Clutch.Win: Just Got The Biggest Win From One Of The Most Clutch NBA Stars
Esports is without a doubt the wave of the future. Gaming has become incredibly popular over the past few years with sports game franchises like NBA2K, FIFA, and Madden as popular as ever.
Along with these wildly popular games being apart of everyday life for many households around the world, a lot of other games have also taken the world by storm like Fortnite, Call of Duty, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow Six, and PUBG.
With all this gaming going on and a lot of competitive gamers going head-to-head in live streams, getting clips of highlights and hilarious things that go on has never been more popular. One company taking advantage of that fact and quickly becoming one of the best platforms to do it is Clutch.Win.
Ryan Probasco and David Paskett of Clutch.Win spoke with ClutchPoints recently to talk about their ambitious endeavor and one of their well-known investors from Thirty Five Ventures, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.
When and why did you create Clutch.Win?
Ryan Probasco: We built the first version of the app almost two years ago now, actually. Technically it’s been around for almost two years. Basically, my co-founder and I, Evrhet [Milam], he’s not on the line right now, he and I, we worked together at Pinterest for several years. We were early employees there, and we did a whole bunch of different things for Pinterest. We built a lot of their mobile products and their web products. We’re both engineers, so we like to code, and we helped build the company as well in that time.
I think being an entrepreneur, we both joined early because we liked that side of the company being able to build something new, and we both really liked building products for people. We like building apps. It’s an interesting time in history to be working on products on the internet right now, and we looked at that as like a good springboard into doing something of our own, so about two and a half years ago, we left to start our own company. We build a completely different app first before we built Clutch, but the focus was the same. We wanted to do consumer-type things.
What brought us into Clutch, though, was that we were both casual gamers, so we mostly play on Xbox. We have a whole group of friends from Pinterest that we used to play together with a lot. We’d play games like Overwatch and Halo, and we’d kind of just do it after work all the time. We had one friend in particular who really liked to make fun of us by capturing clips, so one of the great things about Xbox is it’s built right into the Xbox. You can capture a clip. What was funny, though. What we realized was it was actually really hard to share it to get it off your Xbox and put it anywhere. Even to just text to somebody is actually a big challenge. That was kind of where the idea really came from. It was like, ‘Hey, it should be a lot easier just to do this.’ In fact, it’s almost like a language just for gamers, right? You talk about the game you played and what happened to you. How much better is it to just show a clip of what happened? In fact, I think the world is getting more and more used to that with apps like Snapchat and Instagram. That’s how we communicate now. We just want to take a picture or send a little video of what happened.
As gamers, it’s no different. We want to be able to share the moment. Whether it’s humiliating one of our friends [laughs] or a horrible fail that happened to us or a great win. Anyway, that’s where it started, so we built that and then quickly we got started growing. We realized there was a community forming around it, and we got really interested in finding ways to let people connect with us. Other gamers connecting with gamers. People discovering new games. People sharing their successes on other platforms, so that’s what it has kind of grown into today. It’s a social network for gamers. It’s mobile app on android and ios.
How did you come up with the name Clutch.Win?
CW: Originally, it was called, FTW [For The Win]. A lot of people weren’t sure. They thought it was “Fuck The World” or something [laughs]. Well, I guess that’s a little confusing, and we really looked around as well…We had that for a while. I think we picked Clutch.Win because the name was available, and we just liked the sound of it. It’s a word that a lot of our users will use to describe their clips. If you go looking at clips on the app today, everybody puts a title on their clips, and you’ll see “Clutch Win” or “Clutch Wins” or that was a “Clutch Moment” and that’s like a very common phrase that will be used a lot. We thought that embodied a lot of the spirit of what people were doing with the app.
Which games are most often clipped on your platform? How are NBA2K20? Sports games like Madden and FIFA?
CW: We have a really strong Madden 20 community. I stream every day for Clutch. We have a lot of people that upload. We have really good players. We’re talking like top one percent in the ranking on Madden 20 or Madden 19 even. The same with FIFA 20. FIFA 20 not as good this year. There were a lot of complaints about FIFA 20, and then with EA Access giving the game for free. But we have very large followings of Madden 20 and FIFA 20.
So not so much on the NBA 2K20 side of things?
CW: NBA2K is a little bit different. It’s less competitive online, so it tends to be more competitive games. But we still have quite a few clips of NBA2K as well.
Those three [Madden, FIFA, NBA2K] are in our top-tier games. Any game that tends to be online competitive multiplayer. Those games tend to do really well. I think there’s a competitive spirit to a lot of the content we have, so I think people kind of want to show…the other side is funnier or something that might come from Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption or something like that. But most of it tends to be from games like Fortnite, PUBG, Rainbow Six, and that sort of thing.
How much have you raised to date from investors? And who are your key investors?
CW: When we first started, we raised close to $4 million…We have people like Greylock and SV Angel. GGV [Capital] was our lead in that round. Kevin Durant was actually an investor in that round. There was a bunch. It was a pretty broad round. There’s kind of a spectrum of different angels and institutional investors from the Bay Area that invested in that round.
A more recent round was led by a group called Evolution Media that are based down in L.A. that are more connected to the gaming industry itself.
How did you guys first reach Kevin Durant, or did he reach out to you guys?
CW: He actually reached out to us, believe it or not. Not for the reasons you might think. We didn’t really have a product in market yet. We were pretty successful in what we did at Pinterest, and so I think we generated some interest. We were pretty influential there in running pretty big teams and building a lot of product, so when we left to do our own thing, we were able to talk to a lot of really good investors in the area here. So he [Durant] does a lot of investing, actually. And he’s just in the network, so one of our investors, I think it was SV Angel. A lot of investors do introductions for you once they’ve decided to invest, so they told Kevin Durant’s people about us, and they got in touch. They were looking specifically for kind of consumer-oriented investments, and that’s what we specialize in.
How active is Kevin Durant with this?
CW: He’s not the least active, and he’s not the most active. We got to meet him once, which was great. Great guy! His team has a lot of investments, so we’ve been working with them a little bit in the past to see if there were ways he might be able to help us out individually, but those are still kind of ongoing.
Do you know what Durant’s favorite esports games are?
CW: No, I don’t, actually. That’d be great, though! I would love to get him using the app, so we can actually see what he plays.
Are you looking for any other players as part of your funding round?
CW: We would love to. I think they bring a really interesting dynamic, especially given what we’re doing now, right? So we’d definitely like support from anybody in the adjacent or similar industry. I think there would be value in it.
Some of those investments you have to be more opportunistic about it. It depends on finding the right one. We haven’t sought any out, but we definitely would be interested if any actually shows up.
What is your five-year goal for Clutch.Win?
CW: The easiest way to put it is like there are hundreds of millions of gamers out there. They’re playing games all over the world, and they’re all playing games on consoles or on PCs that can capture clips. They’re all using social media all the time. They’re on Facebook. They’re on Instagram. They know what it means to share clips. It’s kind of crazy if you think about it. People are out taking pictures of their food on Instagram and sharing things like that. They share little moments of their day.
Gamers spend hours every day playing. People might go, “Virtual whatever,” but it’s your life. They matter to you, and they’re important. Those are moments that maybe not all of your friends on Instagram are going to appreciate, but there’s a group of them that do that are also playing those games, and it’s growing, and in fact, if you could actually share those clips with those people effortlessly. Just as easy as you can with Snapchat or Instagram, then you would. Those are just as important and meaningful to you as a gamer as anything else you’re sharing on Instagram. We know there is a huge audience out there. There are millions and millions of gamers that are kind of being left out of the social side of things. Our goal for this is we just want to build the best, biggest online community of gamers out there. We think they want it. Five years from now, we do what we want to do; there will be literally millions of people using this and sharing their clips just like on any social media platform.