As part of the Stronger Together series, we are taking a closer look at the impact of the interwoven startup ecosystem that UP Global and Techstars work within. Together, our now united organizations work to accelerate the pace of innovation and empower entrepreneurs to build companies that change the world.
In this series we’ll spotlight teams who have been a part of both UP Global programs and Techstars to explore the impact the integration of both programs has had or is having on their entrepreneurial journey.
Andrew Busa CEO of FantasyHub tells us about his journey through entrepreneurship and the role Startup Next and Techstars has played in it.
When did you realize you were an entrepreneur?
I think everyone has a little bit of entrepreneurship in them. I’ve had a knack for getting people to move on ideas. I have always been a thinker, observer and problem solver.
In hindsight, I realized I had an obsession with creating something out of nothing is when I first got my hands on RollerCoaster Tycoon as a kid. Hated the missions.. Sandbox mode all the way.
How did it start for you? Was there a spark or revealing moment?
FantasyHub culminated from being the consumer and experiencing pains. Curiosity got the best of me and I jotted down 9 pages of notes with all of the problems in fantasy sports. Ideas are one thing, but once you take an idea and run with it are truly the revealing moments of what one is capable of.
What was your biggest feeling associated with the beginning of your journey?
Care-free and hungry… The idea came during my last year of college.. I was fortunate to not have a family or other commitments.. I had little to lose and everything to gain. The only opportunities I turned down was a position with the Cleveland browns and going to get my MBA..
What is your one-sentence company pitch?
The toms shoe of fantasy sports.
What problem is your company trying to solve?
Our goal is to deliver a product that gives more fans more reasons to play fantasy sports. Ultimately, to eliminate the excuses people make to try and play (it takes too much time.. I don’t want to lose money..). The space has changed in a way where other companies in the space have lost focus on the motivations on why people play with fantasy sports.
What value proposition does your company offer over competitors?
Every game on our platform delivers money to charity. There is more to this than meets the eye. It has been fascinating to see the response from our users and their commitment to our mission. We are combining two polar opposite behaviors, altruism and gaming, which is associated with selfishness
What are your short-term future challenges? Longer term?
It’s always making do with as little as possible but yet enough to continue showing more and more progress. Longer term is just the uncertainty of changing market conditions and growing in a way which is consistent with our vision but not being unfocused about outside opportunities, which stretch our focus.
The fact we are still here. Also, getting into Techstars after three application periods. We almost didn’t apply the third time.
You went through the Startup Next program, what was the hardest thing for you to overcome there?
Continuing to question what we were doing and becoming aware of the areas we were deficient in.
Any advice for others entering Startup Next?
Act like you know nothing. Absorb as much as you can and ask good questions, especially ask good questions.
Team makeup then and now?
Then, three non-tech cofounders and two full stack developers. Now, +two front end developers and an SEO intern. (My first cofounder was someone whom I had known since 3rd grade.)
Were you involved in any other Startup programs?
- Pitch events at Louisville, The University of Tennessee, Cincinnati
- Techstars (current, demo day June 17th in Austin).
What was your experience at Techstars?
The experience has been more than amazing. It takes balance for the companies who are further along, balancing meeting mentors and workshops with the daily operations of a live business.
It is not just the amazing mentors who have been through a great deal to rely on, but the staff who lives it with us every day for three months, and the quality of the other companies in the program with us.
What benefit did you gain from attending both Startup Next and Techstars?
The ability to work with people who know more than us. Being young founders, we have and will make a lot of mistakes. We realized very early that finding outside eyes and minds to help with problems we are facing helps move things incredibly quicker. It’s having an amazing group of people who you can reach out to and also give back; in short, it’s a brotherhood.
Timeline: Idea (September 2012) à Initial business model building (8mos) à Family friends money, established LLC in Louisville, KY & first cofounder officially joined (July 2013) à Designs of initial idea (October 2013) à Pivoted model to DFS for charity & Alpha release, second employee joins (now cofounder) (January 2014) à First outside investment (March 2014) à Initial MVP “Kickstarter meets ESPN” (April 2014) à Hired two full stack employees (June 2014) à Small investment round (August 2014) à First athlete game for charity with Kurt Warner (September 2014) 7 athlete games later, we launched our daily fantasy lobby for the last 3 weeks of football (December 2014) à $1,000 a week in user spending, 2000 registered users, hired fulltime front end developer, small investment round (January 2015) à Accepted into Techstars, moved to Austin (for Techstars), run 26 athlete campaign for March Madness (March 2015) à $12,000 in spending per week, over 12k users, over $70k raised for charity to date, hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out to users from games, gearing up for seed investment round for demo day (now).
- Employees: 8
- Customers served: 12,000+
- Fantasy Games launched: 3,000+
- Revenue generated: shhh
- Partners signed up: 50+
- Funding secured: $470k, pre-seed
- Industry: Fantasy Sports, online gaming
- City: Austin
- Country: USA
- Platform: Web, Mobile, App (in review for App Store)