Matt Bailey has always been a big sports fan. In his home country of Australia, that means rooting for cricket and rugby teams. When he arrived in Brooklyn, it meant learning the intricacies of American football, baseball, and hockey.
But Bailey didn’t just want to watch; he wanted to participate. He played fantasy football but found it too time consuming. He thought about newly-legal wagering, but didn’t have enough knowledge to bet real money on games. Why couldn’t he make some simple predictions about sporting events — like which team will win, who will gain the most yards, and who will score the first touchdown?
It led him to build GameOn, which offers simple prediction contests for everyday fans. A typical GameOn game features about eight questions. Players accumulate points with each correct answer. It’s free to play, brand supported, and winners earn cash prizes.
“We’re breaking down engagement barriers for people who don’t necessarily know a lot about sports,” said Bailey. “We’re turning standard moments — like a touchdown or a player gaining a certain amount of yards — into what feels like match-winning moments for the fan as they’re getting right answers.”
Gameplay is super simple. There’s no player drafting, no hard-to-understand point system, and no reliance on complicated analysis and knowledge before actually playing.
“Platforms built for fantasy leagues are made for hardcore fans, and there are serious engagement barriers for the everyday fan,” said Bailey. “We feel that all fans, both experts and novices, will enjoy our platform because it is both challenging to win and accessible at the same time.”
Be Transparent and Communicate
Bailey spent his career working in brand partnerships for sports teams and creative agencies. He even founded the Brooklyn Kings Rugby League Football Club. His philosophy on running (and growing) companies is akin to being successful at sports: keep a positive attitude through the highs and lows.
“Everyone has to understand that there will be ups and downs,” he said. “As long as we communicate, work on any issues and quickly get past them, we’re all going to be okay.”
For 13 weeks this summer, Bailey and GameOn’s Head of Product and Technology, Chuck Kelly, have been living and working in Philadelphia taking part in the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. They’re meeting with valuable mentors inside and outside of Comcast NBCUniversal and gaining incredible insight into their business models and investor pitches. One pilot underway is with Comcast Business for
engaging restaurant and bar patrons through the Xfinity X1 entertainment platform.
“We have our foot in the door with multiple people within Comcast, the Philly region, and Philly’s sports landscape,” said Bailey. “From the introductions to the curriculum, it’s been 10 out of 10 so far.”
One lesson they’ve already learned is to continue iterating on the product so it becomes a go-to part of any sports fan’s day.
“Our number one focus is honing in on the product. We’re getting into the nitty gritty of user funnels. Where are people dropping off? What’s working? What isn’t?” said Bailey. “We’re refining that, then moving into growth mode as the NFL season heats up.”
Kelly is a life-long tinkerer who even founded a few social networks (his most recent was Campus Chill.) He’s become a startup addict and can’t see himself working in any other type of company.
“I’ve lived life with a startup and without it, and I’m always happier in a startup,” said Kelly. “It’s something I want to wake up early for, and stay up late for. Running a startup is the best feeling in the world to me.”
Kelly has been particularly enjoying the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator and says working side-by-side with the other 10 startups in the cohort is pushing the GameOn team to work harder.
“Being around people who are so motivated helps us stay motivated. We’re around other startups going through similar struggles and there’s a lot of relatability there,” said Kelly.
The future is bright for GameOn. The product is being refined every day and they’re continually attracting new users.
“If you build an amazing product and build something sports fans really appreciate,” said Kelly, “they’ll come back and play again and again.”