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Interview: CEO Ty Ahmad-Taylor

FanFeedrIf you haven’t heard of FanFeedr yet, you will. It’s a great tool for sports fans, casual or hardcore. It’s all about providing real-time personalized sports news to fans in the most desirable way, enabling you to get the news updates you need about your favorite players and teams right when they’re available. All you have to do is log in with your facebook account – it’s that simple.

Of course, when I visited for the first time, I searched for ‘lacrosse’ right away. What did I get? Not much. So, I did what any other lacrosse fan would do, I hunted down Ty Ahmad-Taylor (CEO & Founder) and asked him about it. Turns out Ty is one of the guys who helped build to what it is today, and his team is stacked with top talent. I spent some time learning about his vision for FanFeedr and what he thinks it’s going to take for lacrosse to hit mainstream. Below is our conversation.

LAS: What is FanFeedr – what’s the general concept and what are you trying to accomplish?

TY: We are a real-time personalized sports aggregator. In a nutshell, that means that we want to connect casual and the more, dedicated, shall we say, sports fans with the teams and players that they care about the most AND we want them to be able to talk to their friends about their passions.

Where did the idea for FanFeedr come from?

I am passionate about music and sports, in no particular order, and it occurred to me that surfing five, six and seven sites a day to try and get information about the players and teams that I am passionate about didn’t make much sense. I think the same problem exists for music. Additionally, I have grown less and less interested in wading through presentational layers (e.g. the top story of the day) to get to the stuff that is personally relevant or that my friends are doing.


Do you know of any lacrosse fans using FanFeedr right now?

I am aware of two very dedicated hardcore lacrosse fans using the site right now.

In your mind, what’s it going to take for the sport of lacrosse to go mainstream? (ex. Does it start with growing youth participation or getting big brands like Nike to back it? What’s the next step?)

I think that Lacrosse and Soccer have broadbased appeal, but Lacrosse tends to have pockets of strength (New York, Maryland), and that it is, unfortunately, behind Soccer in the queue as a result. That having been said, a two-sport player who is well-known in a bigger sport would go some ways to making it more popular, as well as a bigger national television contract.

There’s been so much chatter about pro sports and Twitter lately; Do you have any underlying thoughts on this? Should NFL players be allowed to tweet?

I have no issue with athletes or coaches tweeting, at any time, and not just because I value it through FanFeedr. Tweeting is the spoken word delivered through electronic distribution. The only reason NFL players are muted in the lead-up to a commercial break, or on the field, is because they might let loose with a curse word. If you see an athlete saying “Hi Mom” by lip reading, or saying “I am amazing” when he scores a touchdown, it seems irrelevant to try and constrain them from typing the same thing. One could argue that it would distract them from the game, but I see athletes whiling away their time on the bench and during timeouts with the opposite of focus.

Screenshot: FanFeedr iPhone App
What is the value in real-time news for sports?

Sports is a soap opera. There are usually an antagonist and protagonist, depending on your point of view, and there is a measurable outcome that normal people besides me would call a “winner.” With that in mind, providing a real-time view of the sentiments around that struggle, pro or con, is extremely valuable, because sports, like news, is highly perishable, and we want to know what is going on now. A friend of mine has the DirecTV package for the NFL, with a channel called “RedZone.” It is, as you would expect NOTHING BUT TEAMS ON SUNDAY IN THE END ZONE. I was baffled two years ago, but it became the equivalent of heli-skiing: highly entertaining, and addictive (we will leave cost out of the equation for now.)

Lacrosse fans are dying for a real-time news source, where they can get NCAA, MCLA and Pro game scores and news with a quick click of a button. Do you think FanFeedr could be the solution for this down the road? If so, when?

We are getting some of the news for Lacrosse, but we would need to hear from Lacrosse fans about their favorite sites before we could roll out the site. We could do this by the middle of September.

[Editor’s note: This is where Lax Nation comes in… Drop Ty a note in the comments section and let him know your favorite sites  – other than, that is.]

I think a large percentage of current lacrosse fans understand the impact that technology could have on the sport and are willing to embrace it. Do you have any ideas for how to bring them together and get them more involved online?

This is easy: they should support the Lacrosse fan pages on Facebook, and we certainly could power a Twitter feed of the Lacrosse athletes. As is the case with all sports, people want to be entertained. The key question is not which technologies, but how can Lacrosse get the word out about its entertainment value? That has to come from players, coaches and then the fans. Who is an entertaining Lacrosse player on Twitter, and I mean entertaining in the Shaq/Lance Armstrong mode (not necessarily funny, but compelling.)

For more info and updates be sure to follow FanFeedr on Twitter. They also have a pretty slick iPhone app and according to Ty, they’ll be rolling out with new innovations each and every week. If Lacrosse All Stars has anything to say about it, this will include some lacrosse-specific enhancements coming your way soon.