the startup threw its first online event just as the pandemic was starting and Call of Duty: Warzone’s battle royale mode was starting to take off. “We wanted to see if we could create an organic community and a shared experience from what we knew about college,” Juan said. “And that’s where we started, with a March Madness esports [Call of Duty: Warzone] tournament, focused on fun connection, and community.” After that success, the company started moving away from Twitch and building its own platform which including the bragging function.“That was just amazing. And we knew we were onto something,” Juan said. Juan said the company is capitalizing on a shift in new audience segments that is turning the conventional idea of young male “gamers” on its head, as 66% of new gamers are women and 56% are 45 years old or over. That’s a new generation of players that Brag House can target, and about 40% of its members are women. “This is where people are gravitating,” Juan said. “That’s where the shopping is going to get done. Gaming is where the interaction is going to be done. We’re in our infancy. But Brag House is moving beyond colleges to become an entire ecosystem for the next generation of gamers.” The Brag House app launched a beta in May and now has over 20,000 “brags” placed (Brag House’s form of audience interaction), 5,160 new fans, and close to 1,600 members to date. The name is based on the healthy competition between gamers for bragging rights for being the best in their favorite competitive games. They partnered with groups like the Black Collegiate Gamers Association. Even with the small numbers, game investors have been interested because of the strong retention rate. A recent event had 77 gamers representing 19 colleges, and it drew an average of 85 viewers per second, he said. There were 2,000 chat messages or 440 messages per hour, and there were 87 new members that came from that, with roughly 30% accepting paid memberships. The company has just three people right now, with more than 60 university brand ambassadors, and it is profitable. Dozens of colleges are participating. The company offers a freemium and paid membership to subscribe and play. The app is available for immediate download in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Members pay $3 a month for the community and $5 if they want to play in tournaments. There is a lot of competition out there, with well-funded rivals like PlayVs and the New York-based Community Gaming. Texas Cup On July 6, Brag House started hosting its Super Smash Bros Texas Loyalty Cup powered by McDonald’s in Texas. The event will take place over eight separate days across three weeks, and it features live-streamed tournament games for 10 Texas universities who will compete for the National Championship, claiming bragging rights and $1,000 in McDonald’s Arch Cards. Brag House is geared for gaming competitions with commentary from shout-casters, trash-talking, and bragging in the form of “placing brags.” The competition begins with a round of pre-qualifiers to determine the final gamer for each school. Students from two to three schools will play round-robin matches each day for the chance to represent their University in the tournament. Four schools will play wildcard matches on July 20 to advance to the single-elimination tournament bracket, and matches on July 21 and 22 will determine the Final Four and finalist pairings, culminating in a championship match on July 27. Fans are incentivized to tune in and show their school pride by placing brags, making predictions, and downloading the McDonald’s mobile app. Engagement during the pre-qualifiers will determine tournament seeding. Continued engagement throughout the tournament will score the top school a tailgate party sponsored by Coca-Cola. Juan saw the participation of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola as a big endorsement of the potential of Brag House. And he hopes to take the company to millions of players and fans in the future.

Partnership announcement

Brag House hosts Texas Loyalty Cup

Brag House hosts Texas Loyalty Cup

Brag House, a community gaming network, is set to host a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament featuring competitors from 10 Texas universities, including the University of North Texas. Starting with pre-qualifiers on July 6-9, the Texas Loyalty Cup will feature a $1,550 prize pool with open registration for both students and alumni from the 10 universities. The initial pre-qualifier matches will determine which individual student will represent their school in the final bracket matches against the nine other schools July 20-22. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a competitive crossover fighting game released by Nintendo in December 2018. Brag House Head of Production Ryan Baker said the company wants to encourage more people to become invested in esports through this tournament. “Esports can be very selective,” Baker said. “Only the top 1-to-3 percent in any given game will have a chance to compete competitively on an actual stage. While we definitely embrace and love to have really talented gamers who are a part of teams officially, we want to give [opportunities to] other students and gamers who maybe don’t have the time to put into practice and training.” During its pre-qualifier phase, the tournament’s matches will be single elimination and seven minutes long with three stocks (lives). Once the 10 players representing their respective schools are determined, the seats for the final championship will be based on engagement both inside and outside the tournament’s live streams. Players from the six most engaged schools will automatically qualify for the championship tournament while the remaining four will face off in play-in games for the last two slots. More engagement makes for an easier road to winning the tournament, meaning fan engagement will be a crucial part of competitors’ success. With this points system, Brag House has made it a priority to offer fans a tangible way to impact games they would otherwise passively watch. “In esports, there’s really nothing the audience gets to do,” Baker said. “At sporting events, they will do things like being able to play a little game on your phone, and whoever gets the top score will show up on the Jumbotron. So our production team was like, how can we incorporate something like that into esports?” Students and alumni can also win points for their school in a few different ways. They can place a “brag” — or prediction — in the Brag House app or make a “hot brag” on a promoted prediction. Other options include completing a daily challenge during the live stream or earning points for every pre-qualifying match prediction made on the Brag House website. Whichever school has the most points at the end of the tournament wins a tailgate party sponsored by Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Applied arts and sciences senior Daniel Dansby, 24, said the open registration format could allow more esports opportunities. “I like the open registration part because people who usually do not see a reason to play the game now have a reason to play,” Dansby said. “ I have a feeling esports will expand into doing more skill-based tournaments where they will also include different divisions for all different skill levels. I think it has the potential to branch off into so many different things, and I think Brag House is perfect for the open registration format.” Baker said the schools to watch out for will be a surprise with the open registration format. “We do have some in-house predictions going on,” Baker said. “My money is set on either North Texas or the University of Texas-Dallas. Although I know this is their esports team, I don’t know if any of them will be competing, but UT-Dallas has won two of the three past National Championships in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate through the Collegiate Star League.” University of Houston junior Luiz Martinez, 19, said he is excited to compete in the event as it will be his first tournament. “I’m most excited for the opportunity to play against other great players and show off my skills,” Martinez said. The tournament will be streamed on the Brag House website and on Brag House’s Twitch account. Baker said Brag House’s dedication to encouraging esports competition is what fuels the company to host events like the Texas Loyalty Cup. “Every single person here has a deep passion for esports and gaming,” Baker said. “Being able to be a part of it, make it a career and watch it grow brings us a lot of joy.” Courtesy UNT Esports

By clicking "Continue" or continuing to use our site, you acknowledge that you accept our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. We also use cookies to provide you with the best possible experience on our website.