- Champions Round, a startup that raised $10 million to disrupt fantasy sports, is winding down.
- The company is now looking to sell its assets.
- It’s the latest sports startup to hit snags in a competitive climate — both for funding and users.
Champions Round, a startup that raised $10 million to disrupt fantasy sports by catering to Gen-Z customers, is shutting down after an investigation led by the company’s investors, according to two people familiar with the situation.
According to the two people, company leaders informed employees at an all-hands meeting on June 14 that Champions Round would be laying off a large portion of its workforce and selling its assets.
According to the sources, CEO Carter Russ accepted responsibility for the meeting’s conclusion, citing issues between the founders and investors.
Champions Round is the latest startup to go under due to changes in the funding environment. Money was freely flowing in the sports betting and online gambling sectors until about a year ago, and capital was easy to come by. Investors have moved more slowly as the economic outlook has changed, taking the time to do their due diligence before investing. It has made it more difficult for some startups to raise additional funds and has shortened their runways in an industry where competition is expensive.
Champions Round is not the only fantasy-sports startup that has failed in this competitive environment. No House Advantage, a daily fantasy sports operator, recently informed customers that it had “ceased operations” after attempting to find a buyer, according to Legal Sports Report on August 14.
However, Champions Round appeared to defy some of these market trends at first.
Signs of turmoil at the startup left industry watchers wondering what had been going on
Champions Round announced a $7 million Series A round earlier this year, with investors including Point72 Ventures and Goodwater Capital. PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy were among the startups that attempted to disrupt fantasy sports.
Champions Round aimed to differentiate itself by cultivating a Gen-Z audience and collaborating with content creators alongside whom users on the platform could play — the company planned to introduce tools that would allow creators to build their own games and earn a cut of the revenue generated by them.
“They had big plans, and then it all just evaporated,” said one of the company’s insiders.
Since June, a series of concerning signs have left industry observers wondering what had happened to the once-promising startup.
The company, which was previously active on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, had not posted since June 13. Several employees left the company the same month, including its in-house content creator, who was supposed to be a key differentiator for the fantasy-sports app. A few people also complained on Twitter, now known as X, in late June and July that they couldn’t log into the app to withdraw their funds.
On August 16, Russ told Insider that “the company is in great financial shape and is actively processing all refunds.” He and several other company representatives did not respond to inquiries about this story.
The app appeared to be down at the time of writing and displayed an error message when a user attempted to sign up.