We all know that fantasy sports is a huge and growing business. But when it comes to fantasy sports on mobile, most apps are just companion experiences used by fantasy sports players to track how their teams are doing. A new fantasy sports app called Draft hopes to change that, and has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding to do so.
Draft was founded by Jeremy Levine and Nicolo Giorgi, the guys who had previously built daily fantasy sports site StarStreet and sold it to Draftkings last year. After that acquisition closed in August, the two wasted no time in moving onto their next venture.
The Draft team hoped to create a real-money fantasy gaming experience that was built specifically for mobile. Levine notes that most daily fantasy players are doing their picks on a desktop with several browser windows open and spreadsheets to track the value of players each day. But that doesn’t translate very well to the smaller screen.
For Draft, the founders wanted to take all the fun of daily fantasy sports games but make it easy to enjoy on a smartphone. To make the game appealing on mobile, Levine and his team borrowed some of the mechanics of popular turn-based games and applied them to the real-money fantasy sports world.
So they drew inspiration from games like Words With Friends, Draw Something, and QuizUp, all of which rely on asynchronous turn-based gameplay between challengers. In Draft, players take turns drafting players against one another to see who can assemble the best team.
“It’s like Words With Friends, but instead of making a word, you’re drafting a team,” Levine told me.
Users can either play for free — if they’re not confident in their team — or match up to play for real money. Players can choose from different stakes and levels of payout, from a $5.50 match with a $10 prize to a $55 wager which pays out $100 to the winner.
The app launched on iOS in December, but already it’s attracted the interest of investors to the tune of $3.5 million. That funding was led by Upfront Ventures, and includes participation from Advancit Capital, David Tisch’s BoxGroup, The Chernin Group, and Nas’ QueensBridge Venture Partners. With the new capital, the founders hope to grow the team from four to nine in the coming months, mostly looking to hire iOS developers and engineers.