SportsLock prepares to change the way people bet on fantasy sports

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Published on Jan. 09, 2015



If startups had resumes, SportsLock’s would be the equivalent of an Ivy League MBA’s. The company’s raised over $3 million in funding, has 10 employees with intentions to double the pool by the end of 2015, and even has a trademarked slogan: Where Brackets Breed Champions™. And it hasn’t even launched.

Well, that last part is only partially true. The startup originally released Lock, a simple fantasy sports app that allows users to bet on players and teams with their friends, in late 2013. Later this month, however, it’s resurfacing as SportsLock, an app in which users compete with their friends to draft players in bracket-based tournaments for money.

A quick visit to SportsLock’s website reveals its raison d’être: to “change the way people bet on fantasy sports” – even if they aren’t yet seeking that change.

“Sports fans looking to bet on fantasy sports have very few options right now, and the few options they do have are extremely limited,” Heyden said. “Even though it is 2015 and the fantasy sports space is the ninth-fastest growing industry in the world, it still feels like we are living in the 1920s when Henry Ford famously wrote, ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.'"

To combat that perceived stagnation, SportsLock incorporates features such as bracket tournament play and live drafting, while maintaining what Heyden called a “friends focus” and an “immersive gaming experience.”




Because the app remains in a pre-launch state, Heyden remains reticent on technology and features. However, he speaks with structure and authority about the path the company follows to reach its goals, seasoning his rhetoric with tagline-like snippets and categorizing his ambitions with abstract nouns (the company’s philosophy, for example, is “Launch, Refinement, Growth” and its intended accomplishments are “Awareness, Adoption, Retention, and Advocacy”).

“Our industry is very new and unfortunately for consumers, every new company is trying to be 10% better and offer a variation of the exact same product,” Heyden said. “That is not how Facebook became the premier social-networking site and that is not how SportsLock will become the premier Fantasy Sports Application. We don’t do things 10 percent better, we do them 10 times better.”

Underlying Heyden’s driven professionalism, though, is a sentimental appreciation for the city of Chicago, a burgeoning tech hub and home to a rich tapestry of American sports history and culture.

“Being a part of [the Chicago tech] movement is something we don’t take for granted,” he said. “We hope to make Chicagoans proud.”

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