Startup Stories: Leonard LaPadula, Advanced Sports Logic
The Rochester-based startup, which designs and distributes fantasy football statistical analysis software, recently raised $150,000
Advanced Sports Logic Inc., a Rochester-based startup that designs and distributes fantasy football analysis software, has raised over $150,000 through separate debt and equity offerings. The company’s founder and CEO, Leonard LaPadula, told NHBR that he plans to use the funding to expedite the development of new products.
LaPadula, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute grad, founded the company in 2009, following a career in the electrical engineering field – including working on the first GPS chip while at Texas Instruments.
His company currently offers three products to fantasy football players. Advanced Sports Logic’s main product, The Machine, uses a win-based projection and analysis engine to recommend draft selections, trade decisions and lineup choices. Trade Judge, an objective tool used to eliminate unfair trades in leagues, and Projection Station, a program that generates new sets of projections, are the company’s two other products.
Q. What made you get into statistical analysis of fantasy football?
A. I have enjoyed football as long as I can remember. So in 2003, when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join a fantasy football league, I didn’t hesitate. From the very beginning, I set out to win using math and automation. Every year I would have bigger and bigger Excel sheets and deeper and deeper analysis, and every year my team was terrible.
Then in the summer of 2009 I had a new idea. The basic idea has two parts: we should make decisions based directly on how they impact what we care about the most, our probability to win; and to calculate the probability to win, we need to simulate the entire fantasy football season with probability distributions.
I spent that summer programming in Visual Basic every day and every spare minute I had after my regular job, and when our draft was ready to start in August, I had to ask the commissioner for another six hours to finish the program. That was The Machine’s first draft. It picked a wide receiver in the first round and a tight end in the second round and everyone in my league was very unimpressed.
Well, that team went on to win the first six games in a row, had the highest fantasy point total, and went to the playoffs. Every decision I made that year was directly from my program in Visual Basic. Our attempt to make a production version in 2010 was not successful. I finally left my full-time job, and spent 2011 programming the math myself for the production version and have not stopped since.
I am so committed to this that I have sold my home and did not even take a salary for the first two years. I take a very small salary now and live inexpensively so I can pay my team and get this off the ground.
Q. What do you plan on using the money raised in the equity offer for?
A. With greater funding, we can go faster. We currently have what we need, but with more funding, would speed up our projects related to projections.
I have a core team of five people and several part-time people to improve and expand our products. We are building our technology in concentric rings around our core technology so that we are building on the value we already have.
Q. What sort of investor is interested in your company?
A. Our best investors are friends and workers that are passionate about fantasy sports and Advanced Sports Logic.
Q. What has your team been working on this year?
A. This year we put a lot of focus on our dynasty product. The Machine: Dynasty optimizes teams for a three-year span, not just for the current year.
The Machine sells 12 months a year. Believe it or not, quite a number of people play in dynasty leagues. We had a 30 percent renewal rate of 2012 customers with our 2013 Dynasty product between the months of November and April. Having the product for sale 12 months a year in a space with no competition is great.
Our league partners are also waking up to the value of this, because when one of our customers purchases a product in November for dynasty league, it locks them into that league for another year, before the league provider can even start to market the leagues for next year.
The feedback from our customers has been amazing.
Q. What are future products you’re working on?
A. We are building our own automated projection system. Working with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, we have spent two years defining the system that we will use to measure projection quality. Our projections will be the most accurate in the industry, and we will know their accuracy before the start of each season. We have prototyped a proprietary system and demonstrated great quality at the box score level.
However, we are not planning on selling these projections directly. We want to facilitate the fantasy sports industry, not compete with it. So we have another product called Projection Station – I was in India working with one of my developers to start to productize Projection Station.
We are also building mobile and tablet versions of The Machine.
Q. Will you consider developing similar tools for other fantasy sports?
A. We are planning to add baseball and basketball next year, and international sports following that.