TOCA Football has raised $40 million in Series E funding in advance of launching TOCA Social, a series of soccer-themed entertainment venues in the vein of Topgolf. TOCA already has 14 training-focused locations and plans to expand that vertical as well. The first TOCA Social location is set to open in London’s O2 Arena in July.
“Topgolf was able to take a sport that, candidly, was beginning to die off and through gamifying their experience and creating incredible consumer experiences, was able to really turn the tide,” TOCA CEO Yoshi Maruyama said in an interview. “So you take that success and you say, Wow, we have the opportunity in a sport that is substantially bigger—in fact the most popular sport in the world.”
Maruyama joined TOCA in 2019 as the company began focusing on the venue concept. He’d previously worked in location-based brand experience for DreamWorks Animation and Universal Parks & Resorts. Founded in 2014 by U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis, TOCA built a training platform around proprietary machines, digital targets and app-based tracking for players ranging from kids to pros. “I joined with the primary agenda to shift away from the manufacturing and selling of those technologies, but rather to focus on services,” Maruyama said.
Now the hope is that the technology can attract the happy hour set. TOCA’s chairman is former Topgolf Chairman Erik Anderson, while its head of business development held the same role at Topgolf, which was acquired by Callaway Golf for more than $2 billion in March. National Soccer Hall of Famer Abby Wambach has also joined TOCA’s board. Previous investors WestRiver Group, RNS TOCA Partners, and D2 Futbol Investors led the round, which included investment from Qualtrics co-founder Jared Smith.
TOCA, which has now raised a total of $105 million, is working to open additional centers throughout Europe, with a test facility in Dallas preparing for U.S. expansion.
“There’s a massive pent-up demand of people in markets like London that have truly wanted to socialize but because of the pandemic have not been able to,” Maruyama said. “So we think that the timing is perfect.”