Back in September, we wrote about numberFire, a New York City-based startup that’s attempting to bring a deep, scientific approach to your fantasy football picks. At the time, the startup was preparing to graduate (along with ten other stalwart companies) from the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, a seed-funding, mentor-providing NYC-based startup accelerator, and we also reported that NumberFire was also on the way to closing a solid round of seed funding.
Last night, numberFire officially closed its first round of funding, nabbing a $750,000 seed investment, led by RRE Ventures, with contributions from private investment firm, Penny Black, and TechStars Managing Director David Tisch, among others. As a result of the funding, Eliot Durbin, the Managing Director of Penny Black, will be joining the startup’s board of directors.
NumberFire Founder and CEO Nik Bonaddio (who also won $100,000 from Regis Philbin on the one-and-only “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” back in 2010) tells us that, specifically, the startup closed a total of $650K yesterday, but the final $100K has been signed, and will be in-pocket once that pesky holiday paperwork clears. It’s not as easy as cashing a check from Regis Philbin, okay?
And to that point, that’s something that you have to admire about Bonaddio. Most people probably would have taken the money they won on a gameshow and bought a new Porsche, but Bonaddio used it as capital to start numberFire in true entrepreneurial fashion. (Though he’s probably tired of hearing about the show by this point.)
The founder first tested numberFire at TechCrunch Disrupt in NYC 2010, and since then the Pittsburgh native has graduated from ER Accelerator, relaunched numberFire, has seen traffic steadily grow, and a number of big-name partners come calling. NumberFire is currently at about 20K registered users and has partnered with ESPN, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation, and has contributed to blog posts for Sports Illustrated.
But what does numberFire do, you ask? You can read our most recent, in depth profile here, but, simply put, the team has created custom, proprietary algorithms that take all stat-crunching out of your hands when it comes to making predictions about your fantasy sports teams. This means that, as fantasy sports fans, you can import your existing teams from Yahoo or ESPN’s fantasy websites and quickly get started — or customize updates and activity feeds, following teams and players that they are interested in to receive news, updated projections, etc.
And, as mentioned, beyond operating as a tool for fans and fantasy gamers, numberFire works with writers and bloggers from sports content sites like ESPN and Sports Illustrated to enable them to embed widgets and take advantage of their stat machine to create season long projections and more. The startup initially targeted football, but they’ve since expanded to basketball, and, in turn, recently launched their own statistical NERD category that measures NBA players’ efficiency and value. It seems they’re trying to bring Bill James-style Sabermetrics to the NBA and beyond.
The startup will be going after some partnerships ahead of March Madness, so stay tuned for that. And while the mention of Bill James and stats might lead you to believe that baseball, the mother of all stat-driven sports, would be easy fodder for numberFire. But there’s also a lot more competition in baseball number crunching at this level, from FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus, etc., so numberFire is (for now) keeping to the sports where the demand is high and the market isn’t as saturated. Hopefully hockey is on the way, but I’m not crossing my fingers.
Of course, the big question is, how well does it work? Well, take this snapshot of some of the Web’s predictions for Week 15 of the NFL season, for example. NumberFire is at the top of the list. What’s more, as BetaBeat reported yesterday, a couple of months ago, the site took some bad flack from the blogosphere for predicting that three teams from the AFC North would make the playoffs. Well, contrary to popular belief, they did. How ’bout dem apples?
And the best part? NumberFire is free.
For more, check out numberFire at home here.