A high-impact game
Matias Gonzalez de Biase
FC Bola is a new Argentine startup. For each ball they sell, they give another one to a child in a disadvantaged community, thus making it easier for people to get involved: when you buy a ball, if you choose a Bola, you are already helping others.
Congratulations on winning the silver medal at the Startup Games organised by the UK's Department for International Trade. What did you get out of that experience?
The experience of travelling to London and spending a week in one of the most important cities of the world was amazing. All the meetings, all the people I came across... it was very enriching, helpful. Lots of learning on how to grow a business, creating a company in the UK, building and retaining a team and understanding the local framework. All the benefits and requirements for launching in the UK and setting up a presence in the UK.
What prompted you to become an entrepreneur? Why FC Bola?
All my life I’ve been interested in startups, on how people create value. How people create organization from where all those minds create solutions to problems, with a business model, creating brands, products, services. So I wanted to create too, I wanted to do things. As Guy Kawasaki said, “The best reason to start an organisation is to make meaning, to create a product or service to make the world a better place.” At FC Bola we work to create shared value, economic and social. We sell footballs but what we sell is more than a product, what we try to sell is a concept: ‘get involved’. The world is changing. We encourage that. We want to be part of that change.
What would you tell people that have an idea but haven't taken the leap into becoming an entrepreneur yet?
To be an entrepreneur is very similar to work really really hard. It’s a very hard path but it pays off, always. It doesn’t matter if the business goes well or not. You may go bankrupt in a few years… but you’ll recover from that, with lots of new insight and new energy. But many years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. And there is no way to go back in time. So get out of your comfort zone, dream and explore. Like that you will live with no regrets.
What is the social challenge/ problem that Bola are trying to address?
Unfortunately, in many regions of Latin America there are many kids living in vulnerable communities where they have to deal with really hard circumstances on everyday life. In those neighbourhoods, children spend a lot of time in the streets, where they meet with usual problems: alcohol, drugs, vandalism. When they go to the playground the getaway from all those problems and they meet friends, they enjoy playing, they learn many values that are very important and last for a lifetime. Effort, teamwork, respect, identity, they learn to lose, to win. All you need to play football is a ball. You can play it on any surface. Goals can be made with anything. Players? 2vs2, 5vs5, 9vs9… any… So that is why we work with the intention and the dream that there will never be a “potrero” without a ball for the children to play.
What is next for FC Bola?
We started this project in september 2015 in argentina where we are doing very well. As football is the most popular sport in the world we dream to become worldwide. To start with that we are planning to launch FC Bola in USA on 2018. Next step will be UK/Europe. There are many places where to take ball for children in need, so we need the people to be part of this, become part of this team. We understand that if people get involved we will achieve our goal! With Bola, if you play, everybody plays.