The Next Step: Two San Joses Connected By Soccer Entrepreneur — And Futplay

Editor’s Note: This story is part of an occasional series called The Next Step that follows startup founders who have been part of university competitions sponsored by Sunstone Management, Inc. The Sunstone principals have created the Sunstone Community Fund, a donor-advised fund, to help sponsor nonprofit organizations and educational institutions through charitable donations.

Xavier (Xavi) Verdu is focused on soccer in San Jose.

That’s San Jose, California, and San Jose, Costa Rica. He started his company, FutPlay, while at San Jose State University, but the FutPlay app and users are in Costa Rica, where Verdu was born and raised – and fell in love with soccer, practicing with the first division team of the national champions at 17.

With that skill, Verdu landed a Division 1 scholarship in the United States, attending Long Island University, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration. With two years of eligibility remaining, he went through the transfer portal and was convinced to move to San Jose State to earn his MBA and play for the Spartans soccer team.

Earlier this year, Verdu and cofounder Nelson Morera took second place in the services track at the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Challenge, banking $10,000 in the process. FutPlay was off and running.

“I already had the app when I arrived at San Jose State,” Verdu said. “Then I hooked up with SpartUp (the entrepreneurial incubator at the SJSU Office of Innovation). They trusted me, we further developed the app, and they asked us to represent at the challenge.”

As he was nearing the end of his college soccer career, Verdu knew he wasn’t ready to quit playing. And he knew there were plenty of others in the same boat.

“Everyone dreams of being Messi,” Verdu said. “Lots of us want to continue playing. But that means you have to pay to play. I want to revolutionize the way amateur sports are played.

“With our app, you can create teams, rent fields, and qualify for huge tournaments with huge prizes and with a free inscription fee model.”

FutPlay’s app connects players so they can form teams. Another portion of the app schedules field reservations.

But the most fun is setting up tournaments, Verdu said. In the first FutPlay tournament in Costa Rica, 64 teams played over three weeks in a single elimination tournament.

“We doubled it for the next tournament,” Verdu said. “Famous national futsal players arrived to compete. And one of the top 10 women players has agreed to come in and commentate.

“We’re growing a lot.”

Since the Sunstone CSU Challenge last spring, FutPlay has employed five interns – two coders and three designers – significantly upgrading both the app and the website, Verdu said. But he has managed to hang on to most of the $10,000 in prize money, with plans to use it to launch FutPlay in the U.S.

“Our plan is to launch in the San Francisco area next year, and expand from there,” Verdu said. “There’s plenty of demand in the Bay area.”

Verdu now has his MBA in hand, but he’s still based in the U.S. at San Jose, working at the Spartup incubator at San Jose State. He makes three trips a year to Costa Rica to see family and work with FutPlay customers on the ground.

For more information about FutPlay, go to For more about Sunstone Management, Inc., go to the website here.

The 2024 CSU Startup Launch Competition will be in May at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Email for updates.

About Sunstone Community Fund  

The Sunstone Community Fund is a key nonprofit component of the Sunstone Management vision to advance public benefit programs that support the development of inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems. A Donor Advised Fund managed by the National Philanthropic Trust, the SCF supports a network of universities, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that develop and implement entrepreneurship programs, early-stage tech accelerators, and advance local economic development. 

Website | LinkedIn  

About Sunstone Management  

Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors.  The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall.

Connect with Sunstone Management at:

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Crunchbase | Pitchbook 

News and Press Release

Startup Resources

We are passionate about supporting tech entrepreneurs like you by presenting an array of resources. Each resource is capable of assisting with the various stages of you venture, please review and explore the relevant programs that best suits your situation.

Sunstone Community Fund

The Sunstone Community Fund is committed to catalyzing partnerships that create economic opportunities for startup founders and communities throughout the United States. That’s just one of the reasons why we choose to give back to the community.