The Big Pivot - Part 1
About 3 years ago I began this journey with the goal in mind to start Fantasy Bro Sports as a software company that was going to turn the way we play fantasy football on its head. Who doesn't want to be a 20-something entrepreneur who creates an app that could disrupt the fantasy football industry? With the momentous rise in popularity of mobile apps, it was a no-brainer to try to ride the wave to fame and fortune. *Spoiler alert* It didn't quite work out exactly as expected...
I knew the road ahead was going to be a tough one. I was attempting to learn a new coding language and to create a beautiful and functional app at the same time was a huge undertaking. With all this considered, I still marched forward fearlessly. With the right work ethic and determination, anything can be achieved right? The truth of the matter is that those two (while essential) building blocks can only take you so far.
The first year was very exciting. Anytime you venture into new territories, everything is great. Watching my Fantasy Bro Sports iOS app grow from a wireframe on scrap paper to a functional albeit barebones app put me on cloud nine. I couldn't believe it was happening, every day a 1% improvement. Not to say I didn't have plenty of days filled with banging my head against the wall troubleshooting code that was making my app suddenly crash. Learning and growing pains aside, the hype was real and growing by the day. It was all I could think about and all I could talk about. This app is my baby, and I wanted to be just like those annoying new mothers on Facebook and drown every friend, family, and acquaintance with all the intimate details of it all.
I really have to say that the amount of support I received was awe inspiring. I was getting calls and texts from friends of friends who wanted to try it, test it or even buy it. This was word of mouth marketing at it's finest. The only problem was that I wasn't even close to having a minimum viable product, yet a product I could feel comfortable accepting money selling or had the time to support.
Success was imminent, the user interface was becoming much better, I was implementing a cool new feature a month. And best of all, the decision algorithm was improving. The app was predicting the optimal lineups with approximately 78% accuracy. This, of course, was an acceptable starting point to start field testing with my own fantasy teams.
The real-life walks over and kicks me right in the groin. I had a huge issue that I had been ignoring since I started developing Fantasy Bro Sports, I had to update the injuries and depth chart changes by hand. This task alone became a full-time job and a tedious one at that. This cut into the time I was able to spend on all other aspects of the development, not to mention all the other facets of building a viable business.
Surely, the answer to this problem is to automate these tasks. And this brought me face to face with the fantasy football gatekeepers. Stats LLC and other similar services offered both live streaming scores and stats as well as weekly after the games boxscores. Sounds like a simple solution to my issues, but at a $1,200 per month price point, I declared myself dead in the water. There is no way an amateur part-time app developer could crack the nut on this tremendous overhead.
For months I pondered how I could construct a pricing model which a consumer would happily pay and would keep my head above water. I read over 1,000's of different marketing and sales strategies to find a way to keep my dream of bringing this invaluable fantasy football tool to market. I knew that no combination of tiered subscription plans could make this venture financially feasible.
I need to take back control of my own destiny. Although I less than gracefully bow out of the fantasy football app development race, it's time to prove that I'm not just a one trick pony. If a football player can recover from multiple ACL injuries I know I can pivot into something amazing.
The starting point of any adventure pairs nicely with tequila and a handgun, but after blowing your load you need to act differently, more strategically if you're going to achieve your goal. Shit, this means I need another worthwhile goal to chase after. I’d consider myself a subject matter expert at fantasy football, but outside of playing daily fantasy sports (DFS) or blogging I don’t have anything going for me.
Over the next following few months, I was on an emotional roller between the mixed sense of relief and regret the fact that I didn't have my next strategy figured out and left me stressed out and anxious. No one hates the unknown more than me when it comes to progress and development. When it comes to something like Fantasy Football each week invites a great deal of uncertainty and feel over the great unknown status approaching. According to the movie the Bronx tale, there's nothing worse in the world than wasted talent. The idea that my progress in life had stagnated had me convinced that I never reach my full potential. A life and prosperity, wealth and happiness was slipping through my fingers like a Mark Sanchez butt-fumble.
If I was ever going to overcome the lingering fear of failure I would need to totally reinvent myself. Once I shed my “coder” identity, the possibilities seemed endless. I first considered becoming a Fantasy Football Commissioner for Hire. What could go wrong? I could be impartial and serve a much needed service to the game I love.
The first challenge to take on getting a fantasy league to allow a complete stranger to oversee their pending trades. I'm not sure I would want that. When it comes to something as personal as fantasy football, trust is everything and I had none of it.
To be continued ...