Sport AI sees the pandemic as a catalyst for growing fantasy sports.
The startup is moving to Birmingham to fuel the technology and ‘democratization’ of the space.
Noah Kim, CEO and co-founder, played football at The College of William & Mary and worked in the mobile product management space prior to jumping in as an entrepreneur. He told Hypepotamus that he knew he wanted to combine his love of technology and sports in some way because “in the past, there was a large rejection of data and technology [within sports].”
While he hung up his cleats after college, Kim soon started diving into fantasy leagues. “I realized there’s a huge problem,” he said. “There’s a lot of platforms to play, but not a lot of ways to get data analysis and empower the user…I’d play and I’d have to go off guessing and my own knowledge of the sports.”
Fantasy leagues have helped bring friends, families, and communities together over a shared interest in sports, and have helped even passive viewers get more connected to professional sports.
The ‘shady’ part of the fantasy sports industry, Kim says, comes when players look to bookies or ‘experts’ to help build a winning team.
For Kim, Sport AI will “democratize the fantasy sports analytics process to help the expert and the serious player, but also help the beginner or the more casual user understand sports analytics.”
Their technology is targeting a growing market in the United States. A recent YouGov poll suggests that upwards of 15-20% of Americans participate in some sort of fantasy league.
Kim says that is estimated to grow to 45% over the next decade.
Fantasy sports also benefited from a ‘COVID bump.’
He adds that fantasy sports players spend an average of 15 minutes a day on related apps and can easily spend multiple hours a week on research. “COVID increased the market interest in fantasy sports because when you can’t go see a game in person, you could still play fantasy basketball.”
The app currently has a waitlist to join and has reached 2,000 users in three months.
The team was spread out between the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, Wisconsin, and Florida prior to the pandemic.
But after going through Birmingham’s Velocity Accelerator early in 2021, the team has decided to relocate to The Magic City.
“First and foremost, the Birmingham tech community has been extremely great in trying to bring us down to the city through Velocity and Innovation Depot. We were able to connect and have a space to develop our product as well as make the right connections both internally and externally,” Kim said. “[Birmingham] wants to grow and we want to grow. We see eye to eye on that vision.”
It’s also Birmingham’s growing sports market that also helped the team decide to move down south. The city has added an NBA G League team, a professional soccer team, and benefits from passionate fans from Auburn, the University of Alabama, and other colleges in the state.
“The entire Southeast has that kind of passion for sports and fantasy sports in particular,” added Kim.
Kim has already relocated to Birmingham and is running the business out of Innovation Depot. His two co-founders will be moving to the city in the near future.