Thuuz Sports CEO and Former Venture Capitalist Warren Packard Describes His Launch
Many would-be entrepreneurs aim to bring the next great idea to the market, but those dreams rarely come to fruition without the know-how to navigate the entrepreneurial system.
As a former venture capitalist, Warren Packard, now founder and CEO of Thuuz Sports, knows this firsthand. He and his startup team formulated a very intentional strategy to test their idea, acquire funding, and get their mobile app into the hands of sports enthusiasts everywhere.
Disappointed by how poorly his two favorite football teams were playing against each other on a Thursday night in November 2009, Warren considered the other games he could watch. It was late fall and there were college basketball, college football, and hockey games being played. With all of those different options, Warren thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody could just tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘you should be watching this game.’” That thought is what sparked the creation of Thuuz Sports.
Thuuz was founded in 2010, and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Thuuz (derived from the word “enthusiast”) is a sports discovery service that alerts users to sporting events via a proprietary “excitement rating.”
“What we’re doing is taking something that is subjective and making it objective through numerical modeling,” said Warren. The trick is to predict when a game will be worth watching for the next five minutes, rather than telling people what was worth watching for the last five. This is easier to do for baseball games, where there are many statistics indicating where the contest may be heading, than it is in a soccer match, in which one or two sudden scores define the game.
How did you stress test your concept and gain the confidence to move forward? There are many, many moments of doubt in terms of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, that’s natural. We took it on faith that sports fans would love it, but we knew we had to build a prototype as quickly as possible. We built a website where users could sign up, get alerts and notifications, and enjoy the Thuuz experience. We began in 2010, setting our sights on March Madness. This was our litmus test and the reaction was tremendous. That gave us the confidence to start working on Thuuz in earnest.
Thuuz is an award-winning mobile and connected TV service revolutionizing how sports fans discover and connect to sports programming. Thuuz consumer applications and partner products are designed to increase audience size for televised and streamed sporting events. Thuuz partners with leading TV providers, wireless carriers, consumer electronics companies, advertisers, and sports networks.
As a former VC you have access to many funding resources, but most people don’t. How can less connected folks break down the barriers? If you have confidence in what you’re doing talk it up, communicate the passion, make the goal small and start raising little piles of five to twenty-thousand dollars from ten to twenty people in your network. Be bold, ask for support. If you don’t pay yourself in the beginning and you are as capital efficient as possible, it doesn’t take a lot of money to prove your business.
Warren Packard is a venture partner at DFJ. He currently serves on the board of Microfabrica. Warren also leads the firm’s investments in BinOptics, Hola!, Primet Precision Materials, and YeePay. He is also the founder and CEO of Thuuz, a consumer platform for real-time sports discovery, tune-in, and sharing. Prior to joining the firm, Warren co-founded Angara Database Systems, a main memory relational database company, which was acquired by Personify. Prior to co-founding Angara, he was an associate at Institutional Venture Partners, investing in early-stage technology companies. Before IVP, Warren was a senior principal engineer in the advanced product development group at Baxter International. Warren is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University and holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering: smart product design. He received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar.
SOURCES: Inc.com, DFJ.com, Thuuz.com, NYTimes.com