PowerSpike, a startup helping live stream gaming influencers connect with brands, has closed a seed funding round of half a million dollars from the Philadelphia Sixers Innovation Lab, Techstars Atlanta, First Round Capital’s Dorm Rood Fund and more.
“We’re excited to invest in AJ Damiano and his talented management team. As former streamers, they’re acutely aware of the challenges PowerSpike aims to solve, and they are already on the right path,” said Seth Berger, Managing Director at the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, in a statement. “Streaming is a rapidly growing space we believe will continue to explode.”
As Berger touches on, eSports as an industry is experiencing explosive growth, with revenue projections above $900 million in 2018 and surpassing the billion-dollar mark in 2019.
Streaming-related activities — how most fans watch eSports live — accounts for a significant portion of that revenue, whether through brand sponsorships, ads or paywalls. And viewership also continues to rise, with growth on Amazon-owned Twitch rising 197 percent and on YouTube Gaming by 343 percent in 2017.
Brands are willing to stake big budgets on popular eSports players, just as they would sponsor any professional athlete. But it may be hard for players to connect with brands that they resonate with, and vice versa.
Enter PowerSpike, a startup founded by a team of former live streamers. Co-founder and CEO AJ Damiano, a former eSports ‘shoutcaster’ and Twitch Streamer, met YouTube and Twitch streamer Michael Paris, now the company’s COO, in high school. Four years later, the two have grown the idea into a team of seven and landed an acceptance into the Techstars Atlanta accelerator last month.
PowerSpike helps both sides of the live streaming marketing relationship — the influencer and the brand. The AI-driven platform charges companies a monthly SaaS fee to easily search for and connect with live streaming influencers to sponsor. The dashboard provides analytics on those marketing campaigns so they can track results.
Conversely, PowerSpike helps the live streamers find potential sponsors, and even eliminates friction by letting them get paid securely though the platform. PowerSpike also takes a 15 percent fee off of every transaction conducted on the platform.
Currently, PowerSpike only supports integration with Twitch, but a company representative says that within this year they plan to add YouTube, Facebook Live and more streaming platforms. In its current iteration, the platform counts over 8,000 users with a total audience of 10 million viewers. Brands using the tool include Soylent, Camp Mobile and Creative Labs.
“PowerSpike sits at the intersection between two massive trends — the rise of influencer marketing as a key component of a brand’s marketing mix and the explosive growth of video game live streaming,” said Techstars Atlanta Managing Director Michael Cohn in a statement.
This recent funding round will help the company hire a few additional developer positions in Atlanta, as well as ramp up product development to encompass additional streaming platforms. They will open another, larger funding round upon conclusion of the Techstars Atlanta program in October.