Gaming / Investing / Sports

Philly eSports startup gets investment from former Phillies slugger

N3rd Street Gamers is scaling up with backing from SeventySix Capital and Ryan Howard.

SeventySix Capital partners Ryan Howard, Wayne Kimmel and Jon Powell. (Photo courtesy of PRNewsfoto/SeventySix Capital)
Correction: John Fazio is not leaving Jarvus, as was reported in an earlier version of this piece; he will stay on with the company as chairman and will be focused on the day-to-day operations of N3rd Street Gamers. (10/19/17, 3:45 p.m.)

A former Phillies superstar is helping fund the expansion of a Philly eSports startup with plans to take its Twitch streams mainstream.

SeventySix Capital, where Ryan Howard is a partner, has made an investment for an undisclosed sum in N3rd Street Gamers, which organizes large and small gaming events in Philadelphia. The venture firm’s typical investment is in the $250,000–$1 million range, according to a SeventySix Capital spokesperson.

“SeventySix was already looking at investing in an eSports company, and heard about us, basically in their backyard,” said N3rd Street Gamers CEO John Fazio. Fazio says SeventySix Capital approached them in June, but wouldn’t discuss terms of the investment.

N3rd Street Gamers first started organizing gaming events in 2014, but Fazio says it started in 2009 as a group of friends from the web development firm Jarvus who got together to play Xbox in their office space. Since then, NSG has been spun off into its own company and hosted dozens of events, including the Philadelphia area’s largest gaming event. The group has even opened up its own gaming center, LocalHost on N3rd Street.

The infusion of funds from SeventySix Capital and private investor George Miller will allow N3rd Street Gamers to expand LocalHost and expand to two new markets in the next 18 months.

LocalHost will be doubling in size, taking over the office space currently used by Jarvus. The new space will have more consoles for gaming, and a professional television studio for the group’s live Twitch broadcasts and other content in between events. Jarvus will be moving to coworking space Indy Hall.

Fazio, who will stay on with Jarvus as chairman while he focuses day-to-day on NSG, is headed out on the road the next few weeks to scout for a new location and drum up more awareness of eSports. He says he hopes to be able to partner with companies like Microsoft, Nike or McDonald’s.

“We think our events offer a unique opportunity for brands to engage with millennials,” said Fazio.

Market intelligence firm Newzoo predicts eSports will be a $696 million a year industry in 2017, with a global audience of 385 million people.

In July, over 2,500 gamers went to the NSG Summer Championship at Sun Center Studios, a film and television production studio in Aston, Pa. The slate of regular NSG events include Counter-Strike tournament Fragadelphia (which saw big-time viewer interest as early as 2015), a Starcraft tournament called Cheesadelphia, a Rocket League tournament called Boostadelphia. NSG also has one of only four sanctioned Madden Challenger events in the country.

SeventySix Capital was started in 1999 by Wayne Kimmel. Howard joined the fund this year. Howard is also an investor in California-based NRG Esports.

Companies: SeventySix Capital
People: Wayne Kimmel

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