It’s that time of year when fantasy football fanatics assemble their teams, entering mock drafts and choosing their top QBs.
The fantasy sports industry is huge and growing, with an estimated 32.8 million players in the United States alone. (Football comprises about 74 percent of those players).
The industry has long been dominated by the likes of Yahoo, CBS and ESPN, all of which attempt to woo fantasy footballers at this time of year. But a young Seattle upstart by the name of Fantasy Football Life is looking to muscle in among the giants of the fantasy football world.
The company will soon release an app called theForum to bring forums, news, social networking and an Ask the Expert area where users can ask direct questions of the fantasy football columnists featured on the site.
“As a fantasy football player, you have to go to at least five different places to find what Fantasy Football Life looks to give you in one,” said co-founder and avid fantasy football player Kevin Nelson. We caught up with co-founder and Seattle native Cameron Sparks, a graduate of Bishop Blanchet and Washington State University, for this installment of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Fantasy Football Life has a goal of providing everything a fantasy football player needs (and a few things they want). We have a website with the latest information and advice, a game-changing mobile application with features not available in others. We provide marketing for companies looking to reach a fantasy football audience, and are starting a new venture titled the “VIP Draft Experience” fusing your fantasy football draft with the NFL draft, providing the best experience. We also have a weekly radio show on the largest sports network in Seattle, KJR Sports Radio.”
Inspiration hit us: “When I no longer wanted to do simply what I was capable of in life, but what I wanted to do. I have been an engineer since 2004, but I’ve loved football much longer and few things bring me more excitement each year than fantasy football. When that season rolls around my juices get flowing. I’m more entertained and enthused daily. One day I had the crazy idea of going about making it my career. And two years later, the company has progressed further than I ever believed when I first started.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap, but not by choice. I would love to come across an angel that sees my determination and vision and gets behind the company, but I won’t let the lack of an angel stop me from seeing things through. I’ve put a lot of time and money into FFBLife and realize that I have not been this passionate about work since I’ve begun my career. I also realize that the difference between many that succeed is simply putting in and continuing to work toward their goals and dreams. I won’t stop moving forward, and a long as the company is moving forward, it is progress.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Not being afraid to succeed and achieve the impossible. Often times people (myself included) have come up with what they thought were wild ideas, but good ideas, yet they do not pursue them. At FFBLife we now feel after seeing our success thus far (that) there is nothing we can’t do, no idea we can’t pursue. For us, it’s a matter of when, not if. I became a believer and that belief became contagious.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “This answer easily is the people. The people that work for FFBLife are the most passionate and knowledgeable fans you’ll ever find and you must love what you do to give 100 percent to it. By having the right people that believe in the “work” they are doing, we are able to deliver a great product while happily accepting the late nights and early mornings.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “I wish it wouldn’t have taken me this long to begin. When I think about where this company will be in 5 years, it makes me wish I was already 5 years into it.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “How about a wrench, we’d love to have Paul Allen in our corner. To see a man that is passionate about his teams, especially the Seahawks who are my hometown team, I can only imagine the wonders he could help do for Fantasy Football Life. I have a feeling Paul Allen would love what we’re doing, our passion and I’m sure some Seahawks box seats wouldn’t be so bad either.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “The fall of 2012 should be one to remember for FFBLife. The launch of “theFORUM” mobile application, being included on the Fantasy Football Index Experts Panel, beginning of the VIP Draft Experience, continuation of the KJR radio show and so on. All 35 million players out there should be very aware that we are coming for them!”
Rivals should fear us because: “They shouldn’t. We like it that way. If they need a reason, they should fear us because they have no idea what we are capable of.”
We are truly unique because: “We are doing something in the industry that no one company has been able to put in one place. We are 20 companies in one. Well, that’s the goal anyway.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Resources, and the lack thereof. We do everything on limited resources. Time because we have to keep jobs to afford to get to a place we’d like to with this company, and money because it is simply a need to complete the projects we want to. Hopefully, 2012 is the beginning of that changing.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Believe in yourself and dare to be great. There is nothing you cannot do, there is only what you will not, did not or did not try to do. Even if slow, keep moving forward and it is always progress.”