“99% of Lithuanians sports fans are basketball fans,” says Vilius Jastremskas, Head of Partnerships at LYMPO.
With strong funding and talent development programs, as well as a genetic predisposition for height, it’s no surprise the small baltic nation is considered one of the leaders of the basketball world. Add to that a potent political history, with the country’s national team first absorbed into the Soviet Union, then, later after independence, defeating Russia at the Olympics, and you can begin to understand why the sport has been called Lithuania’s second religion.
LYMPO is a Lithuanian company using blockchain technology to build a platform for sports fans to engage with their heroes. They’re partnering with athletes, clubs and leagues around the world to produce digital sports cards that fans can collect, trade and use to earn rewards.
“We started in 2017,” Jastremskas explains. “We had an app that incentivized users to work out and earn. We were about healthy lifestyles and sports. Later, when we joined Animoca Brands in 2020, we transitioned to the NFT-based sports platform.”
The company’s official documentation explains further: “Our NFT platform, a core component of the Lympo ecosystem, features various pools for minting and staking NFTs. One of our most distinguished pools is the Athletes - Lympo NFT pool, which includes world-renowned sports celebrities, accomplished athletes, clubs, and influential sports figures. These digital sportscards are unique and backed by intellectual property rights, providing collectors with a valuable and authentic piece of sports history.”
“First, there was all this hype around NFTs,” observes Jastremskas. “Everyone was trying to understand what an NFT was. Now, people are starting to understand more. They are engaging, especially when you gather like-minded people together - sports fans, for example - and give them away to interact with each other, to be part of a community.”
The company’s CEO, Tadas Maurakas, goes further: “We believe that athletes and fans are two inseparable parts of sports,” he said in a statement. “So the athlete-related digital assets are essentially a connection point between the two. Digital assets work like an entry key to a closed fan circle with direct access to the athlete, exclusive content, authentic experiences and various giveaways. The additional layer of fan engagement unlocked through digital ownership is one of the key priorities for us when designing any product or experience.”
Naturally, LYMPO has a partnership with the Lithuanian Basketball Federation to feature the national team on their cards, as well as collaborations with star players like ex-NBA center Donatas Motiejūnas. Their work goes beyond local basketball, however. The company now holds the rights to more than 50 world-leading athletes, including UFC Women’s Champion Rose Namajunas; Olympic Games medallists, athletics and martial arts champions, and tennis, football, rugby, golf, snooker and poker players from all over the world.
“We have a broad variety of different athletes from different sports,” Jastremkas tells me. “It’s quite an achievement.”
“We know that sports fans are very enthusiastic collectors of their favorite athletes,” he continues, noting the overall size of the sports collectibles market, which is estimated at $35 billion in 2023, and is expected to grow to $227 billion by 2032.
“And we know the value that NFTs can add as the digital format of collectibles.”
The company’s ultimate goal is to allow athletes to monetize their digital brand - something they have been unable to truly achieve in the web2 space.
So far, they have seen some impressive results. One of Lympo’s collections trended at number one on OpenSea in January. Many of the most common cards trade on the site for a few USDC each, but the rarer cards can go for thousands. The most expensive at the time of writing was an ‘Epic’ rarity card featuring famous poker player Tony G, listed for 1.5ETH, or almost $3000.
And, for those interested in turning a profit from their collections, there are more options than simply selling them.
“Another important part of our platform is the staking pools. By staking their unique digital sportscards, users can benefit from attractive interest returns. This innovative approach combines the excitement of collecting and trading NFTs with the opportunity to earn passive income, thereby enhancing the overall value and utility of these digital assets within the Lympo ecosystem.”
The technology behind LYMPO’s offering is supplied by Venly. They use the Venly Wallet API to build custom wallets for sports fans to easily buy, swap and sell the NFT sports cards.
“The collaboration [with Venly] ensures that users who are new to web3 can seamlessly access exclusive content, experiences and giveaways, while also enjoying the benefits of digital ownership,” said Maurakas.
“We started working with Venly to make onboarding easier for sports fans,” explains Jastremskas further. Venly’s services allow credit card payments, which “reduces the pain of having to go through all the wallet creation, web3 integrations, and so on and so on.”
“We did our research on all the other competitors, but Venly was just the most credible company out there - they are experts in the field.”
“Everything has been very smooth. The communication was very clear. Any support we needed, they provided it. I have nothing bad to say about it.”