Fantom ghosts in to world of online sports and entertainment collecting
Instead of putting cards or stickers into a physical album, collectors fill virtual albums via the internet
Paul Healy: “If you’re looking for what is effectively seed funding you have to start in Ireland unless you are very well connected overseas." PHOTOGRAPH: MAURA HICKEY
“One of the hardest things to do is to let go of an idea if it’s not going to work. Entrepreneurs struggle with this because something looks good on paper. They’re convinced there’s a gap in the market when there may not be a market in the gap,” says tech entrepreneur, Paul Healy, who is now on his second start-up having been part of the successful sale of jobfinder.com for €7 million in 2000.
Healy’s new venture is Fantom, an online collecting platform that has blossomed in the wake of a previous start-up that didn’t fly.
“We were trying to create a social media product for politics and when the idea burnt itself out we didn’t have a business,” Healy says.
“In particular, it put a valuation on our company as we got €30,000 for a 6.5 per cent stake. Trying to get a valuation on a start-up is what keeps entrepreneurs awake at night.”
Healy co-founded Fantom with business colleague, Aine-Maria Mizzoni, and its first product was launched in July 2012.
The company employs eight people in Dublin, a part-time sales consultant in the UK and is about to open a New York office.
Fantom left the Ryan Academy with a prototype and a business plan but completely broke.
“If you’re looking for what is effectively seed funding you have to start in Ireland unless you are very well connected overseas. The potential investor pool is small as it’s basically high-stakes gambling,” Healy says.
“Fortunately, there are a few experienced and seasoned investors here willing to take that risk. We raised €490,000 in our first funding round in December 2011 and an additional €310,000 earlier this year.”
Fantom is a digital collection platform focused on sports and entertainment. Instead of putting cards or stickers into a physical album, Fantom collectors fill virtual albums.
Fantom’s flipbook format is free to play. Those who are impatient can pay to play faster. Its launch product was TNA Impact Wrestling from the US.
“TNA has been fantastic to work with because they are a risk-oriented company and were willing to give us a try with no track record. That is like gold dust to a start-up company,” Healy says.