Archive | August 2012

The Second Screen Revolution

What is the second screen?  Andrew and I use this term so often as it relates to Spogo, we sometimes forget that it isn’t quite commonplace—yet.

The “second screen” pertains to the device you are using while watching TV.  Whether you are on your smart phone, tablet, laptop, desktop—or some combination of these devices, while watching television, you are part of what we at Spogo are calling the Second Screen Revolution.  Even yesterday, in less than a ten hour span on one tech website I read regularly, there were three separate and detailed articles about the second screen, two of them as they relate to sports:

If Content Is King, Multiscreen Is The Queen, Says New Google Study
http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/29/if-content-is-king-multiscreen-is-the-queen-says-new-google-study/

After 28.5M iOS Downloads, ESPN Launches A Faster, All-New ScoreCenter For iPad
http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/29/after-28-5m-ios-downloads-espn-launches-a-faster-all-new-scorecenter-for-ipad/

Pac-12 Networks Brings Live College Sports Online And On The iPad, With An Assist From Ooyala
http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/29/pac-12-online-ipad/

Utilizing the second screen to engage more deeply with the content you are viewing and consuming is a trend that is not slowing down anytime soon.  Checking the leaderboard of the Masters on your iPad while watching Tiger tee off the 16th, tweeting from your Android about the American Idol contestant who just got kicked off—this is what the Second Screen Revolution is all about.

What Spogo aims to do is ride—and eventually guide—this wave in the sports realm.  All too often, whether you are sitting at the sports bar, in the stands, or even on the couch with your friends—you can look over and, without fail, many of them will have their heads down, clicking away on their smart phones.  How do we engage these viewers, as opposed to distract them?  This is what Spogo aims to do.

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The Godfather

As we write this post, we are on an airplane somewhere high above the Mason-Dixon line making our way south to the home of country music, where the ice cold beer flows like wine: Nashville, Tennessee. We’re on the way to visit our closest and oldest friend, Zach.

Starting in kindergarten, I (Andrew) spent nine years in school with Zach. We became best friends. We went separate ways in high school—I to Pingree, and he to GDA. As a freshman at GDA, little 5’2”, 115lb Zach somehow managed to befriend a giant named David. Zach introduced me to David during our senior years of high school, as we both planned to attend the University of Richmond that Fall. We decided to room together, and from there it was history.  We ended up rooming together all four years, stayed close friends for the two years we held jobs in New York and Boston after graduation, and ended up co-founding Spogo.  Long story short, Zach is as responsible for the birth of Spogo as we. He is Spogo’s “Godfather”.

As we prepare for an incredible weekend of country music, best friends, cold beer, barbeque and cowboy hats (and some Spogo work of course) we wanted to write this to say thank you to Zach. Not only did he introduce us long ago, but he remains our closest and most loyal friend. One of the best things about our friendship with Zach is that it never changes. No matter how long it’s been since we’ve all seen each other, and no matter how vastly different our day to day lives have become, whenever we reunite, we pick up right where we left off: just like the idiots we were in back in 5th grade throwing wet paper towels at each other in the boy’s bathroom, and just like the Frappuccino-drinking, Combos-eating, Madden-playing goons we were in high school.

And trust me, our daily lives are polar opposites. After graduating from West Point, Zach spent two years training, and is now a United States Army Ranger and First Lieutenant.   Not bad for a shrimp.  Meanwhile, David and I sat in cubicles for two years straight working for Corporate America, and have taken the plunge into entrepreneurship.  Regardless of job title, time or distance between us, our friendship will remain constant.  And we’ve reminded Zach, not that we have to, that there’s always a spot for him at Spogo HQ whenever that time comes.

Thanks, Zach.  Looking forward to an unforgettable weekend.

– Drew & Dave

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Six Weeks In: Lessons Learned

As David and I finish up our sixth full week at Spogo HQ (a.k.a “the cave” or “the hurt locker”), I thought it would be both insightful to you as a reader, and beneficial to us as founders, to share some of our early lessons learned.  Surprisingly, you can learn a lot in just six weeks.

Lesson 1: Stay Focused

Blindly leaping into the tech startup scene with a background in finance (or advertising) is intimidating. We have so much to do that each time a day starts, it’s hard to figure out where to begin.  Being able to organize and prioritize, work together, and keep each other in check when we aren’t has been extremely important.  No matter how much advice we get or how many crazy, huge, visionary ideas we dream up, we have to remind ourselves to stay focused on the goal for Spogo version 1.0.

Lesson 2: Confidence is King

After six weeks of pitching to and meeting with advisors, potential investors and partners, I’ve realized that confidence is king. If we don’t act like Spogo is the greatest thing that’s happened to Sports since ESPN, then it won’t be. To get the time of day from important people, you must be confident. Of course, there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, and we’re still learning to walk it.

Lesson 3: Get Out of the Office

Contrary to the popular belief among tabloids, news outlets and bloggers alike, Team Spogo rarely spends a full day trapped in the allergy-enhancing basement that is Spogo HQ. We’ve learned that getting out and talking with people is our life-blood. It took a few rounds of potential partner meetings and Boston Tech Meetups to get comfortable, but what we’ve learned is that being shy can only hurt a startup (also see Entrepreneurial Paranoia). The Boston tech scene is small, and we’ve quickly discovered that there are rarely more than one or two degrees of separation between ourselves and the most important people in our industry.

Lesson 4: Fight with Your Co-Founder

There are few who can beat David in a fight. This includes intellectual battles, verbal arguments and physical fights. Unfortunately for me, I’ve only begun to conquer the first two. I’d guess that over 90% of the time, we are on the same page. That other 10% though, is spent in engaging, intellectually stimulating arguments (sometimes over who bought the milk last, but mostly about our business). We usually either come to a compromise, or one side wins over the other. In all cases, our arguments have led to personal and company growth.  The importance of being comfortable enough to fight with your co-founder cannot be overstated.

 

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Great Moments in Sports

I think we’ve made it explicitly clear, even in just our first 10 or so blog posts, that we love sports.  After seeing this video the other day, well…just watch.

The End of an Era

Fantasy sports has long been a part of my life.  Since 2004 I have been the Commissioner of one Fantasy Baseball and one Fantasy Football league each season.  Some of the friends I have had in these leagues have been with me since the very beginning.  Each season, I try to send a thoughtful and humorous league message to the Managers–one at the commencement of the season, and one at the close of the Playoffs.  The one common theme throughout, of which I’m not sure my shoulder will ever recover, is patting myself on the back for my superior record of Fantasy play.

Last night I made the difficult but necessary decision to retire as Fantasy Commissioner.  I thought this the perfect forum to share my final words to my loyal stable of Managers:

Good evening,

Many of you have participated in my fantasy leagues for football and baseball for the past several years. Thank you for your participation, your passion, your loyalty–and most of all, your respect, of which I am so deserved. My message to you tonight is bittersweet.

I am writing to you to announce my retirement as Commissioner.

Since 2004, I have served as Commissioner of 10 baseball leagues and 10 football leagues. Some of you have been with me since the beginning, and to you I tip my cap. It certainly has not been easy for any of you–not only are you playing under a first ballot Hall of Fame Commissioner, but Manager as well.

A brief retrospective: since 2006 I have taken the Baseball league title an unprecedented four times, finishing lower than 3rd only once (4th). In Football, my accomplishments are equally impressive. In seven out of ten leagues, I have taken home a trophy. Needless to say, my virtual trophy room is nearly at capacity.

While my achievements as a Manager are historic, it hasn’t been the trophies I’ve cared so much about. The thing I’m most proud of, that I’ve enjoyed the most season after season after season has been bringing my friends (and family) together in the enjoyment, competitiveness, spirit and fun of sport. That I could be the one to do this for you (and for me), has been an honor, privilege and monumental responsibility.

On a quick side note, as a gift to all of you, I have nullified the requisite league payment for this season. As I’m sure you all know, I have catapulted to first place in the last few short weeks, and according to the most recent Vegas odds, am a near lock to take the league title. Saving you all fifty dollars was not a decision that came easy, but in my final governing act, generosity prevailed.

After this season, and after my jersey has been raised to the rafters, my face embossed in bronze in the great Hall, you may see and hear from me from time to time. Retirement may not be the appropriate word; nevertheless, I am on to my next great adventure which will require the majority of my time and focus.

This announcement comes now to those who have been wondering why no Fantasy Football league has yet been created. So, to end the ramblings of a (near) former Commissioner, I wish you all the best of luck. I look forward to an exciting remainder of the 2012 Fantasy Baseball season, and will certainly deliver my traditional farewell message when that time comes. A wise man once said:

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are [Fantasy League Managers].”

Good night,

The Commissioner

Thanks, Johnny

Johnny Pesky, the heart and soul of the Red Sox organization passed away on Monday. He was 92. While this marks a truly somber day for Red Sox nation, his life and career should and will be celebrated. Pesky played, managed, broadcasted and coached within the Red Sox for over 60 years. The guy just loved baseball. But more than that, he loved his players, his team, his ballpark, and his fans. Coaches, players and fans around baseball are sharing their stories of Johnny. I thought I’d join them and share a few of mine.

The Pole:
Sitting just 302 feet (so the Red Sox claim) from the plate, Pesky’s Pole was named by teammate and Sox broadcaster Mel Parnell after Pesky won a game for Parnell in 1948 with a home run down the short right field line, just around the pole. Pesky would only hit five more home runs at Fenway Park, almost all of them wrapping around that pesky little pole in right.  I remember going to a game when I was 10 or 11 with my grandfather and watching batting practice from directly behind the pole. After about 20 minutes, I had two or three balls. As a 10 year old, it was awesome. Pesky’s Pole would forever be my friend.

The Wink:
Not too long ago, Pesky was hitting ground balls to infielders at spring training. One year I was I was down in Florida and witnessed it myself. Not bad for a guy in his 80’s I thought. As practice was coming to a close one day, Pesky walked off the field, looked in my direction, winked and smiled.  At the time I thought it was a sign from the baseball Gods telling me that one day, I’ll be on that field. Turns out, it was just a wink. But with that simple, warming gesture, Johnny Pesky made me feel like a friend and a teammate.

The Boss:
Fans at Fenway finally had a chance to smile last night as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band put on a hell of a show. I was lucky enough to score tickets, and I’ll never forget it. First of all, how does he do it? Four hours of classic Bruce without a break. The guy is 63. Unreal. More than that, the Boss paid tribute to Johnny Pesky throughout the night with images of him on the big screens, and a constant spotlight shining on Pesky’s Pole.  Class act, for a Yankee fan. Bruce summed it up perfectly during “My City of Ruins” by quieting down the crowd and saying,: “There are people who’ve given their heart, their souls, their blood, and it’s all in the dirt out there.”

 Thanks for the memories, Johnny. You will be missed.

What is this blog?

I used to work in advertising.  One day I said this to myself:

“Well, at least I know I’ll never make less money than I am making now.”

That was a dumb thing to say.  From that point on, it must have been my destiny to become an entrepreneur.  While the allure of being my own boss, working with my best friend and, above all else, creating the next big thing drew me to the position I now hold, the challenges are daunting.  For two business-minded people, trying to build a tech company is a tall order.

A couple months ago, I was balancing a demanding full-time job and moonlighting/working weekends on Spogo.  I hoped this would put me in a position to make the leap of faith for which all aspiring entrepreneurs strive.  This isn’t to say that I am an accomplished entrepreneur by any means—the better part of this experience has been a learning exercise in starting a business.

But, as we continue to spend our savings on this idea–one about which we are truly driven to make work, the next few months are sure to be an adventure.  This blog is to serve as firsthand account of our day-to-day enterprise, interesting findings we come across in sports and tech and, most importantly, an insider look at our struggles, laughs, black eyes and (hopefully) successes along the way.

Team Spogo Then and Now (2006 vs 2012)

It Hurts So Good

Growing up during the era of Boston dominance, I’ve learned to love winning. When the Patriots won their first Superbowl in 2002, I was 14 years old in 8th grade. Since that time, Boston teams have won six other major championships (2 more Superbowls, 2 World Series, 1 NBA Championship and 1 Stanley cup). Boston is now the only city ever to have championships in all four major professional leagues within a ten-year span. Not a bad time to grow up in Boston. However, I’m now 24 and have a completely skewed view of how difficult it actually is to win.

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I expect Boston to win every year, in every sport. That isn’t just unrealistic, it’s ludicrous. If a Boston team makes a playoff exit, my mood is legitimately affected for days. For some losses it’s far worse. Even today, I can hardly watch anything related to football, out of pure fear that I may see a Superbowl highlight. What’s strange is that I know perfectly well how insane this is. The morning after the Aaron Boone home run in 2003, I couldn’t get out of bed. My Mom kept yelling, “It’s just a game Andrew!” I know it’s just a game MOMM! I know that I shouldn’t care as much as I do, but unfortunately there’s no stopping it.

The good news is, I think I’ve realized why I have this sickness. It’s not winning that we love as sports fans, it’s losing. We are addicted to losing. That devastating, stomach-churning, empty feeling you get when your team loses a big game in the last few minutes (see 2011 editions of Red Sox and Patriots…or anyone from Buffalo) is what keeps you coming back. I may still have to squint during football highlights today, but I guarantee you come week one, I’ll be right back on the bandwagon, yelling at the TV even louder than I was last season.

While this blog is likely just another one of my pathetic attempts to hedge my emotions in case of another devastating Boston loss; hopefully it sheds some light on the topic we always come back to; why we love sports. Losing has to be a reason. It just hurts so good.

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Entrepreneurial Paranoia

Who reading this has or has had what they think is an amazing business idea?  (Hopefully there are more than 3 people that read this, and the answer to the question I posed is true for the majority or all of you).  I’ve had more than a few.  A football you can fill with alcohol and take sips in between throws during tailgates (my favorite idea but need a Nobel physicist to figure out how to make it spiral with liquid in it).  A mattress divider you insert between two twin mattresses so you can’t feel the crack when you push them together (I got pissed when I saw it in SkyMall magazine).  And more I just can’t remember.

Spogo is the first big idea I’ve had that I am actually pursuing.  When Andrew and I started on Spogo, we had a bad case of paranoia in regards to sharing the idea with others, even those close to us.  We naively thought there was nothing even close to what Spogo is out there, and wanted to keep the concept secret and ours.  We slowly learned that this was dumb.  We NEEDED to share our idea with as many bright people as possible to help shape our vision.  We continue to do so, even without a product on the market.

Sure, we aren’t sharing every single minute detail of our strategic blueprint with everyone whose path we cross.  But to keep an idea secretive in fear of it being stolen is something that should be avoided whenever possible.  As long as you are smart about when and with whom you share and discuss your idea, don’t let it give you the paranoia so many people have—entrepreneurs and non.  The Zuckerberg story has scared off too many people from doing this, and the realization of which I’m writing is one that I’ve learned must come from actually going through this process.  Take the words for what they are, and the advice from whom it comes—heed it or not, it is my perspective and I wish I had known it before having to learn it from experience.

So think, share, learn and go do.  (For anyone that disagrees, please don’t steal our idea.  Thank you).

They did OK in the end.

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