Paul Ingalls readily admits that there’s no shortage of players trying to carve new businesses in the arena of social sports. But so far, at least in his view, no one has quite “nailed it.”
As the co-founder of Fanzo, Ingalls hopes his startup is the first to make it to the end zone. The young startup is very much in the early stages of development, but it has already pulled in $115,000 in cash from angel investors such as former Smilebox CEO Andrew Wright (Ingalls’ former boss). It also is one of the Seattle area companies participating in the new Windows Azure Accelerator.
“We are here because we believe sports fans are some of the most passionate people in the world,” said Ingalls, the former vice president of technology at Smilebox and computer science grad from Notre Dame. “We believe that sports fans unite in a way that creates the ultimate community and sense of home. Sports fans help their teams win and are there for their teams when they lose. We are here to create something for them in a way that does not exist today.”
The company was formed after former news reporter and PR veteran Dana Dysterhuis provided a 15-second pitch of the concept at a Lean Startup event that Ingalls was attending.
Ingalls was intrigued, and they were off to the races. At this point, the Fanzo site is live, but Ingalls said they are simply using it to test various hypotheses.
“We are taking this data, along with the learning from our second round of customer development, and using it to refine our strategy and identify our next steps,” he said.
I played around with Fanzo a bit Thursday night (while watching the World Series). It’s easy to use and the design is fresh, allowing users to quickly sign up via Facebook to track various teams. (Guess which three I followed?) But the big challenge for Fanzo will be — well to put it bluntly — attracting fans of their own.
That’s no small undertaking.
And, as I noted before, there’s no shortage of news outlets and social networks where people can chat about sports with other like-minded fans.
Obviously, with the advent of social media, the way people interact and consume sports information is changing radically. For those who don’t think things are different than the era of crusty newspaper columnists, just check out this story about Bleacher Report which ran earlier this month in The Seattle Weekly.