Fantasy sports has been growing in popularity over the past few years, but a new addition to the market is about to make the online pastime more exciting than ever. Boasting partnerships with the WNBA and West Coast hockey teams, real-time fantasy sports app Sqwad is adding a completely unprecedented layer of immediacy and fan engagement for spectator sports.
Sqwad CTO and co-founder Manuel Pineyro, ’12CC, was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City, where he honed his skills as a developer in his free time. After graduating from Columbia with a degree in psychology, Pineyro joined Nike as an application engineer in Portland, and he attributes the bulk of his development skills to the time he spent there. Portland was also where Pineyro met his co-founders Nick Lawson and Lee Jorgensen, both of whom had prior experience developing fantasy sports applications.
Together, the trio got their start by building an in-stadium fan engagement platform for the Portland Winterhawks, a very popular junior league ice hockey team in the area. Fans were able to select a player through the platform in real-time as that player made points or assists, and any fan with that player selected would receive points based on the player’s performance. Those points could later be redeemed for rewards like merchandise or access to events, effectively gamifying the fans’ experience of spectator sports.
But what really took the platform to the next level was Sqwad’s move to basketball, propelled by a contract with the Seattle Storm. Where their prior platform was limited to in-stadium engagement, the new platform was accessible from any viewing location, meaning that fans could interact with games they watched on TV.
While there are plenty of fantasy sports platforms, Sqwad is the only one that’s based on fan engagement — that is to say, it doesn’t revolve around gambling or player statistics, but merely seeks to reward fans for paying close attention to the game. This emphasis has drawn them a largely young audience, who use the app to directly involve themselves in a world of sports fandom that might not have otherwise interested them. The app is also B2B-focused, meaning that they partner directly with sports teams to increase viewership and sell both tickets and sponsorships. Most recently, Sqwad worked directly with the WNBA to integrate Sqwad into the league’s official mobile app.
In the near future, Sqwad is working to monetize its service and establish a robust user tracking system so that advertisers can target specific rewards to specific users. Pineyro also hopes that Sqwad will become the best-known social gaming company in the realm of professional sports, transforming passive spectators into active participants.
Sqwad is currently raising a pre-seed funding round — if you want to get involved today, please visit http://sqwadapp.co/.