The KAEO Startups series features entrepreneurs and the businesses they are creating in the sports industry. Click here or the logo to see of all previously featured startups.



KAEO The Details:
Launched: 2015
Founder: Jeff Lin
Concept: A new fan experience delivered to your doorstep.
Website: www.fanchest.com
Twitter: @thefanchest
Email: Email FANCHEST


Fans have more choices than ever when deciding how to spend their money.  Sports remains one of the most profitable industries and fans continue to be loyal to the teams they have cheered and supported for years. Fans are passionate and express their loyalty by purchasing tickets to games, buying merchandise, talking about their favorite teams to their friends and family, and trashing talking on social media.

As the sports fan experience has changed, so too has the means by which fans show their support for their favorite teams. Purchasing team merchandise has transitioned from mail-order team catalogs to online team stores. The #1 online sports merchandise retailer doesn’t have any brick and mortar stores. With increase access comes more availability and choice.

But with more choice, comes more indecisiveness. FANCHEST seeks to enhance the best part about being a fan by providing a box full of exclusive team merchandise.

Jeff Lin is an avid Florida Gators fan and alumnus. He spent 10 years on Wall Street and has been consulting for startups for over the last 5 years. When he realized the niche that FANCHEST could fill, he decided it was time to launch his own startup.

FANCHEST caters to the sports fan. FANCHEST delivers a box of exclusive team sports merchandise to fans that crave to be more closely aligned with their favorite teams. FANCHEST combines the successful subscription box model (like BarkBox, NatureBox) with the option of a one-time purchase/gift. The company seeks to provide the best customer experience possible and didn’t want to lock anyone into long term contracts. They will, however, offer fans discounts on multiple box orders if they want to participate throughout the year/season.

FANCHEST currently only offers the New York Rangers. Since he lives in New York, Jeff is using the partnership to test his product. Hockey fans are among the most passionate sports fans that exist. The close proximity of the buyers allows Jeff to hand deliver some of the boxes to eager Rangers fans. He says the experience of hand-delivery gives him immediate feedback on how the product is doing. Our goal is to improve the fan experience on every level. That includes receiving and opening the FANCHEST. It’s great to see a customer’s reaction to our product firsthand, and it also helps me find ways to make it better.” The company is excited to expand their offering to include the New York Yankees in the coming month.

FANCHEST is part of a bigger concept called #FOMENTS, short for “Fan Moments.”  Whether it’s exclusive merchandise, tickets to a game, or behind the scenes access, FANCHEST hopes to capture and facilitate the very best Fan Moments. For example, a few lucky fans received a nice surprise with their last FANCHEST – autographed memorabilia from Rangers’ legends.


Transitioning from Wall Street, one aspect of working on a startup that has surprised Jeff is the amount and breadth of work that it requires to launch a new product. He comes from a world that is highly structured and regulate. Startups are the complete opposite. “It’s been a wild ride, and a lot of work so far. That being said, I love what’s happening and I’m really excited for the future.”

For more information on FANCHEST, visit them at www.fanchest.com.

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KAEO Startups: Rivalry Races

The KAEO Startups series features entrepreneurs and the businesses they are creating in the sports industry. Click here or the logo to see of all previously featured startups.


KAEO The Details:
Name: Rivalry Races
Launched: First race, December 2013
Founders: Matt Linick
Concept: Races that combine the popularity of college football with running in a team-style format.
Website: RivalryRaces.com
Twitter: @RivalryRaces
Facebook: RivalryRaces on Facebook

Running’s popularity continued to increase throughout 2013. Thanks in part to the sport’s low barrier or entry and an increased focus on healthy living, races can be found in towns and cities across the country every weekend (and sometimes even during the week!). Unlike sports such as basketball and football where equipment and field/court time may be at a premium, a good pair of running shoes is all a runner needs to get started.

Companies looking to harness running’s increased popularity also face a low barrier of entry – a few city permits, some timing mats, a free race t-shirt – and you’re ready to go. Unfortunately for avid runners, this uptick in races hasn’t meant more well-organized or unique events. Runners are now paying $25-$50 for a 5K on the same running route they usually run except this time there are cones to protect runners from the cars and a finishing mat to run through. They are basically paying for the right to be timed. For many runners, local races are becoming as monotonous as strip malls.

Matt Linick and Rivalry Races are taking the monotony out of 5Ks. Rivalry Races combines the passion for college football with road races. The 10K/5K competitions give college football rivalries a new twist and include a scoring system so individuals can compete on behalf of their school affiliation. In addition to the 10K or 5K course, runners will complete several tasks along the course including the QB Toss and LB Flag Grab. Points are accumulated and tallied to determine a winning school for the race.

The first Rivalry Race, dubbed “The Nation’s Race” was held on December 14, 2013 before the Army vs. Navy game in Philadelphia, PA. Eight races are slated for the 2014 college football seasons including stops in Dallas (Red River Rivalry, Texas vs. Oklahoma) and East Lansing (Paul Bunyan Trophy, Michigan vs. Michigan State).

Army defeated Navy in the inaugural Rivalry Race, 366-319.

Running Away is Rivalry Races parent company. They have been organizing races and running-based tourism groups for four years including the Memorial Day Races and the Fall Foliage Half Marathon in The Berkshires, MA and Rhinebeck, NY respectively.

Linick has primarily focused on grassroots marketing to promote the races since each race is in a different city and caters to a specific audience. Finding his niche in the college space, Linick has been careful about how he brands Rivalry Races so as not to infringe on rights of the universities involved in the races. Linick admits that some universities are more receptive to Rivalry Races than others. Most welcome the race and often grant Linick use of school logos, but others are less inclined to share their university assets or likenesses.

For more information on Rivalry Races, visit www.RivalryRaces.com.

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KAEO Startups: Cibos

The KAEO Startups series features entrepreneurs and the businesses they are creating in the sports industry. Click here or the logo to see of all previously featured startups.


KAEO The Details:
Name: Cibos
Launched: December 2013
Founders: Rick Gehman, Kyle Eddins, Jeff DeSantis
Concept: Allows users to see exactly where a game stood at the time of a tweet.
Website: Cibosapp.com
Twitter: @Cibosapp
Download: Andriod or iOS Store using code “goCibos”

There has been a mutually beneficially relationship between sports and Twitter ever since the social media platform first became popular in 2009. For many sports fans, watching a game on television without a second screen seems about as archaic as reading box scores in the sports section of the local newspaper. Connecting with other fans and sharing in the excitement of the game is one of Twitter’s most valuable user experiences. The 140 character limit and real-time updating capability makes it easy for fans to watch the game on television while reading and responding to tweets on their computer, tablet, or smartphone.

With more opportunities to watch sports on television than ever before, the variety of games being discussed on a user’s timeline can vary greatly depending on the importance of the game and the amount of games being played simultaneously. The average Twitter account has 208 followers which means tweets can be coming in from across the country and from a variety of different games. It can be difficult for users to understand which tweets correspond with which games. This can be problematic for college football fans since on some Saturdays there could be more than six or seven games on television at the same time. The tweets for all these games are jumbled together on their timeline. Additionally, west coast primetime games often start too late for fans on the east coast to watch in their entirety. Stephen Curry’s heroics in the 2013 NBA Playoffs look much less impressive to someone reading the previous night’s tweets after they wake up in the morning especially without context of what was happening in the game when the tweet was written.

Cibos has set out to fix this problem by affixing a timestamp to all sports-related tweets. The goal of Cibos is to show fans what was happening during the game when a tweet was sent. The timestamp, which Cibos has dubbed a “GameStamp,” includes vital information about the game including the score and time remaining; clicking the GameStamp provides more detail statistics.

Cibos will be successful if it can attract users and generate revenue. Revenue streams including ad sales as well as subscriptions to use Cibos’ API. The Cibos app runs on top of Twitter – all the regular functionality of Twitter such as direct messages and replies are possible within the Cibos app.

Users must be logged into the Cibos app to see the GameStamp. A proprietary algorithm matches games with keywords such as handles, hashtags, and game times, to accurately determine which tweets will receive a GameStamp. Cibos is currently available for the NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB. Rick Gehman, one of Cibos’ founders and current president, indicated that their next targets are NASCAR, PGA and college sports.

Cibos has already finished a seed round of funding and does not foresee another round soon.

Cibos is staggering its launch to assess server resources. They want to put it in the hands of early-adopters and those who can provide essential feedback, such as readers of The Sports Business Exchange. TSBX readers can gain access to Cibos by downloading the app from the Google Play store or iOS Store and using access code “gocibos”.

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KAEO Startups: Sqor

The KAEO Startups series features entrepreneurs and the businesses they are creating in the sports industry. Click here or the logo for a list of all previously featured startups.



KAEO The Details:
Name: Sqor
Founded: Relaunched 2013
Founder: Brian Wilhite
Concept: A social platform with athletes as the publishers.
Website: Sqor.com
Twitter: @Sqor

Sqor is a new social platform that allows athletes to be the publishers.

Created by CEO Brian Wilhite, Sqor combines the latest from social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, sports news sites such as Sporting News and ESPN, and video, photo and original athlete produced content, all in a highly visual, deeply engaging, personalized experience.

Sqor began as Amplify Social, then became Virtual Fan Network, and eventually relaunched as Sqor in April. Tim Lincecum, who has been working with Wilhite since Amplify Social, joins other professional athletes using the platform including NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Turner and Ndamukong Suh, MLB’s Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, NBA guard Stephen Curry and the WNBA’s Brittney Griner. Former NFL superstar Brett Favre was just added to the Sqor Board of Directors and will also contribute content to the Sqor platform.

Wilhite sees Sqor as an opportunity for all athletes, not just the most popular ones, to create their own brand and connect with their fans. He understood that athletes needed a voice to talk to the fans directly. “Most of the world of sports is recorded from the vantage point to the team or league rather than from the athlete. Once an athlete gets traded or retired, they often lose touch with their fan base.”

Sqor is free to users and uses a revenue share to attract athletes and contributors.

On Sqor’s platform, athletes have publisher capabilities and can create their own broadcast channels. Among the many capabilities available to them, athletes can run and execute their own interviews and host live broadcasts. Athletes aren’t relegated to filtered team messages, clipped quotes or monotonous postgame press conferences.

The Sporting News has been one of Sqor’s biggest supporters both financially and in content delivery.

Among Sqor’s hurdles to success will be its ability to convince athletes to use their platform. Wilhite explained Sqor’s business model makes Sqor a win for athletes and their agents. Analytics are also provided which makes the platform valuable in understanding the athlete’s reach and target market. Based on the analytic data, agents can target further revenue generating opportunity for their clients.

Brian grew up in Oregon and went on to play baseball at LSU. He credits his time at LSU with helping to launch Sqor. The relationships he built at LSU extend off the baseball diamond. In fact, a group of LSU alumni are key angel investors in Sqor.

Brian is still a competitor today. To date, he has completed four Ironman Triathlons.

Sqor's Main Page
Sqor’s Main Page
Sqor's MMA Athlete Page
Sqor’s MMA Athlete Page
Silva's Sqor Page
Silva’s Sqor Page

For more information on Sqor, visit www.Sqor.com.

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KAEO Startups: Pass It Forward LLC

The KAEO Startups series features entrepreneurs and the businesses they are creating in the sports industry. Click the logo for a list of all previously featured startups.

Pass It Forward LLC

KAEO The Details:
Name: Pass It Forward LLC
Founded: April 2013
Founder: Brian Rilko, Christina Sussman
Concept: Pay it forward: Buy a soccer ball, and one is donated to a child or an organization in need.
Website: PassItForwardSoccer.com
Twitter: @PIFSoccer
Email: Email Pass It Forward

Paying it forward. It’s a concept we are often taught from a young age about helping others before yourself and doing good even if there’s no immediate personal reward. It’s with this mantra in mind that a new soccer ball company called Pass It Forward emerged from a somewhat random airplane conversation.

Pass It Forward LLC is a very easy-to-understand company. For every soccer ball purchased, a second soccer ball will be donated to a community or organization in need. These communities including foreign and domestic locations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Pomona (CA), Haiti, Namibia and Rwanda. A note is included in every purchase indicating exactly where the soccer ball is being donated. Once a location has received enough donations, a representative from Pass It Forward will make a “Ball Drop” to the organization. Ball Drops are anywhere from as many as 100+ soccer balls to as few as 2-3 soccer balls. In the first month of operation, Pass It Forward has already donated over 300 soccer balls to communities worldwide.

The idea for Pass It Forward came about from a conversation between strangers on an airplane. Brian Rilko is an avid soccer athlete with experience both as a player and a coach. Christina Sussman teaches Drama and Special Education at a school in Germany. During their flight, they realized they shared a passion for helping others and realized that they could positively impact communities through soccer.

Brian explained that “soccer is a universal language” and that it can be used to teach many life lessons both on and off the pitch. Many of the communities either have old, dilapidated, soccer balls or no soccer balls at all. Included in the slideshow below is a picture from Zambia of trash bags banded together to form a deformed soccer ball.

The competitive price-point for the soccer balls makes it easy for consumers to get involved. The balls are all hand stitched and laminated with four layers of polyester viscose. Pass It Forward’s soccer balls are produced in an environmentally friendly factor without harmful chemicals or lead and are match-play quality.

A month into the new company and Brian and Christina have already learned a lot. Brian spoke of a sense of personal pride that goes into this project. He noted that awareness and a small marketing budget are two of the company’s biggest hurdles. Brian also said that he’s come to realized that some people will never understand Pass It Forward’s business model since revenue is not being maximized because of the donations.

“There’s a real sense of accomplishment that isn’t understood simply by looking at the business plan,” Brian said.

For more information on Pass It Forward, visit PassItForwardSoccer.com or follow them on Facebook. The company was also recently featured by Sports Doing Good.

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