Vox Pop

Development — Software, Personal, or Otherwise

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Tradegrade Hackathon Kickoff

Or How I'm Not Internet Irrelevant Yet


In the past year I've started a number of quickly abandoned thoughts about the half life of developers, particularly those that create for the Internet. I don't know if its a professional mid-life crisis or spending the last year working with a number of 20-somethings at a startup. It is certainly not helped by the ridiculous sums of money seemingly thrown at founders as much for surviving puberty as creating a great product.

"So when are you going to do your own thing?" my wife recently asked. It's a good question. Free time is nearly always filled with moonlit client work (when not at the daylit startup). It's fulfilling but, ultimately, the results aren't mine. Meanwhile, my entrepreneurial biological clock continues to tick in an industry stuck on fast-forward.

So, my understanding wife packed up the kids and drove off for a week with our out-of-state parents. I got a couple days off from the startup. Combine that with the Fourth of July holiday and that means I've got about a week to make something. The goal isn't Instagram (although that would be nice). The idea is something much closer to a personal research project. At best, I have a microISV that generates additional revenue to support new projects. At worst I gain a bunch of new skills.

Every year 27 million Americans directly spend $800 million playing fantasy sports. That money is for things like league fees, draft magazines, sports website insider access, etc. Factor in network media like Direct TV's NFL Sunday Ticket and Sirius XM's Sports packages and that number balloons to $5 billion. And of that amount 71% is spent on fantasy football. So people spend real money on fake sports.

Yet, despite that massive amount of consumer interest, many fantasy football sites resemble AltaVista search results from 1998. And forget using nearly any of these on a mobile device. Google and Apple have demonstrated that strong design is a competitive advantage and key differentiator, especially in a crowded marketplace. So this seems like a logical place to start: a passion ( fantasy football) and opportunity ( sucktacular mobile experiences ).

This week I'll be grinding on TradeGrade.it. It's a mobile-optimized resource for fantasy football owners wrestling with a trade decision. It doesn't matter whether players want validation that they made the right decision or are researching who they can afford to let go. In either case they'll get real time feedback on the most essential component for winning over the duration of a season. Think of it as "Hot or Not" for fantasy trades - for those, that is, that remember when ‘Hot or Not' wasn't just another social network.

*sigh* I'm so Internet old.

Here we go!