ScoreStream , CEO & Co-Founder
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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to work on this startup idea?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
Yeah. So I I worked in the entertainment industry in my twenties and thirties. Early thirties. Um, and I had always wanted to do startups. Um, I always wanted my own business. I'd managed businesses in my twenties and thirties on dso I At the end of the nineties, I had an opportunity. Thio start looking at startups as an opportunity and, um, jumped in, and I've been doing it for 22 years now.

What is the elevator pitch of your startup? What problem does it solve? How were your customers solving their pain point before your startup?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
so basically, we are ways for local sports. So if you're familiar with ways, which is the traffic application which crowd sources, traffic information, we do the same thing for local sports. So in the past, when I was a kid, you would wake up on Saturday morning and read the newspaper, and there would be six pages of high school sports reports, uh, that those newspapers are mostly out of business now, or if they're not, they don't have the resources to cover it. And so instead, we do crowdsourcing on DSO. People can submit scores on their smartphone. We have a Web interface, um, and whatnot, and we cover about 15 to 25,000 games per week. Um, the problem we're solving there is that there's a lot of interest in local sports, but the media outlets that covered them don't exist anymore. Andi, I'd say, you know, the way customers have been trying to find it historically were newspapers. People will text the scores to each other. Some people post on Twitter, but it was kind of a mess. And so we've been able to consolidate the distribution of the scores, um, to users. We also distributed out to media. So we actually work with all the leading newspaper groups. Radio TV groups were gonna Amazon. We work a Snapchat on and off for the year, So s so we've been able to consolidate all of those pieces.

Can you walk us through your first few weeks when you started working on this project? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
sure. Yeah. So when we started, you know, when you look at user generated content platforms, there's a very small percentage of the audience that contributes content. Um and so for for a scorekeeping application, you know, we knew only a couple percent of people would score a game. And so we built our first version of our product as M. V P. That allowed you to score games and post those scores Thio, Facebook, Twitter and SMS. And we knew that 90 plus percent of the people who download our app would be looking for scores, not wanting to submit scores. But we actually had a lot of people who did want to submit scores, um, to people. And so that's where we sort of validated in M v P and then started to change the company. I'd say over the next few months, you know, we realized that it's gonna take a long time to build the audience. It wasn't obvious how to build the distribution, and so we kind of went, um, after having done just the initial sort of, you know, planning on the company, we spent the next two years really building out the tool sets before we ever raised any outside meaningful outside capital. Um And so I think after those first few weeks into those first few months, we realized we had to build a bunch of tools to be able to support the ideas that we had, and so there was a lot of time spent building the platform.

What were the challenges in building the initial team and how did you overcome them? How did the team's composition, dynamics, time, and resource commitment evolve?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
Yes. So our team, I have three co founders and we've all worked together on and off for 20 years. A different start ups. Um, you know, two of us air Technical two of us are business people s O. That was It was pretty straightforward, To be honest, we you know, we had a really good division of labor. Um, you know, I did a lot of the sales and business development. We have another business person who did a lot of the general administrative type of things, and then one of the engineers focused on overall platform and a P I and the other focused on mostly mobile application development. So for us, unfortunately, we had a team sort of a complete team. We knew each other. We worked together before on DSO. That was fairly straightforward. We didn't really even add people until after we raised capital. So the four of us kind of pushed on over a period about two years. Yeah,

How did your venture get its first professional funding? What were the challenges and how were they overcome? How'd your fundraising efforts change in subsequent rounds?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
So we ended up raising from venture capital firm that I'd raised from before several times. Um, they're one of our investors, and the other investors were our partners. So score stream is unique of the other. I've been involved in five venture backed startups, and score stream is unique in that we have seven strategic investors. So we have, ah, lot of strategic smoked of my other companies had one usually maybe, maybe one. Um And so for us, it was really getting the people who we were doing business with. We had two different large TV station group, Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Broadcasting, who both wanted to be investors were both partners on DSO. We you know, we negotiated term sheets with them and we, um we're able to bring in a venture fund that we had worked with before. So for us, it was fairly straightforward. Um, I think the biggest challenges are that sports a time was a hard category. I'd say it's still pretty hard, but, you know, VCs don't like the best in sports generally. Like I said, they probably change the last 3 to 4 years. But you know, certainly, you know, six years ago is still pretty hard. Um, you know, I think after that first round, we actually then ended up raising from other strategic. So we raised from Intel and we brought in investors like I Heart and the Associated Press. So it really was for us, Mawr Channel partners. That made sense from a business perspective. And so it was. It was different than my other startups, but it was It kind of made a lot of sense. So a lot of our investors are our partners, and they use our product on, but they have a vested interest in our success in promoting us.

How did you set the scope for your minimal viable product? How did you get to product-market fit? How did your product evolve over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
you know, So we are minimal of our product was very minimal. So we had to do a lot of work to fix that. And by the time we got from we started in April of 2012 we actually had a full product in place by August of 2012 on the mobile side. And so, um, at that time, we actually had a partner in the radio business in San Diego. And we had a journalism partner up in the Bay Area who wanted scoreboards, and so we created products for them. Basically, JavaScript and I frame scoreboard widgets to put on their websites, and that was they liked it and thought it was great. And we thought it was fine. Um, in the later on that fall, we started working with Yahoo in North Carolina and Florida for their high school sports coverage, and we had a lot of success with them. But they said, Hey, this is great. Where the other games and like it's crowd sourcing, we have whatever we get, you know, it's not one of those things. So So we ended up the lessons from that experience where that we needed to build more tools for them. And we need to figure out ways Thio capture more of the market early on dso between the fall of 2012 and the fall of 2013 we did a lot of development work that to build out that platform. And then we had a couple other fundamental ah ha discoveries when we started the year of 2013. Um, so we developed some new tools for that. That really helped us do a lot of the well today we would refer to as our ai machine learning validation framework. Um, but that hadn't been done at the time. And so, you know, we announced a deal in the fall of 2013 with Gannett with U S. A. Today. And then we ended up doing our first funding in the early part of 2014 was Sinclair. So it was. It was really tweaking off the basic concept. We have never really pivoted from the basic concept. It's been mawr understanding what people in the marketplace wanted and trying to build up that suites suite of products for them

Who were your early users? What marketing channels, approaches, and marketing tools did you use to contact users? What worked and what didn't?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
so in early users were, you know, they intended to be parents or fans of teams. Eso you know, a typical user profile might be a 45 year old male who who has kids playing travel sports, and so they would want to keep the parents updated at a remote tournament on DSO. That was sort of the original user profile that that we just ended up with. Um, we ultimately thought our user would become high school students that people who go to school care about this. Um, that was not the case. Um, but from a marketing channel perspective and approaches and tools, you know, the main one for us was business development. So doing partnerships with the big TV station groups, you know, like someone like Sinclair has 170 TV stations. Tribune had about 50 s, So we did deals with all of those guys and we're on literally 1500 media outlet websites. And so those those media outlets would tell people, Hey, if you want to get the scores on TV, use the score stream app onda, submit the scores and then they'll come into our system and we'll be able to share it with other viewers s. So that was really a big A big part of it was business, development and strategy. We also did a pretty good job of abstract organization. So if you search in the APP stores, we learned how to customize the search results so that we get hi placement on that on Ben. We've built up a sort of grassroots viral framework. So people, can you go to score stream today and you can set up a widget in five minutes and put on your website the way you go and so you could have scores for high school, college pro, all self serve. You don't talk to me. We also have tool sets that allow you to come in and take over a school. So if I want to be the general manager of the University of Utah Utes, um, you can come and well, and you could say, I want to be the general manager. We'd say, Great, go ahead on. Then you can schedule games and score games, and, you know, in places like Ohio State, we have people who score women's field hockey and men's volleyball. And you know this not just football on DSO. That has been very successful. Um, you know some of stuff that didn't work? I think we made some tools that were targeted towards the youth demographic. We have a product called Sport Effects, which is a really cool graphical tool to create a really interesting clips and marketing products for people who are promoting schools and teams. And and it's been the people who use it, love it. But our demographic target was youth, and it just didn't take off with youth. And so it's a total we have and people like, But it hasn't. It wasn't didn't drive any of success. We would have hoped it would have.

What changes would you attempt in customer targeting, acquisition process, and marketing tools in the later growth phase? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
I think, you know, ultimately, we spent a lot of time trying to hit the youth demographic, and we ended up our number one demographic is 45 to 55 year males are number two is 35 to 44 males. Number three is 18 to 25 males. And so what we realized is there are certain behaviors that are users like so, for example, are sort of main use case. You know, we thought we'd build more and more product more and more differentiation and and do different things. Um, to drive in more users and to drive down the demographic age. And the reality is our user experience is very similar to read it. And our users like to talk about sports in on score stream. And so ultimately, we've kind of come to the conclusion that we could make new products, but they don't really help us get new users are users just want to chat and post memes and smack talk eso. So that's sort of where we're at with that. I think, though from growth, you know, the longer term growth I think is international. So we're doing a lot of experimentation we have some initial traction in the UK um, Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada. We've been well in Canada and hockey. And so it tends to be trying to find communities that are looking for that connective ity. Um, it's not the same problem in the United States as it is in other parts of the world. So, for example, there really isn't high school sports in Europe, you know. And so how do you find people who care about you know, 10th table European football teams in the UK because that's probably more like high school sports. You probably care about your local public football team, a zoo. Muchas. Someone cares about their high school football team in Texas. And so for us, I think the growth in targeting and strategy, uh, like driven around international Now, in the meantime, our user base, we were on pace to grow. We finished the year last year with 10.7 million unique on a sum of month basis, and we were on pace to get to 15 to 20 million before co vid eso. Our user base is growing nicely. You know it's not growing 300 x, um, but you know, I think we feel comfortable that that's a good, strong growth path. And now that that growth opportunity for us is really MAWR, building awareness over time, word of mouth and then international is absolutely opportunity for us mhm.

How'd you hire, incentivize, and track the progress of your sales and marketing team including agencies and part-time workers to scale user base?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
So me, myself and one other person, we were the sales team s. So we did all the sales. Um, so we never really hired a sales team. We're not really a SAS business. I mean, some of the some businesses require very large sales teams to scale. Um, ours was really more strategic Business development deals to drive sales and then from a half of our revenue is from data licensing and contents. Indication. And we have those deals pretty much already done with, you know, with there's some big exceptions. We'd like to do deals with Google and Facebook, and we have a deal with Amazon. Um, then the other side is advertising. And so we tried to do direct sales and advertising, but you have to get to tremendous scale to be able to do that. So all of our ad sales stuff is really done through Google right now. Eso there's not It's really not the same kind of framework

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
the high school sports side, there really is. Only Max, perhaps, is a national high school product. It's owned by CBS Sports or CBS, but CBS sports specifically on DSO. They were the main sort of people who run high school covered high school sports throughout the country. Um, there really weren't any other national players. There were other companies that do recruiting. There are companies that do states but not national on dso you know that that we that they were sort of, you know, we didn't think what we were doing was the same thing that you do. We focus on different things. We focus on real time scores. They do a much more comprehensive view but less real time on dso. You know, that was sort of the initial competitors. Er, you could argue that Twitter is a competitors. Er the problem with Twitter, though, is you know, if you're searching for a high school football score on Twitter, you're also going to see, you know, post from Kim Kardashian and from Donald Trump. And so that's not really what a sports fan wants. They wanna have a vertical eyes sports experience, and so we provide that um from a competitive advantage perspective and a sort of a unique positioning. We did a tremendous amount of work with machine learning and AI to be able to validate scores across a large population using multiple inputs. And so that's allowed us to scale to. You know, someone like Max Preps probably has 100 employees. I could be wrong, but I think that's probably about right. We cover probably as many or more games than they do with six people because we leverage the crowd. So crowdsourcing is our competitive advantage. We also have been granted a patent for how we do that pretty broadly around crowdsourcing to sports media on DSO. For our perspective, anybody who had tried to scale coverage of any kind of sports. But there's professional, high school or college on a global basis. You have to do some sort of crowd sourcing. It's just not cost effective to have people watching games and doing stats. And so I think that's been unique for us. And also it's sort of Ah, we built a flywheel that does have self referential value in the network. So, for example, if somebody puts a scored a game and it's wrong and 100 people are in the game. Those 99 other people can flag that user, and we can algorithmic Lee blackball them. And so the bigger the network gets, the stronger the feedback mechanisms are in. The faster the corrective measure, time is on DSO. That's been its own advantages. Well, the users know they're part of the system, and they can help make it better and faster. And they cover more and more sports. For example, you know, we cover Nwsl soccer, which is women's professional soccer today. Somebody's putting in the second tier of women's professional soccer in United States. They're going to score their games. And so as the audience grows, it creates more and more content, more and more vertical ized interest. And we can add those things at very little marginal cost. Um, it's, you know, simple set up in the user takes care of it

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
exciting and memorable moments. I'd say, you know, when we first got our first big media company, took a net was, Ah, big deal. I think that was Yeah, that was our first big validation that a large media company, the largest newspaper group in the country, would use a crowdsourcing platform for scores. Um, that was a big moment. I think the next big moment was when we signed The Associated Press is but an investor in a partner. So now all of a sudden, the Associated Press is using our platform, and so you know whether we're right or wrong, The Associated Press was using us, and that sort of makes you the source of truth. Um, so I think that was a big deal. I think last year we announced to deal with Amazon, where we have high school football scores on Amazon. Alexa s. Oh, that's a big deal. You know, you can go ask your Alexa device for your high school football game scores, and we power that on. Then the last one sort of big ones for me was we won the the Intel capital, um, global pitch for a I and machine learning against 20 other companies. Um, and that was, you know, we were the most non obvious company to win that most of the companies were doing, um, you know, autonomous driving and image recognition. Or some, you know, a very typical A i m l applications. And we were crowdsourcing in high school sports, so that was that was very fun and memorable. Um, you know, we've never almost quit. Um, you know, I think early on we decided that we would do We would check in every six weeks or so interning with the team and say, Should we keep doing this? Should we keep doing this? Does this make sense in? And ultimately, I think we kind of places this is growing. It's gonna keep growing. I think, um, we'd like it to grow faster. But, you know, we haven't found any way to make it grow faster. And like I said, if we would have finished this year with 15 to 20 million, unique would've been ecstatic. But it z you know, it's a journey. It's a start up. Yeah,

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: Director, San Diego Venture Group
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
The Sandy Adventure Group is a nonprofit in the town in San Diego. And so, um, it is a non profit that tries to promote venture capital deployment in San Diego and connected via startups. So that was something I would do that is sort of like nonprofit work. I did my previous company, Waas Chumby, which waas a consumer electronics company. But yeah, Yeah, that one there on dso Chumby was I was the CEO of Chumby. I was brought in to try to turn the company around. They had raised a lot of capital. Um, they chummy device was basically the Amazon Echo show or the Google home hub about seven years too early. And so by the time I got there, they were they had raised about 20 million we entered raised another six million, and we're really far down a path that was tough. And so we pivoted that company. Um, I think if I you know, one of investors said if I had gotten there earlier, I might be able to save the company, but it was by the finish, we it was an asset sale to Technicolor and best Buy. It was, you know, It was a really cool product that was ahead of its time. It was really interesting. I'm hardware is a very hard business. It was I didn't really understand all that. It was really good to learn that, but yeah, it was That was hard.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: BS, CIS, California State University-Los Angeles
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
Yeah. So I was in the entertainment industry. I worked at Disney and Sony Pictures. Um, and I was going to stay in the studio business for a long time, was my plan. And then I decided I didn't want to live on location when you were in the In the film industry, you tend to travel all the time. Like for six months at a time on dso I went back to school, I was working at Sony full time, and I went back to school full time at the same time. Um and so I did I originally when I started out of high school, I went to college. I'm a studying political science and theater. When I went back, I'd had in high school, I had a technical background, so I actually pivoted to compute information systems on drily, You know, the my time and how state was really just to get to get my degree. And then that allowed me to leave. Sony and I went into technology consulting. I work with Video Siegman and Computer Sciences Corporation at Sun Microsystems. I think the the experience of school really was more discreet validation that while my resume had said I worked in the entertainment industry specifically in transportation logistics. It allowed me to pivot out of that into pure tech, where I had a background before and I had a strong understanding. But, you know, credential eyes me for lack of a better word.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? Please discuss the stories behind these lessons, if possible. Stories could be yours or observed.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Sep 11 2020
Well, I'd say the first one is, you know, like what you're doing and like who you work with, if you don't, that's really hard. I think that's a a pretty key thing. Um, I won't stay working and stuff I don't like or enjoy. Yeah, you find that you spend a lot of your time doing things on DSO You really hope that what you're doing is worthwhile and and you like the people you're working with. Um, the second one is that everything takes longer than you could possibly imagine. I mean, it's never It's never the way you think it would be, e think that's you know, you you always set out in a start up with the highest of goals in the most lofty ambitions, and it just takes longer than you think. I think that perseverance, you know, pays off. Um, if you listen to the data on dure objective about it, I think the last thing you know for me I have a family of four that I've raised through my startup career. And you know, I think that having a family was a great way for me to provide some balance, and I Still, I'm very intense on my startups and really like that. But you're having a family, I think gives you some perspective that you you don't have when you don't have a family s o For me, that was That's been great. It's been fun. It's Ah, my kids have grown up around startups. I don't think any of them will go into startups, but we'll see.