When you are trying to build a winning team, in sports or in business, sometimes the most valuable player to have is a lawyer.
At least that’s the case for Starting 11, a new daily fantasy soccer app built by three Twin Cities attorneys. The app, which debuted last week, aims to do away with the decades-old “set it and forget it mentality” in fantasy sports.
Users can choose new players before the start of each game, and are allowed up to three real-time, in-game substitutions that they can exercise whenever they like, just like a real soccer manager. Starting 11’s CEO Teague Orgeman and chief marketing officer Amanda Heyman are married, and have been lifelong fans of soccer and fantasy sports.
“I’ve been a pretty hardcore player of mostly football, but a few other things, for the last 20 years,” Orgeman said.
“He would sit there all day Sunday, the entire time, with a yellow legal pad and take notes,” Heyman added.
In addition to being a fantasy sports fan, Orgeman is also a self-admitted fantasy business nerd. Heyman got into the entrepreneur game in 2013 when she co-founded Jambor Heyman, a firm that helps food startups and small businesses. The two said that they knew they wanted to leverage their skills and build something together.
“It seemed strange to me that there was no soccer-specific platform given the worldwide popularity and growth in the U.S.,” Orgeman said. “And eventually, that evolved into, ‘Why don’t we just make one?'”
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Especially in the realm of paid, daily fantasy sports. Over the past several years, dozens of states have been deciding exactly how they want to regulate the burgeoning industry. In some states it’s taxed heavily, and others it’s barred completely. For Minnesota, it’s currently allowed but unregulated.
It’s a tricky legal situation, so a few backgrounds in law came in handy. Heyman estimates that having lawyers on the team saved the startup more than $70,000 in legal expenses. They added geolocation to make sure the app is in compliance with local regulations, wherever it’s being used.
“But we figured that since we had to do geolocation for compliance, we should try to have fun with it,” Heyman said.
Orgeman and Heyman said that their favorite feature is the app’s one against one feature, which allows users to square off against any other users less than a pitch-length distance apart.
Orgeman and Heyman said they’re excited by the potential that comes with the sport’s worldwide fanbase. For now though, they’re starting things off with leagues the U.S. and United Kingdom. The app’s first day of playable fantasy (with the UK Premier League) is August 12.
“We want to take a game, which has for decades been passive, and turn it into an active engagement model,” Orgeman said. “That way, fans have more control.”