J. Parker Ragland Business Press Correspondent
Fantasy football may not be for everyone, but the pastime has scored with enough customers to escalate into a $5 billion dollar industry. An estimated 26 million Americans participate in the “sport.” Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites are abuzz with the latest football statistics and projections, and the social phenomenon shows no sign of abating. Locally, two entrepreneurs, Ryan Cormier and Chris Rodriguez, have developed what they believe may be the future of fantasy football. They call it Dumpster Fire – The term “dumpster fire” is often used to describe something that’s an absolute train wreck; something nobody wants anything to do with. In fantasy football, a dumpster fire is the team you had high hopes for at the outset of the season, but ended going 3-13. You might also hear it used to describe a poor sporting event: “Man, that game last night was an absolute dumpster fire!” Unlike other fantasy football sites, which Cormier and Rodriguez say lack both aesthetic appeal and simplicity, Dumpsterfire.com uses large-letter typeface and a simple color scheme. “We wanted to create something that people would want to experience,” said Rodriguez, founder and president of Dumpster Fire, explaining the website design. Using a development team based in India called Vinfotech, Rodriguez and Cormier worked to create a streamlined product with an intuitive user interface (UI). As veterans of fantasy football, Cormier, who is vice president of interactive marketing for Dumpster Fire, and Rodriguez had experienced it all, and they decided that the state of the game was frustrating. They wanted to develop a fantasy football site focused on the user experience, not the quantity of customers or amount of advertising space. They wanted to add “a level of sophistication,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez knew they had succeeded when the website passed what he called “the girlfriend test.” His girlfriend, having never used a fantasy football site, was easily able to set lineups and make trades on Dumpster Fire. Avid players often participate in many leagues, and logging in to several websites just to set a team’s lineup for the week is annoying. To address this issue, Cormier and Rodriguez made their site easy to navigate among multiple leagues; the UI is similar to a TweetDeck, but made specifically for fantasy football. “In addition to a great user experience, beautiful design, and social functionality akin to Facebook, Dumpster Fire offers some of the best incentives in fantasy football,” explained Cormier in a news release. “Not only do we pay out the top three players in each paid league, we also dole out $100 per week to the user with highest score among paid league users across the site. Even if your record is 1-11, you still have a shot at $100 if your team has a monster week.” Cormier and Rodriguez were concerned with payouts from the beginning. Typically, leagues will select a commissioner each year, rather informally. The commissioner will then be granted certain powers, ultimately determining awards granted at the end of the season. For many leagues, the awards are monetary. Buy-ins are common in fantasy football leagues, but among friends money can be a tense subject. Sometimes people don’t pay. Sometimes, especially with substantial winnings, commissioners will take the money and run before the season is over. And sometimes, the IOUs won’t stop stacking. “On Dumpster Fire, you have to pay to play,” said Rodriguez. “We are the trusted third party.” With security comfortably set, players can focus on the game without worrying about beguiling their friends, or being beguiled by their friends. “We share a philosophy: giving people value without expecting anything in return,” said Rodriguez.
The average fantasy sports player: • Has played for 8.5 years • Spends $467.60 per year playing fantasy sports • Spends about 3 hours per week managing the teams • Is married (73 percent) • Owns his/her own home (78 percent) • Has household income of $92,750 • Is 41.4 years old Source: Fantasy Sports Trade Association