“A few things have always bugged me about fantasy sports, and it’s the same way that social commerce was bugging me back in 2008,” says part developer, part entrepreneur Lou Abramowski.
As such, he’s launching Unbenchable today for a socialized fantasy football experience.
Known for his knack of tinkering with Facebook hacks, Abramowski was a co founder of Alvenda, which formed in 2008 as a way to sell on products on Facebook at a time when no-one else was doing it. While Alvenda continued to evolve and ultimately changed it’s name to 8thBridge, Abramowski left last year to pursue other things, more “vetting & hacking” on Facebook as he calls it.
One such experiment was to build a fantasy app for the USA Ultimate National Champtionships, an opportunity that came to him through his coaching role with Hopkins High School.
“I was expecting a few people to sign up, but we had over 1,000 out the gate, which crashed our servers…ultimately we had over 5,000 players throughout the first 24 hours,” he recalls.
From there, the American Ultimate Disc League approached him for a similar app, and he would go on to code one for the State High School Hockey Tournament.
“Behind porn and retail, fantasy sports are the third largest consumer industry on the Internet,” he segues, getting into the genesis of Unbenchable.
“None of the big incumbents like CBS, Yahoo, ESPN, etc, are putting social first — either through design or in a platform method,” he continues. “And that’s what people are about, especially in fantasy sports. There are 35 million fantasy sports players in this country alone and we’re going after the more casual players and those who are not yet playing but will be next season. Now there’s some potential!”
When signing up through Facebook, the app will display connections who are already on board and also provide an invitation to invite peers who are not yet. With data and statistics supplied by Sports Data, Unbenchable culls all the relevant information to a given team and league. The app is designed to be inclusive to anyone on Facebook by it’s very nature, as opposed to how many traditional exclusive leagues are, Abramowski explains. And unlike many fantasy sports platforms, players are competing against people they know by name, not a random team name.
As far as revenue, his strategy includes a virtual goods marketplace supported by achievements, earning virtual “cards” for redeemable perks such as ‘double rushing yards’ or ‘no interceptions’. He believes that this will help beginners improve their game and also introduce an element of competition.
Unbenchable has been “more or less” bootstrapped to date and going to market with football this week while “easing into the best product possible,” he says with a tone of wisdom.
“Needless to say Facebook is as fired up about this as I am right now,” he grins.