Fanzo Girl
Remembering Startup Weekend #SWSeattle

Startup Weekend is upon us again here in Seattle and every time I see the social buzz around the event I can’t help but remember my experience at F5 Networks two-years-ago. Let’s just say it rocked! This was at a time when I was just pursuing the idea of uniting sports fans so I was new to the scene, very timid and had no clue what to expect. Here’s a breakdown of how the weekend works and what happened.

Friday Night Pitches

The weekend kicks off with everyone from coders to designers to marketing and biz dev people meeting up and preparing to either do a 60-second pitch of their idea, or, to listen to the pitches in order to decide what team you want to join.

  • The pitches were great and I still remember a few of them, including one involving the creation of a cartoon tapeworm that at the time I was like, “What in the heck?!” I also remember one from a guy who wanted to create new Siri voices, possibly with celebrity voices.
  • The audience was super supportive. I got up to give my pitch about midway through and although scary, I gave my pitch and felt pretty good about it! I’ll also never forget walking back to my seat and Startup Weekend organizer Shane Reiser said, “Good pitch!” It’s funny how simple words like that can help give you confidence. Thanks Shane.
  • After all of the pitches teams are formed. Attendees are allowed to vote on their three favorite ideas and those with the most votes move forward to work on their project and give their demo at the end of the weekend. Some of those who pitched were really aggressive about working the room to get votes, others, like me, took a more casual approach. I got some votes and even a couple of people who said they’d like to help. Thanks Mike Sharps for your vote of confidence and for wanting to be a part of my team.
  • The winners were then announced and those teams could move forward to work on their prototype and demo. I was not one of them and totally bummed. But one of the mentors, Rob Zazueta, told me to stay and build anyway. Thanks Rob for your encouragement and for telling me it was okay to break the rules!
  • It was interesting because a couple of the teams that “won” didn’t go on to build. This bugged me because I didn’t understand why they pitched and then got votes when those votes could have gone to other people who were serious.
  • Mike and I began mapping things out and creating wireframes in preparation for the next day.

Saturday 

Time to build! While Mike began building the prototype I prepared for the Demo Night pitch. For the pitch you have to figure out how you’re going to monetize your product, your go-to-market strategy, research your competitors, etc. and create a deck. We really needed another team member to help so another attendee, Nikki, got her friend Ellen (now with Kickstarter) to join us. Thanks you two!

There were sessions throughout the day with others in the industry so you could learn exactly how the deck should look for Demo night and what type of research you should be doing. There was no shortage of help available to the teams to help us plow through. I was also using Twitter to talk about the experience and it was cool seeing Tweets of support coming through from friends near and far like Jeff Slobotski.

I also remember how late in the afternoon a couple of people walked in with beer and I remember thinking, “How cool is this!” Indeed I was getting a dose of startup-land and loved it. I walked to the convenience store to get our team some beer too. Here’s a picture of Mike, Ellen and I!

image

 

Sunday

The final day was a bit more intense as people prepared for Demo Night. Remember that tapeworm pitch? Well these guys (I didn’t know at the time, but they were Kyle Kesterson and Dwayne Mercredi) were providing an incredible break from the intensity as they were testing their prototype. They had created a Kinect game of a cartoon tapeworm that tried to eat food like steaks and carrots as they dropped from the top. For the game, the person (in front of the Kinect) was the tapeworm, jumping up to control it’s body and mouth, trying to eat the food. It was absolutely, ridiculously hilarious and lots of people in the room played. 

Throughout the day people worked hard to wrap things up in time for Demo Night in front of the public including investors. A couple of teams who had been working so hard all weekend weren’t able to complete their projects and dropped out of the pitches.

Demo Night

This was loads of fun but super scary as well. The room was packed with people from the community including reporters and investors. It was awesome seeing the teams pitch because this was the first time we were seeing everyone’s final prototypes and presentations. There was so much talent happening I was blown away. For my presentation, I don’t remember much other than shuffling my feet a lot because I was so nervous. But it was fun and I was glad to be done with it. The judges questions after weren’t too brutal either and although the judges gave really constructive feedback to everyone, they were also very supportive. I also didn’t know her at the time, but now one of those judges, Kate Matsudaira, is a friend and someone I totally look up to. Kyle, Dwayne and their team won first place for the EwAwesome tapeworm (they deserved it!), and 2nd and 3rd place went to my now friend, Sasha for her “Weatherful” idea which crowdsourced weather photos and another team for the ability to send drinks to friends who were in different cities. 

Final Thoughts

I am so grateful for Startup Weekend because while people worked their tails off, everyone was also extremely supportive. By the end of the weekend, I didn’t feel like such a newbie anymore and felt like I could really do this Startup thing. There was an incredible energy that really motivated me too.

But most of all, it created the beginning of a supportive network that still exists today. I’ve become friends with Kyle and Dwayne and they’re now rockin’ it with Freak’n Genuis (check out their app in the app store here)! Sasha has been a great support and she’s now working for Tableau Software that just went through an IPO. I also became friends with Colin Hodge who was working on something completely different at the time but now is the CEO of BWF. My friend Nick Vivion pitched the idea of your “Bucket List” it was so cool. He’s still killin’ it with his travel videos but he also opened Booty’s in NOLA which has been recognized in Vogue and BBC Travel. Renee Warren was at this Startup Weekend too and she went on to begin Onboardly. Talk about talent galore!

So if you’re at Startup Weekend now, or planning on attending one in the future, remember that yes, you build and create a presentation for Demo Night. But there’s a good chance you’re also building an amazing network of people who are in this fight with you, whom you’ll count on and will be your friends. So take it all in, open yourself up and go for it! It will be more than worth it.

Dana  

 

Fan Reactions to #Pelini #Huskers #GBR

We’re seeing lots of posts coming through Fanzo from top Husker fans and analysts in regards to Bo Pelini. Here are a few of the hottest posts from both sides of the table.

image

image

image

Fanzo ranks sports fans and the content they share in social media. To follow the hottest fans and analysts and see what they’re sharing, download Fanzo for iOS here.

A Question That Changed My Life: My Six-Year Path To Startup Co-Founder

Looking back it seems so simple… “Where are all of the Husker fans in Seattle?” This is the question I asked myself six-years-ago after moving to Seattle from Omaha. Being new to the city, I wanted a taste of home… The “Sea of Red” and the familiarity with the crazy excitement and incredible fandom that went along with Husker game day. Little did I know that this question would change my life and be the beginning of the most amazing path I could ever dream of. But for this new path to happen for me, this had to take place…

Safe World Crashing

I won’t go on too much about this but my professional career, and a great one, had been as a television news reporter in Omaha and then moving on to the world of PR. My time in this world was awesome. Even solving problems through the difficult moments was quite simple because it’s a world that was natural to me. It’s what I went to school for, built up contacts in, a community around… I’m super grateful especially as I’m still friends (some of my best friends) with a lot of people from that world and adore them. But I have always had a rebellious side to me. It’s hard to sit still as I’ve been one to want to explore, learn, grow, take risks, explore, learn, grow, repeat x10. Safe job at WOWT = leave to be first in-house PR MGR at Qwest Center Omaha. Safe job at QCO = recruited away and left to turn tix sales around at AHL team of Calgary Flames (even though I was warned not to go by my bosses because the team wasn’t staying in Omaha). I did leave though and our awesome team did turn sales and awareness around in a massive way. But two months later, boom… announcement that the team was moving (duh, should have listened to my arena bosses). Risk finally caught up to me. But this was also a blessing as I wanted to move on from Omaha. I ended up in Seattle for a PR job at Qwest Communications. A huge reason I took it was because my Grandma Peggy worked in telecom her entire life, did very well and retired. “I can follow in Grandma Peggy’s footsteps!” Plus, Seattle was beautiful AND I’d be working on the same team as a former WOWT colleague of mine and best friend, Kara (who was still in Omaha, but hey, same team)! This was so cool to me. So off I was to Seattle. Thank you Kara and our former bosses Skip and Kirk for bringing me out here… I’m so grateful and have been in love with this city since arriving.

It was at that time, when I first moved out here in 2007, when that fateful question was asked. I thought it was a question to help me find my way to new friends… not a new life.

Blah Blah Blah! Let’s Jump Ahead

You know that paragraph headline above, “Safe World Crashing?” Well it kept crashing and crashing. After about a year-and-a-half at Qwest, a huge round of layoffs took place. I was one of them. I wanted to stay in Seattle as I loved it here. The market was terrible though. I made it to the finalist rounds for several positions but a couple of them gave me the same feedback… “If you want to stay in Seattle, you should get some Startup experience.” My former boss even worked to get me back at Qwest but I turned it down as I was feeling anxiety over the corporate world. I wanted to do the startup route and found a biz dev job at one but not after trying for a month or two to land the position via free-work and coming up with ideas to prove that I was a fit and committed. My boss, Krish, was something special and taught me the beginnings of Yoga in order to maintain mental stability (thank you Krish). Our team worked hard with him to make this thing roll but eventually, funding ran out. Layoff number three… in three years.

#TFL - Totally (you know what) Lost

It’s very safe to say that it was around this time that I started to lose my stuff. It was a slow build… but here it was, smacking me in the face. I had always been the person to “Be strong!” and kept everyone else going and “saved” them (which actually is never saving but enabling). I was always the person that would go above and beyond to make things okay in bad situations… horrible situations without regard to myself and completely putting others before how I was feeling. It’s weird that at this time that I felt like crap for three layoffs, it was at the same time that a lot of that personal stuff crept up too. I had managed to keep going and going in the past. But at this time, I was indeed #TFL. Money = gone. Sanity = gone. Confidence = gone. A purpose in life = gone. There’s A LOT that goes into this beyond this post, but it was a dark, dark time. This is around the year 2010 right now. Perhaps someday I’ll write more on this time, but for right now I’d like to just tell people that if you are feeling trapped and completely lost, you’re not alone, you have purpose and people love you. We all have dark days and it’s really ok. Just reach out to ONE person. You’ll find safety and comfort.

Lesson: Don’t ever, ever, ever try to handle everything on your own including emotions. It will eventually catch up to you, and you’ll be screwed, not to mention how you’ll break the hearts of those who love you because you didn’t let them in.

A Better Life

Indeed it was time for things to change. While I tried to figure things out I fell back on my safety net of PR and did freelance consulting which was a nice, smooth transition which I knew I’d do well in. It’s how BoastHouse was born! I loved this name and my great friend Rebecca Luong did my logo. I did small mom and pop shops for pennies to get clients under my belt and eventually Qwest hired me as a consultant for the M&A with CenturyLink as well as the rebranding of Qwest Field here in Seattle, Qwest Center Omaha Arena and Convention Center and Qwest Arena in Boise. Things were looking up! But there was something else in the works… that question… “Where are all of the Husker fans in Seattle?” It kept creeping up.

I Abandoned What Was Safe: Took a Leap of Faith

In the summer of 2011 I was noticing a pattern of a lot of people asking that same question. They were tweeting, “Just moved to San Francisco where are the Huskers at?!” or “Traveling to New York, where do the Manchester United fans hang out at?!” It was enough of these questions being asked that made me think there was a definite problem here that needed to be solved.

I started researching and building a Google Docs database of the designated watch sites (bars) for all of the NCAA football teams in the Top 20 cities in the US (Seattle, New York, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, etc.). While I was building this I immersed myself in the Seattle Startup community. I’ll never forget being horrified as I walked into the new world of networking with tech geniuses and startup founders. I mean come on, networking in this world shouldn’t be hard for me! After all I’m a former news reporter and PR exec totally used to putting myself out there and loads of people in that world who supported me. But this was different and it was hard… It’s because it was an entirely new world which I knew nothing of other than how brilliant things were happening in this world and was I worthy? Could I possibly be a part of it?

I kept going. I did a Startup Weekend and built a working prototype with my team, Mike and Ellen, in time for Demo Night. I then attended another Startup event that turned about to be amazing because I met Micah Baldwin and got to pitch the idea to him. Micah told me there was something to this, go find a technical co-founder, build it and keep him posted. So I did. At all of these events I found enormous support from the Seattle Startup community… overwhelming support and encouragement. I was really moved by the energy (still am). But then something even more incredible happened. I went to a Lean Startup event in the TechStars building on the Amazon Campus where Dan Shapiro was the guest speaker. Dan said several things that night that struck me including that nothing is too good to be true. He spoke about while on this journey if you feel you’ve met someone who’s too good to be true or a potential path seems too good to be true, it’s not. It’s meant to be, embrace it and keep going. At this event people also had a chance to give a 15-second pitch to the audience on what you’re doing and what you need. There’s quite the funny story to this which I can talk about another time, but I was the last person to pitch. I talked to lots of people after but there was one in particular that struck me and I felt like it was meant to be even before he told me who he was. It was my now Co-Founder Paul (former Smilebox CTO; $40-mill exit). I knew that the pieces were falling into place.  

Here We Are

From that summer of building a Google Docs database on Watch Sites to today (which is an entirely different blog post), Fanzo is in the iOS app store as a different and far more exciting product. It’s been a 2-year journey from idea to pivot to pivot to pivot with loads of highs and lows but here we are and I couldn’t be any more thrilled and proud of the Fanzo team, Paul, Wayne, David and Austin. I adore these guys and feel extreme gratitude for them. He moved on to Apple, but our former team member Frank helped Paul and I as our Creative Director in the beginning stages and we miss him. We also had two High School students (at the time), Matt and Javi, helping us out after finding us on Twitter. Javi went on to Brown but dropped out for a semester to join us in the Microsoft/TechStars Accelerator. Matt and Javi are a cherished part of the Fanzo family too. The former Smilebox team with Paul, including his former boss Andrew and team members C.Y. and Carl have been actively involved in Fanzo, even investing in it. How amazing are they?! Not to mention my dearest friends, family, our mentors, other investors (including family members of Paul and I) and those in the community who’ve freely given of their time and talents to help us grow… it’s overwhelming. And oh yeah, Micah is still a part of Fanzo too, helping to advise us! It’s incredibly humbling to think of all of these people who rally around you because they believe in you.

You Do Deserve The Life You Want (and here are some tips to help make it happen).

  • If you believe in it, you absolutely have to keep moving forward: Passion and support from others will help give you fuel.
  • I’ve followed my heart and gut the entire time. Listen to yours.
  • It’s not all rainbows and puppies: Taking a big risk is really, really, really, really hard and sometimes you won’t know what you’re doing. Keep going!
  • People will hate on you, let them. Others will smile to your face then stab you in the back seconds later. Shady? Yup. Let them be shady. Point is… don’t waste an ounce of energy on them. Those people mean nothing in your world and are only distractions. 
  • Open up and reveal yourself… Get raw and vulnerable.
  • Let people in. Don’t push them away.
  • Believe in your path.

Thank you for letting me share my six-year path from that question, to today. If there’s one regret I have it’s that I haven’t written more about this experience as it’s been one of the most amazing roads I’ve been a part of. I don’t want that to happen again so am going to write more regularly. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Reach out anytime, here, or on Twitter: @danad103

Have faith that the path you’re on and the things taking place are exactly how it’s supposed to be. (And don’t forget to listen to the questions in your head along the way!)

Dana

Fan Spotlight: Brittney Jacks #Yankees #NYY #SuperFan

Fanzo loves the passion that sports fans share so much, we believe you should be put in the spotlight! As part of this, we do “Fan Spotlights” from time to time. Here is the latest fan we’d love for you to meet… Say hello to Brittney Jacks! She’s a dedicated Yankees fan who witnessed Jorge Posada’s second Grand Slam in two days in 2010, went to the World Series Champions Parade in 2009 and even has a Yankees tattoo.

Get to know more about Brittney’s fandom below! 

 
 
 
What it means to be a NY Yankees Fan:
 
 
 
"I am a Yankee fan for many reasons. I love that wherever you go, whether it be to work in the tri-state area, to school in a different state or on vacation to a different country, you can always find someone who is sporting the infamous interlocking ‘NY’."
 
 
"The great history we preserve and continue to create is why being a Yankee fan is so exciting. There are a few things that never change with the New York Yankees and I think Derek Jeter said it best in his farewell speech in 2008 after the final game played in the “old” Yankee Stadium, ‘Pride, tradition and most of all, we have the greatest fans in the world."
 
 

 
 
 
Memories:
 
 
"Whether it be in the Bronx, on the television at home, on the radio in the car or the sports ticker at the bottom of ESPN, memories are always being made. My favorites would have to be the first time I walked into the “old” Yankee Stadium and took a break taking glimpse of the field, being Bleachers Section 203 to witness Jorge Posada’s second grand slam for the second day straight in 2010, going to Spring Training in Tampa being so close to the players and being a “proud New Yorker” at the 2009 World Series Champions Parade down the Canyon of Heroes."
 
 
 
 
"I have been a Yankee fan for as long as I remember, watching all the World Series’ during my childhood at home in 1998-2000. I would say I became very interested in baseball in 2009 when the new stadium opened and have just immersed myself into a die-hard fan since then, not to mention getting a Yankee tattoo."
 
 
 
For Fun… Interesting Routines:
 
 
"I am always wearing Derek Jeter’s Turn2 Foundation bracelet and I consider it bad luck if I take it off. During the postseason, I wear a big replica World Series ring that I received as a giveaway at the stadium a few years ago as well as paint my nails with pinstripes during that awesome time of year."
 
 
You’re great Brittney! You can follow her on Twitter here at @bjacks21. 
 
 
To find other passionate fans, download Fanzo for iOS right here
Fan/Family Reactions to @CoreyDaRealDeal | @emerald_joyce @prettygirlphe @cpershingb #MLBDraft #Mariners

Seattle Mariners’ Draftee Corey Simpson Tweets this:

Fanzo picks up on awesome reactions including Tweets from family members and longtime supporters:

Fanzo is where fans rule. Our iOS app launches this summer with live streams of the hottest fan content as determined by the Fanzo Score. Talk to us at @FanzoFans or dana@fanzo.me for early access to the app.

startupquote:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.
- Reid Hoffman

startupquote:

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

- Reid Hoffman

Epic Icon, Epic Tweet… 15 reactions to “Warren is in the house.” | @WarrenBuffett

In case you missed it, the Oracle of Omaha hit the Twittersphere today with “Warren is in the house” as his first Tweet. At the time of this writing, Mr. Buffett has amassed 228,428 Twitter followers with his first Tweet announcing his arrival being RT’d more than 30-thousand times (not to mention the replies and favorites). Here are a few of the replies… Enjoy!

One…

image

Two…

image

Three…

image

Four…

image

Five…

image

Six…

image

Seven…

image

Eight…

image

Nine…

image

Ten…

image

Eleven…

image

Twelve…

image

Thirteen…

image

Fourteen…

image

Finally… a little tongue-in-cheek from Mr. Clinton who only recently joined himself… 

image

10 Celebs Who Hit the Twitter Streets in Support of Kevin Ware

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Fanzo Sweet Sixteen Social Media Smackdown #Sweet16 #MarchMadness

Fanzo ranks sports fans based off their social media activity and highlights the top fans of teams. Individual fan scores tally up to their team score, so we thought we’d have some fun with March Madness “Social Media Smackdowns!”

Let’s see if the results here translate into who wins on the court. (Results are calculated in real-time and fluctuate accordingly.) Enjoy!

Louisville 182,595 v. Oregon 90,281
Duke 254,607 v. Michigan St. 113,004
La Salle 13,000 v. Wichita State 9,481
Ohio State 313,482 v. Arizona 67,253
Michigan 353,690 v. Kansas 271,505
Indiana 264,468 v. Syracuse 161,707
Marquette 34,188 v. Miami 34,062
Florida Gators 84,949 v. FGCU 812

Follow Fanzo on Twitter at @FanzoFans and check out us out here: http://www.fanzo.me/ (iPhone app being built as we speak).