The Startup Journey of SportsFormulator

by Matt Fischer

Today begins year 2 of owning  October 10, 2012 began the journey to what SportsFormulator is today as I purchased the domain  It’s amazing what a year it’s been.  It seems like night and day looking back to what my life was like just a year ago.

When I bought the domain, I was coming home from a job that was frustrating.  It simply wasn’t fulfilling to go do the 8-5 grind Monday through Friday.  I was 10 days removed from Startup Weekend Columbia and while I didn’t pitch at the event, I came out of the weekend driven to start a company that would give me purpose.  Make me look forward to getting out of bed and starting the day.  I had been working with the formula for years prior.  However, I didn’t really have a name for it.  I needed to brand it if I was going to release it to the world.  So I spent hours writing down a lot of words describing what I was doing and just one night SportsFormulator popped in my head and that was the “Eureka” I needed to move forward.  Then on October 10, I purchased the domain.

I was working full-time, had a 1-hour commute each day plus pursuing my MBA at Arizona State.  My life was packed but I knew I had a 1 week break from school at the end of October so I was going to put the website together then and launch it.  I launched on October 30 with the start of the NBA season.  I put up projected season win totals and opening night scores for 3 games.  I have no technical expertise.  I took HTML classes when I was a freshman in college and that’s the extent of web expertise I have.  I built the original site myself by watching YouTube videos on how to customize WordPress themes.

When my week from school was over I was back to having little time to dedicate to SportsFormulator.  I was growing more frustrated with being trapped in a cube and had to find a way to get out of it and scratch the itch I was getting with SportsFormulator.  I decided to take the week of Thanksgiving off last year and do a dry run of what operating SportsFormulator on a daily basis would be.  It was hectic  week as I was trying to balance doing predictions, running the site, promoting it and coming up with a financial plan that I could do this and quit my job.  I got my sign that week that it was possible so when I returned to work that following Monday I walked in and told my boss I was leaving to start my own business.  Two weeks later I was all in with SportsFormulator.

I was such a liberating feeling at first when I knew I controlled my own destiny.  If my startup failed, I shoulder the blame for that.  I wanted that though.  I went from working 40 hour weeks to 60-80 hour weeks depending on the season.  I no longer found myself dreading getting out of bed.  I’m not a morning person but found myself getting up at 6 AM to start working.  I loved what I was doing and I was seeing an audience build.

It hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns.  Getting a startup going is very difficult.  It requires a lot of time, sacrifice and commitment.  I have a lot of good days and a lot of bad.  I believe in myself and that I can do this and that helps me most days get over whatever I encounter.  There have been times I’ve been close to shutting it down but something happens that signals to me to keep going with it.

I get a lot of good feedback from visitors to the site or people who hear what I’m doing.  It’s not all good though.  Majority is positive but I do get the negative responses.  Whether it be for getting a game wrong or having models on the site or they just think SportsFormulator is a stupid idea.

I’ve met a lot of wannapreneurs along the way.  I find it harder to tolerate them with each passing day.  They want to talk and talk about how to do something but haven’t done anything.  I had a conversation a few days ago with a fellow “all in” entrepreneur on how hard it is to relate to people who haven’t started a business because they simply don’t realize how difficult it is to build a business from nothing.  SportsFormulator was just an idea in my head.  I wasn’t buying a franchise. I was going to have to build everything to be successful.

I have financed the business myself and have been looking for investment to expand.  I feel I’ve gone from proving my concept to know trying to expand the business.  I didn’t create this business to make my own job, I created it to build my own career and hopefully careers for many people.   The plan I have now estimates 150 people working at SportsFormulator eventually.  I’ve been pitching the business around the world.  I’d like to stay in Columbia but have found it challenging to build a startup here.

I’ve had successes, it’s hard to believe that I bought the domain just a year ago and have had over 60,000 unique visitors to the site from 157 countries.  I made my first sale a little over a month ago and can’t tell you how exciting that was. Last night, my seven year old nephew called me and was excited to tell me he had made predictions for all of the Chiefs’ games for the rest of the season.  That was exciting to hear and I told him to try to predict all the NFL games this weekend and see if he can beat SportsFormulator so 7 year old vs. Machine could be coming to soon!

I originally put the site up for free to show everyone what I was doing and how good I was at it.  Then when football season began, I transitioned the site to a freemium model.  I’m excited every time I see a sale come through.  Those of you who’ve purchased a membership here I’m extremely thankful for your belief in me and SportsFormulator.

Those are just some of the people who’ve been supporters.  When I started, I didn’t have much of a support system.  A couple of friends I leaned on for advice.  That group has grown over the weeks and months of operation.  I know feel I have a solid group of people who are entrepreneurs themselves or work with them on a daily basis.  I won’t list people here but you know who you are and please I am grateful for your help.

Thank you for reading and supporting my startup journey with SportsFormulator.