Personalized interaction with the famous and influential is what an average fan would want to experience. That feeling of getting to meet with your most loved celebrity.
You may never meet them in this lifetime, not even in a time when COVID-19 has placed restrictions on traveling. However, a US-based company operating in South African, myFanPark is inspiring and uplifting fans around the world.
myFanPark’s goal is to reimagine how fans connect with those they admire by enabling the famous and influential to uplift, inspire, and delight their fans with unique, personalized interactions.
The new myFanPark is the global celebrity engagement platform, with a footprint across Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and North America.
Already myFanPark works with thousands of celebrities all over the world. From NBA MVP Kawhi Leonard, award-winning hip hop artist Gigi LaMayne, and South African Springbok Rugby player Faf de Klerk, to Indian Premier League Cricket superstar Robin Uthappa, German football legend Roman Weidenfeller, and Beverly Hills 90210 actress Tori Spelling and many more.
myFanPark also partners with influential teams and brands. Organizations looking to promote and strengthen their association with talent can use myFanPark as a meeting place to boost their exposure to a combined audience of over 250 million fans around the world.
We had a chat with Joy Des Fountain, Founder and CEO at myFanPark who took us through how the South African startup is connecting fans with their favorite celebrities.
Can we formally meet you?
Professionally, I studied accounting and I have been in the financial sector for 16 years before founding my fan Park.
Outside myFanPark, I am a mom of three young kids and I’ve been married for 11 years now. My role in this business is we’re working with a team that is across a number of geographies, building out an experience platform that connects people to those that they look out to in the most authentic and enjoyable way possible.
From building something that has the ability to scale in a really positive manner, what we really do is original for the most positive human emotion, which is happiness and that is what we sell.
I am fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, South Africa, I like being outdoors, I enjoy listening to podcasts while running. I took up surfing early this year, and I also like traveling. I am an eternal optimist as I believe in good and happiness.
With your background, can you describe the state of finance in South Africa?
In all of my roles, I’m generally the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) having headed up the finance departments, and South Africa is a melting pot of opportunities.
You have got people with great work ethics, who want to work and are driven for success. That being said, I think the corporates in South Africa still have a far way to go.
I feel like we are fortunate in South Africa, especially for me, I have worked for some really key and entrepreneurial companies that have been driven by people who are hungry to do things differently.
And naturally, I run finance departments and finance teams, you don’t always want to do things the same, because there are right ways to do things.
But what it has taught me is the value of a team, the value of hard workers and equity, the value of doing things in a different way, not just doing something because it’s been done like that for the last 20 years.
And I think that is very much a mindset that we have in South Africa, where you have some kind of companies that are doing things the way it’s being done for a long time.
And then equally, you’ve got a lot of companies that have the ability, the desire, and hunger to be innovative.
How can we be innovative? How can we put ourselves on the map from a local and global perspective, to be seen as really smart and innovative thinkers?
So it’s less about just the finance teams because I think our finance teams are often a support service to the greater good of the business.
But I’ve most enjoyed my time working for really smart entrepreneurs. And, one of the things I do well is building great teams, and finding people whose strengths mitigate other people’s weaknesses.
I believe in the power of the team, I believe in the power of surrounding yourself by vastly different thinkers, and because I think that the sum of all those parts makes for a faster, stronger connection and delivery at the end of the day.
What was the driving force from finance to myFanPark?
Whilst I studied accounting, I don’t think I ever was a perfect accountant. I studied it because I think my dad told me at a young age that I must be an accountant.
So I think I studied accounting not because I was good at it or enjoyed it, but I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, I’ve always gone against the grain in terms of taking risks.
And I think you can’t be an entrepreneur without having you taking risks, you must be able to go all in, you must be able to be brave enough to lose.
It wasn’t that difficult for me to be able to take that step into kind of a full time entrepreneurial life, because I think it’s actually what I have been.
Even in my previous jobs, I had found some other businesses, so I’m very familiar with doing side gigs and building steps like setting up companies etc.
However, it’s a far bigger risk when you go into it for full time and instead of just part-time but equally myFanPark is fortunate to have some incredible investors, now we’re going to take on external investments to give us the absolute best shot so it wasn’t too much of a transition.
What has been the Market acceptance for myFanPark?
So I think it’s quite simple, people have always looked up to other people and as the world, whether it has been in the sporting realm or music.
There is always been this positive emotional connection that has existed between someone and someone that they look up to, all myFanPark has done is put it into the digital realm, the digital space where you can now connect with someone that you look up to in a far more authentic and meaningful way, taking it away from the world of social media, etc.
So it is the need and not the way of communication and the offering is new. But at the end of the day, the need hasn’t will always be there, we just now operating in the digital space.
But the demand is 100% and so is our goal and what’s such an exciting opportunity is now just telling the world that we exist telling the rest of South Africa that we exist, telling talent all over the world that there’s a new way of connecting with myFanPark in South Africa has been particularly positive.
Any challenges so far?
I don’t you’ll find a company where there haven’t been challenges, and they are from just everyday things. I think probably one of our biggest challenges is being how to smartly scale. We are of the view that we’ve got the best technology in this space, we’ve got some incredible talents behind us.
And I guess the challenge we have now is how to tell as many people as possible that we exist in a way that it’s not just throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars into marketing, but how do you put a really smart and innovative way in place?
So it’s not just a kind of a business challenge that we’re looking to solve at the moment and I think one other thing that I will say is fundraising in the digital space where you don’t have the ability to meet people and that’s being hard.
Obviously, we officially launched out of South African in October 2019, however In March last year, we went, into lockdown.
This has made fundraising quite difficult, I’m a face-to-face person, I’m a person who loves meeting people face to face and I missed that. I look forward to the day that I can actually go and meet investors.
How is technology fostering interaction beyond Africa?
myFanPark is actually enhancing personal interaction through the digital space. Creating interaction with the famous and will eventually change the way people interact with each other.
However, I think it is already far beyond Africa because in this space you’ve got a booming creator economy.
And with that, as well, you’ve got celebrities, you’ve got people whose talent is sport and music, and then you have this new world of creators that have come about over the last few years.
And as I see, so many people, there are hundreds of the view that this is a trillion-dollar industry, and where is it going to play in the digital space, the digital space is just going to continue growing.
This digital space is will continue growing because it breaks down barriers, borders. Recently, we had a mother from Japan, who requested interaction with a Rugby player who played for South Africa, but at the time was in the UK.
Before now, you can never ever have the means or ability to actually connect in that way, so what we’ve done is break down the barriers, borders, languages of inability to interact.
Making, the world far more connected for people to connect with those that they look up to while absorbing content, information and inspiration.
How do you plan spreading this innovation on the continent?
We’re actually a US company, with a great presence out of America. We’ve also got a presence in Europe as well.
But obviously, being in South Africa, we’re putting a concerted strategy in place to be the engagement platform of the continent.
We do that in a number of really interesting ways, and Nigeria is 100% on our roadmap. However, we need to find the right partners, because, at the end of the day, I can sit here in South Africa and say, this is what worked here, and that by no means does not work in Nigeria.
So our focus is all right and thoughtful, around how we move and infiltrate. We literally want to be the engagement platform where we have all celebrities from across the continent, and they know their fan base knows that they can get personalized interaction.
Featured Image: Joy Des Fountain, Founder and CEO, myFanPark
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