PW Interview: Scott Gimpel Founder and CEO FantasyData.com

Ajay Ohri, October 23rd, 2013

Here is an interview with Scott Gimpel Founder and CEO of FantasyData.com. The site used to be known as NFLdata.com and provides NFL statistics. The site claims to have almost 25 million API calls /month during football season with over 300 developers working with it’s API.

PW- What is your API all about. How do you intend to reach out to make it exciting for developers to make apps using it?

Scott-Our API empowers developers to integrate NFL scores, odds, stats and other content into their websites and mobile apps.  We are also an affordable option for startups who want to build fantasy games.  We have different tiers of packages depending on whether you need live in-game data, post-game data or scores for a pick’em game.

We’ve partnered up with Apiphany and Mashape to enable API delivery and commercialization. We haven’t run any hackathons, but that is on our to do list.

PW- Analysis in sports is big now (thanks to Moneyball et all). What are some of the tools you use or encourage to use for NFL analysis?

Scott- Well, a lot of our clients perform their own statistical analysis using our data.  Honestly, the sky is the limit when you’re analyzing our data using your own homegrown tools.  Personally, when I’m trying to decide who to start, I use tools on our website, mostly the Player Projections and Snap Counts.

Snap counts tell you which players are most productive on a snap-to-snap basis.  For instance, did you know that, as of Week 6, Nick Foles scores the most fantasy points per snap than any other player in the NFL, including Peyton Manning?  Amazing.  In years past, this data was very difficult to acquire, but it’s now published by several sources, and can be collected manually, thanks to the NFL Game Rewind.

PW- How does your API compare with the ESPN API zone?

Scott- I actually don’t know much about the ESPN API.  They developed theirs after we built ours, so they weren’t a part of our market research. With the ESPN API, it looks like the best content (the stats) is protected and only available to Premium Partners.  We have a ton of content available in our free trial, more than ESPN, IMO.

PW-You claim to have best pricing in Industry. What is the reason for this strategy?

Scott-We want to compete in a growing industry, and sometimes, it’s best to be the most affordable, especially since we mostly deal with startups.  And to be honest, STATS LLC sets the bar so high with pricing, that it’s easy to come in a lot lower.

We target startups and small businesses with our tiered pricing plans.  There is also no commitment to get started with our API – you can start your project, put it in hold, start it back up again with no penalties or fees.

PW- What are some usage stats you can share about your product?

Scott- We have over 300 developers who have signed up for at least the free trial of our API.  In addition, we have over 25 million API calls/month during the season.  In the offseason, this number drops dramatically.

PW- Describe the journey of your startup from inception to execution. How has Mashape and other partners helped with that?

Scott- We started the business in 2007, and the 2008 NFL season was the first one that we opened for business.  Our website was pretty lame, but we had good data, so we were able to gain clients and make enough money to keep things going.  Then, we completely redesigned our website, making it look much more professional and easy on the eyes.

With that, we started showing our data on our website so clients and users could browse the stats for free.  That really helped gain user interest and it helped us audit our data since it was all aggregated up into one easy-to-read report.

All of this was done with post-game data, until the 2013 NFL season, when we finally launched a real-time data feed.  This was probably the most challenging thing to implement since inception.  Besides, inputting the data in a timely fashion, we’ve had to scale our back-end to handle a high number of requests in rapid succession.  This is where Apiphany really helped us because they have caching and scaling built into their API delivery platform, which we took advantage of.  Partnering with Mashape has allowed us to essentially gain free exposure by offering users a new way to discover and consume our APIs.

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