Business COVID-19 Startups Venture

Gamers Getting Paid: Play One Up Raises $3.1M Seed From Three Curve, Pro Athletes

Play One Up, an e-sports mobile app that allows gamers to compete for money, has raised $3.1 million in a seed round led by Three Curve Capital, the company told Crunchbase News exclusively.

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Notably, NBA player Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers) and the NFL’s Denzel Ward (Cleveland Browns) also participated in the financing, which brings Play One Up’s total raised to date to $4 million, according to the company.

Brandon Pitts founded Play One Up in 2018 to give XBOX and PlayStation gamers a way to compete for money while playing Madden NFL, NBA2K, FIFA and Fortnite. He describes it as a mobile third-party facilitator that essentially “helps gamers earn income through video game skills through the tap of a button” via its app, One Up.

Anyone 18 and older can sign up to play and an on-demand assistant is matched with an opponent “within minutes,” Pitts explained to me. The players can agree on how much they want to wager for any given game, and then Play One Up facilitates the action.

“Action is governed on the front end so that we know both players have funds. That way, we can assure that no one gets cheated and everyone gets paid when they win,” Pitts said. “Each player has an escrow account that money is placed into when they win, and they can cash out at any point.”

Play One Up’s proprietary patent pending technology determines the winner based on a variety of factors.

Currently, Cleveland, Ohio-based Play One Up has 11 employees but plans to expand to 26 by year’s end. On its team are former engineers and designers from Google, Facebook and Spotify, according to Pitts.

“We’re looking to hire engineers and support people, as action has been through the roof during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he told Crunchbase News. “We’re opening up tournaments, expanding our product, and rolling out on Android. So there’s going to be a whole new group of users.”

Today, Play One Up has over 130,000 registered users, up from about 15,000 to 20,000 users a year ago. In April, it facilitated about 30,000 head-to-head matchups, and it’s doing over $1 million a month in wager volume.

“Over half of our users have signed up during the pandemic over the last 90 days,” Pitts told Crunchbase News. “2020 has been stellar for us. We are evolving and growing in a very organic fashion.”

Play One Up charges a 15 percent booking fee for all the action on its platform. Skilled gaming is not legal in about nine states.

In conjunction with the funding news, Play One Up has signed Slam Dunk contest champion Derek Jones to an influencer deal.

“He’ll be conducting tournaments through our platform, and we’ll be providing the technology and infrastructure to make that happen,” Pitts said.

Photo caption: Brandon Pitts, founder of Play One Up. Photo courtesy of Play One Up.

Blogroll Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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