Those for whom travel is a regular part of the schedule understand the frustration of trying to find a great place to watch the big game on the road.
Perhaps you ask the concierge (or in my case the night janitor at the Motel 6) or try your luck at a place you saw on your Uber into town. Many, if they can even find the game, watch it in their room or the hotel lounge.
Symon Perriman knows the feeling. A graduate of Duke, Mr. Perriman’s work travels have taken him across the country where his experience catching his Blue Devils’ and Panthers’ games was mixed at best. He and his friends did the work and got groups of a few dozen or even hundreds of people together to go to a bar but their experience was inconsistent.
“Even though we would bring the bar or restaurant dozens or sometimes hundreds of new patrons and make them thousands of dollars on otherwise slow nights, they weren’t prepared for us,” Mr. Perriman explained. “They would be understaffed and unprepared. It might take an hour to get a drink or some food. The patrons had a lesser experience and the site lost revenue.”
So he did something about it. Mr. Perriman and a team of technologists started FanWide, a social network for sports fans that organizes viewing parties to watch games at bars where their teams are guaranteed to be on the tube.
Available at the App Store and on Google Play, FanWide connects fans of the same team. Each week they are directed to a local site featuring their team’s viewing party. People enjoy the game in a group, make new friends and see parts of new cities that might otherwise go unexplored.
And it’s free for fans, Mr. Perriman said. Venues join auctions where they bid to host the game.
FanWide currently hosts events from the big four professional sports and NCAA Division I football and basketball. They plan on expanding into international sports, Mr. Perriman added. Never do they work with games in the city of the home team, as those fans likely know where to go.
Progress is coming fast. Since leaving an executive-level job to work full-time on FanWide earlier this year, Mr. Perriman’s team has grown, several investors, a national media channel and name brewery have committed and multiple high-profile athlete endorsements are pending. FanWide also won and finished second in pitch competitions and high-exposure crowdfunding events include Crowd Invest Summit West and the Global Crowdfunding Convention.
“Investors like our strong leadership team of graduates from top universities who are passionate about sports and have strong backgrounds in industry, finance, computers and gaming,” Mr. Perriman said.
The whole process has been an education, Mr. Perriman admitted. A Duke Computer Science graduate with eight years of experience at Microsoft, he first tapped into his national contact network to build his team. He also personally benefited from the FanWide experience
“I also met some people at viewing parties in Seattle.”
Mr. Perriman envisions a future where high profile athletes promote FanWise events through social media channels and share in the revenue their posts generate.
“It’s a cool opportunity for us,” Mr. Perriman said. “I don’t think we could be where we are without it.”
That also makes it easy to determine return on investment and to cross promote with merchandise retailers and other partners/revenue sources, he added.
As with anything social, regular contact with the fan base is crucial, Mr. Perriman said. Keep in touch through event promotion, retweets, and articles promoting FanWide and other interesting sports information.
The continued development of social media metrics has helped FanWide grow, Mr. Perriman explained. Social enterprises such as FanWide can easily recognize and find potential clientele, given the frequency with which sports fans share their thoughts on their teams. Facebook groups abound.
“Facebook has been great with their new ad campaigns,” Mr. Perriman said. “They allow us to create an add targeting a specific area. Say we select downtown Seattle plus a 40-mile radius. We check the teams we are interested and not interested in.”