Adam Wexler is an entrepreneur who has made a name for himself in the Atlanta tech scene. His first startup, Gorankem.com, was the first web-based project to be funded on KickStarter. As Co-Founder of Insightpool, Wexler’s leadership helped the business grow into the award-winning company that it is today. Last year, he joined the Atlanta Hawks as a consultant and his digital expertise caused the team’s social presence to explode and receive national recognition (if you met your significant other on ‘Swipe Right Night,’ you have Adam to thank). Wexler’s latest startup, SidePrize, recently launched on RotoWire’s MLB Commissioner platform and aims to disrupt the booming daily fantasy game space. We sat down with the SidePrize Co-Founder and CEO to learn more about him and his new venture.
As a UGA Grad, Wexler is proud of his alma mater and the strides Athens has made since he graduated in 2007. “Georgia Tech gets a ton of attention in Atlanta and rightfully so, but at the same time, there are other great universities in the city and an hour up the road in Athens. I actually lived in Athens for 4 years after graduation and tapped into the resources there,” he says. “Four Athens was getting off the ground when I was leaving, but I really commend what they’re doing there. I compare Atlanta and Athens’ relationship to how Denver and Boulder play off each other. I think Athens could be a great farm system for Atlanta and also on its own.”
Like most serial entrepreneurs, Wexler is consistently ahead of the innovation curve. “I love thinking outside the box,” he explains. “I love watching offline behaviors and reimagining them online. I also love thinking about certain areas where tech is blowing up.” As previously mentioned, his first tech venture was the first web-based project to be funded on Kickstarter. “I was helping manage a band at that time and that’s why Kickstarter came on my radar,” recalls Wexler. “I thought to myself, ‘Why would startups not be able to raise on Kickstarter?’ At the time, it was primarily for artists and musicians. When we decided to crowdsource funds, we had no clue what the expectations would be. We set the goal at $1000 and raised that in a week. We then had to come up with excuses to try and get people to donate more money.”
His knack for being ahead of the game caught the eye of Hawks CEO, Steve Koonin. “Steve and I had lunch last summer and to talk about the Hawks and he wanted me to come on board as a Digital & Social Strategy Consultant,” says Wexler. “On the court, this was a sensational year for the team, but as we were winning all those games, our Twitter was on the news practically every night. We were first to market with the Swipe Right Night and we were looking for all those opportunities where we could add to the fan experience. I’m proud of what we accomplished.”
An avid sports fan, SidePrize evolved from Adam’s experiences in fantasy sports over the years. “Being a fantasy commissioner is the most detestable job in the world,” he asserts. “Going out and collecting league buy-in fees from your friends is a real chore. When brainstorming ideas to combat this problem, I also noticed that people are constantly doing one-on-one challenges on the side, offline. I realized that there’s so much money being exchanged in fantasy and I wondered what it would the experience would be like online, using technology. The daily fantasy sports industry is booming these days and companies are looking for ways to convert traditional fantasy users. SidePrize brings added engagement, and essentially introduces these season-long players to daily games.”
While there are other players in the daily fantasy space, like FanDuel, daily fantasy players seldom have any relationship with their opponents. SidePrize facilitates challenges among friends, adding the daily element, while maintaining a personal connection. Their unique take caught the eye of RotoWire Founder and President, Peter Schoenke. “It’s always refreshing to see new companies and new ideas enter the fantasy space,” says Schoenke. “I believe SidePrize adds an interesting angle to season-long fantasy and I’m excited about the possibilities ahead.”
For all those looking to follow in Adam’s footsteps, he offered these words of advice. “Failing fast is something that people need to live and breath. You cannot be married to your own ideas,” he asserts. “You’ve got to be willing to challenge them and play devil’s advocate as much as possible. Another common problem I’ve noticed is that people hold their ideas too close to their chests. If you can find anybody who will give you the time of day to sound out your ideas, you need to do that. The likelihood that someone would drop what they’re doing to take on your idea is slim.”
Follow Adam on Twitter @thewordpainter