UT-Austin alumnus develops social media platform for sports events

Kevin Dural

A team including UT-Austin alumnus Harry Hoffman has developed a sports social media platform to connect fans at the stadium. Fandom, Inc., the business created by Hoffman, is behind the development of the Fandom app. It finished as an alternate finalist in the most recent Texas Business Plan Competition.

Hoffman said the app has one goal: to enhance the live sports experience. Upon arrival at the sporting venue, the user can open the app to connect to a network of fans that have the same app at the stadium. Fandom includes chat rooms for various topics such as celebrity sightings or concession and apparel reviews. Hoffman said that enabling fans to connect to each other is an invaluable feature that will improve the game-watching experience.

“Allowing users at a college game to create chat rooms for their graduating class or to exchange tickets throughout the game are just some of the possibilities when giving users a platform to develop themselves,” said the Fandom, Inc. business plan.

Fandom seeks to consolidate and improve on not only various location-based apps that serve fans once they arrive at the stadium, but also implement features of social media that people use daily, Hoffman said.

“Fandom will be the first social media of its kind,” Hoffman said. “We combine the features of some of the big names — Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram — you can post pictures, comment, text and talk to different people.”

Hoffman said that each stadium having their own application is an inconvenience for the user. As a result, the group sought to develop a fan-focused experience that combined all these apps into one.

“When I think about the general sports fan, I think about big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Dallas,” Hoffman said. “Most of the time, these cities have more than one sports team.”

Hoffman said balancing a full time job and Fandom’s development in his free time and over weekends was remarkably challenging. As a result, he added that it was definitely rewarding to hear back from the judges that Fandom was a viable business plan.

Fandom will not be available for Android at launch; the application, at least on its initial release date, will be exclusively for the iPhone. Hoffman said the team observed that iPhones are more prevalent among the younger demographic that goes to sporting events. He also added that development on the Android version of Fandom will begin after the launch of the iPhone application.

“When we went to sports games to brainstorm about the application, we looked around and people were mostly using iPhones,” he said. “However, we’re definitely going to be developing for Android next.”

Hoffman said Apple’s notoriously rigorous approval process for accepting applications into the App Store has temporarily pushed back Fandom’s launch.

“The selective process is one of the major roadblocks we have hit, but we are quickly making it through that,” Hoffman added.

The app passed its final stages of testing for iOS 11. Fandom submitted for approval to the App Store on Wednesday.