Fueling Your Sports Fantasies with Data: Interview with Numberfire Founder and CEO Nik Bonaddio : Under30CEO Fueling Your Sports Fantasies with Data: Interview with Numberfire Founder and CEO Nik Bonaddio : Under30CEO
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Fueling Your Sports Fantasies with Data: Interview with Numberfire Founder and CEO Nik Bonaddio

| September 6, 2013 | 3 Comments

Nik-Bonaddio

As a sports fan coming from a strong background in math and statistics, Nik Bonaddio came up with the idea for Numberfire – a business that uses quantitative analysis to provide advanced predictions on sports matchups and fantasy sports.  Fantasy sports data may seem like an extreme niche, but more than 27 million Americans play fantasy sports each year.   The number of free online platforms for fantasy sports has significantly increased the need and popularity for predictions, guides, and statistics that help make tough decisions related to a user’s specific fantasy game.

Numberfire Logo

Nik had the talent and experience to create Numberfire on his own, but because of his full-time career, he was not able to dedicate enough time to build the business properly. Like many young successful entrepreneurs, he was able to secure a large amount of capital to allow him to build his dream business.  Unlike many young entrepreneurs, he received his startup capital from the television game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

After walking away with $100,000, Nik bought a TV, a comfortable couch, and quit his job to work on launching his business idea.  Nik spent the next 6-8 months building everything – the design, coding, and crafting the mathematical modeling on his own.  He used the money to pay rent and student loans.  “I came into some money in a very strange way, so I figured I may as well parlay that luck into starting a company.”

Since launching in 2010, Numberfire has acquired over 60,000 users, established partnerships with the NFL, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated, and has raised over $750,000 in seed funding.  The site gained recognition after consistently beating predictions by ESPN, Yahoo!, and others.

While most fantasy sports players and websites are looking at data that often includes biases and personal preferences, Numberfire takes a large amount of data and creates a separate series of statistics that are then used to make accurate predictions.  The data collected and analyzed by Numebrfire may turn out to be more valuable to other areas of sports in the future.  “What we do is applicable across almost all facets of sports management.” In the future, the data may be used to give extensive insight into the true value of each player and their impact on a specific team.  This information could come in handy to a player and agent negotiating a contract, the front office of a team when scouting or drafting, and of course the guy sitting on his couch on contemplating if he wants to bet on Detroit to cover the spread.

Even with the mass amount of data collected and the accuracy of their predictions, there’s a reason they still play the games – anything can happen. “It’s not as if we’re taking the fun out of the game. There’s still a large amount of randomness to it.”

Nik is running his dream business and fueling many of our fantasy teams all thanks to Regis Philbin.  Of course Regis Philbin doesn’t really deserve any credit here, but Nik himself admitted that Numberfire may not have existed if not for his appearance on the popular game show.  My fantasy football team, along with others, is very thankful that you did end up on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Nik!

Note: Nik has not tried out for any game shows lately, but he would love to appear on Jeopardy if the opportunity arises. 

Listen to the full interview with Nik Bonaddio below!

Advice for Young Entrepreneurs

  1. Do something you’re crazy passionate about: Think about all of the time “in the shower, while walking – I can’t shut up about it.  The second you stop obsessing about it, it’s time to get out.”
  2. Don’t underestimate the time and effort it takes to make it to the top.  “I think a lot of people go into startups thinking they are going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, and underrate the amount of time and effort and work it takes to get there.”
  3. Be in it for the long haul and be prepared to struggle to survive.  “The longer you survive, the better chance you give yourself for good events to happen.”

Quick Fire Questions

Are you a fan of the TV show The League? I am a fan of The League.  The League represents pretty close to the main league I play in.

What is your favorite activity to do for fun?  I like to watch and play sports.  My life revolves around sports.

What is one thing that you haven’t accomplished yet in your career that you would like to? I would like to sell a company.  Any good entrepreneur wants to have one big success under their belt.  Not trying to sell the company, but I would love for Numberfire to be as big as it could possibly be.

What is your favorite alcoholic drink? I’m a pretty simple guy – a beer guy.  I’m most happy when I am watching a game of football at the sports bar with a big plate of buffalo wings and a nice cold Yuengling.

Who is your favorite musician? It really depends on the situation in which I’m listening to it.  At work I listen to a lot of trance and electronic music.  I’m a big classic rock guy – Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, etc.

If you could have one entrepreneur join your team at Numberfire, who would it be and why?  Mark Cuban for a variety of reasons.  He’s a Pittsburgh guy, sports guy, and a monster – his track record speaks for itself.  “Mark Cuban if you’re listening, please email me at Nik@Numberfire.com.”

Listen to the full interview here:

Image Credit: wearenytech.com

About the Author: Michael Luchies

Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur and passionate supporter of everything entrepreneurship. Michael is Co-Founder of PitchJam and is National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO). He has been covering entrepreneurship over the past 5 years and has been published on Under30CEO, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, ThinkEntrepreneurship, PitchingGreatness, and other websites and publications. On Twitter @MichaelLuchies.

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Category: Entrepreneur Interviews, Entrepreneurship

  • Mike Darche

    Another great interview Michael! What an incredible story–Nik Bonaddio is the full package. I admire how he used the tools he possessed and acquired additional skills along the way to make Numberfire a success. This is exactly what I’m hoping to do, from the technical stuff to the business.

    If he hadn’t won Who Wants to be a Millionaire, it sounds like his career path might have turned out drastically different. He said he could still be an engineer working on side projects. What are your thoughts on the role of serendipitous opportunities as they relate to business? This one was definitely an elephant in the room- he had prize money lying around from the show and an idea for a business. Is there a balance between jumping when we get the chance and analyzing opportunities before making the leap?

  • Michael Luchies

    Thanks Mike!

    That is a great topic! Serendipitous opportunities are everything. I can’t even count how many successful young entrepreneurs have started up because of an instance of chance.

    There are soooo many different thoughts on this subject as well. Mike Evans from Grubhub recommends quitting your job as the first step. He says that there is nothing like the actual feeling of physical hunger to drive you to succeed in a startup. Scary…but powerful.

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