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Fantasy football start-up trying to give ESPN, Yahoo a run for its money

Blair Shiff

Entrepreneur Nan Wang is passionate about sports but felt something was missing when it came to current fantasy sports platforms.

So he launched the small, San Francisco start-up Sleeper for iOS and Android in 2017, which is described as a platform that makes "fantasy football a more fun and social experience through its messaging platform -- think Slack for fantasy football."

"Sleeper focuses on the social aspect of sports by delivering a beautifully designed, free and ad-free messenger experience into its fantasy games and sports communities," Wang told FOX Business.

Sleeper claims to have a userbase "in the seven figures." In comparison, Yahoo! Sports, a unit of Verizon's Oath, has about 7 million users playing fantasy football on their platform. Wang says their growth in such a short amount of time is possibly due to its ability to engage ability. For Disney owned ESPN, on "NFL Sundays, ESPN Fantasy accounts for more than half (53%) of all minutes consumed across ESPN Digital platforms" according to the company.

"They use one of many messaging apps (iMessenger, Slack, WhatsApp) to talk about games, use another app to check scores, consume content and watch highlights, and then use another app to play fantasy sports games," Wang said. "Sleeper has created a messenger experience in sports that combines all three into one app. The core activities that fans do with their friends are built directly into Sleeper’s messenger platform, and fans can invite friends to hang out, chat, and compete with one another in a more social way."

How did Wang and his co-founders come up with the idea of adding the social aspect of fantasy sports?

"We grew up together, but eventually all moved to different parts of the world as we got older," Wang said. "Sports was a way for us to stay in touch and keep that friendship strong over time."

But Wang noticed they would have to talk about their fantasy leagues over group chats and that there was a need for a product in the fantasy sports space that would allow these conversations to happen easily.

Beyond the addition of a social aspect, Sleeper brags about their customizations.

"A few of the many features that users love include year-round access with full dynasty support, multi-team blockbuster trades, real-time waivers, the ability to trade free agent budgets, fully-editable draft boards with live draft-pick trading and much much more," Wang detailed.

Wang said Sleeper also has more fun customizations such as avatars and skins a user can purchase to make their team look even slicker.

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As of now, Sleeper is only available for fantasy football, but Wang told FOX business they are laying the groundwork to expand to other sports such as the English Premier League and the NBA.

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