March Madness is about to start, and for many friends and co-workers, that means it’s betting time. This year, however, RRE Ventures-backed startup numberFire wants you to make those bets based on real data and math.
The company just launched a new Facebook app called the March Radness Challenge. The problem, says CEO Nik Bonaddio, is that most people have no idea who’s going to win each game in the basketball tournament. That’s where numberFire comes in, bringing what Bonaddio calls a “MoneyBall-ish” approach to sports: “The data is there, so let’s use math and the power of big data/distributed computing to unlock the secrets of what’s actually going on, and then use that to understand what will happen next.”
The app allows you to create a March Madness pool, and it handles all the scoring. As you’re filling out the bracket, it also displays a “need help?” link. If you click on it, you’ll see the numberFire projection for the game, as well as the analytics and data behind that projection. That way, you’re not just betting based on instinct and sentiment. (Disclosure: I know pathetically little about March Madness, but TechCrunch writer Rip Empson assures me that the app is “cool” and “crazy smaht.”) (Yes, he said “smaht” in an email.)
numberFire also partnered with StubHub to offer $50 gift cards as a prize to the biggest groups in the app, and with Thrillist for recommendations on where to watch the games. (Thrillist is also helping with marketing.) And if you pick every item correctly, you’re eligible to win a $100,000 prize.