Founder Alán Jaime Misrahi grew up devoted to soccer, eventually playing in Mexico’s third division. While he didn’t necessarily make it to the “big leagues” playing the sport, his new company Draftea aims to win over the 350 million sports fans in Latin America, Misrahi told TechCrunch in an interview.
Draftea, which calls itself the first daily fantasy sports company in Spanish-speaking Latin America, emerged from stealth mode today on the heels of a $13.2 million fundraise led by Sequoia. The investment marks Sequoia’s first in a company headquartered in Mexico, half a year after the venture capital firm announced plans to double down on opportunities in Latin America.
Kaszek and Bullpen also participated in the round, along with Nigel Eccles, founder and former CEO of sports-betting giant FanDuel. Eccles serves as chairman of the board at Draftea.
Draftea’s app charges sports fans a fee to draft a lineup of players and compete to win daily cash prizes. The platform, currently in private beta mode, will launch sometime in the first quarter of this year. It will first host Mexican fantasy soccer matches, though Misrahi said the company aims to eventually add offerings until it hosts fantasy games for “every single sport in the world.”
“When you think of a region where soccer is almost a religion, where people get together for activities that are related to sports, where stadiums are full, where people enjoy [sports] as a family tradition, where people are in several WhatsApp groups talking about sports and fantasy – we want to bring all that together,” Misrahi said of Latin America.
While sports betting platforms like Costa Rica’s Betcris are already popular in the region, Misrahi said Draftea is comparatively a “much more social platform.” It also differentiates itself by offering daily games and interactions, in contrast to the less-frequent games hosted by seasonal fantasy platforms that tend to mirror real-world sports schedules.
Besides Misrahi, the core founding team includes Alejandra Lascurain, former product lead at Mexico’s largest neobank; Miguel Gutiérrez-Barquín, who previously led growth at Rappi; Joe Cohen, Vercel’s former head of engineering; and Andreas Assad, who worked at EA Sports. Draftea has 34 employees in total today and plans to double in size over the next couple months across all key areas, Misrahi said.
The team is looking ahead to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this November, expected to be this year’s biggest live sports event worldwide.
“Our goal is to, by then, have an amazing product, have launched in many countries in Latin America, and to have hundreds, if not thousands or millions, of users engaged with our platform,” Misrahi said.
Sequoia’s Konstantine Buhler met Misrahi through a mutual connection at Stanford, where Misrahi completed his MBA last year. Buhler led Sequoia’s investment in Draftea, in part because he felt Misrahi exemplified “founder-market fit” due to his passion for sports and experience as a professional soccer player, Buhler told TechCrunch in an email.
“It all comes down to customer love,” Buhler wrote. “Draftea is a first-of-its-kind community for sports fans in LatAm where they can become the protagonist in their favorite games. We believe Alán and team will quickly capture the hearts of fans in Mexico then expand to other countries in time for the World Cup.”