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“I guess I am still crazy, and it has taken me two decades, but I didn’t give up on my dream.”

Competitive Sports Analysis (CSA) is a leading provider of highly accurate, predictive data for sports. In 2011, CSA launched its initial product, scoutPROTM Fantasy Football, which uses unique predictive analysis software that combines historical tendencies and subjective ratings to identify the strengths and weaknesses of players in specific situations. Today, scoutPRO Fantasy Football is one of the best tools on the market with a more than 60 percent accuracy rating. After much consumer and industry praise, the company debuted scoutPRO Fantasy Baseball in April 2013.

MO: How did you come up with the concept for Competitive Sports Analysis?

Diane: I was working on my MBA at the University of Miami in the late 80’s. At the time I was working for IBM. I took a class on entrepreneurship that included graduate and undergraduate students. We broke into small groups and I was paired with the star running back from the national championship football team. Our business plan focused on artificial intelligence for sports — predicting the opponent’s strategy. When we presented to the class for feedback, they thought we were crazy. I guess I am still crazy, and it has taken me two decades, but I didn’t give up on my dream.

MO: Can you talk about your experience of working in a predominantly male field and what advantages or challenges it’s provided you with?

Diane: I believe there are both challenges and advantages. The biggest challenge has been to ensure CSA and our products have credibility in our industry, which is male dominated. Let’s be honest – some gender bias exists. If a former football player wanted to me to purchase his cosmetic line, I would want to understand what qualified him in this industry. One of my first tasks was to find a high stakes fantasy football expert (Nelson Sousa) who is the face of scoutPRO. I think it is an advantage to stand out in a crowded space if you are one of the few women AND you can grow and lead a company.

MO: Can you elaborate on how you were able to leverage your successful career as a technology consultant, to help develop and launch scoutPRO™?

Diane: Everything I have done in my career has contributed to my ability to develop and launch scoutPRO. Being a technology consultant requires you to learn different industries, clients and terminology – very quickly. I learned how to quickly assess what is important for me to know and what is noise. I know how to bring people together from different disciplines and form an alliance to improve or execute a project. There have been a number of ways I have been able to leverage my background.

MO: Where were some of the challenges that you faced when initially launching the company and how did you overcome them?

Diane: My initial strategy was to provide game planning software for college football coaches. I didn’t understand or involve my target market sufficiently in the prototype and it was difficult to get the coaches to buy into using predictive data. After better understanding the fantasy sports market, talking to people in the business, and talking to a lot of fantasy sports general managers (GMs), I realized that they would value predictive data. There have been numerous challenges. One was how to rate all of the NFL players down to a skill level in a cost-effective method and update those ratings every week. This was solved by having a great, cross-functional team. Our developer and fantasy sports experts worked together to set up parameters in the software to automate even the subjective ratings. I realized early that I don’t have all of the answers, but the right team does.

MO: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked really well for you so far?

Diane: We participate in an accuracy contest for our player predictions with about 90 other analysts and sites on FantasyPros site. Because we have done so well in the contest, FantasyPros drives a significant amount of traffic to our site. Best of all, it is free to participate in the contest. Entrepreneurs love free!

We also have a Rookie Roster contest each spring in advance of the NFL draft. This lets fantasy football players get a taste for our product and receive a discount code in return. Stay tuned – our 2013 Rookie Roster contest will launch April 14th of this year.

MO: Can you talk about how you’ve managed to secure a channel partnership with CBS Sports despite your product only being in its second NFL season?

Diane: This is due to a combination of factors. First, we met with CBS Sports to better understand what is important in a partnership. CBS Sports indicated that they wanted us to have proven accuracy. I listened and through one of my advisors, who is a professor at Georgia Tech, I hired a PhD student to measure our accuracy each week and help us improve. Second, CBS Sports opened their platform to fantasy sports tool companies that agreed to their terms and met their technical requirements. After launching a football app via the CBS Sports platform, we gained a better understanding of what is important to meet their criteria. This enabled us to launch our first baseball product via CBS Sports in April 2013, just in time for the MLB season. I believe CBS Sports’ stringent criteria and knowledge of our market have helped us improve our apps.


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