The Sports Stock Market Has Arrived. Memo to Jeremy Levine: We Owe You One

5 Apr 2011 in Startups & Technology

Sports fanatics: may I have your attention, please. Have you ever thought ‘if there was a Wall Street for sports, I know I’d be the Gordon Gekko of that stock market‘…? If you’re as passionate as my boy Dave West professes to be, then I may have found your dream-come-true. Meet StarStreet: the stock market for the sports world, where fans become traders. As a trader, you use your own real money to buy and sell virtual shares of professional athletes.

In Boston’s tech startups ecosystem, StarStreet is the cool kid on the block. The founder is a 24-year old superhustler. The startup is brand new, having graduated from the TechStars mentorship incubator in Boston last June. It even caught the eye of the single most legendary investor in Silicon Valley, Ron Conway (IMHO), who invested in the startup last month.

StarStreet has built itself one of the stronger foundations in startupland. Nevertheless, not even Ron Conway and TechStars can guarantee the success of each company they work with. In my mind, the greatest indicator of StarStreet’s future success is the stickiness of their product. So far, the users are returning to the site consistently. Jeremy Levine (StarStreet’s Founder and CEO) told TechCrunch recently that around “25 percent of the traders are active every single day“. This is a very big idea, and I count myself as a very big believer in the team to deliver on their vision.

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WHY I BELIEVE IN THE FOUNDER OF STARSTREET

New York City. It was almost a year ago. The awards ceremony at TechCrunch Disrupt had just concluded. Abruptly, I happened to bump into this ultra-passionate dude who didn’t hesitate to introduce himself.

I was sold on Jeremy Levine’s pitch in the first two minutes. You know that feeling where you just know something’s gonna be big? That was the feeling I had when I got my first look at StarStreet. Since then, Jeremy has proven that he is the definition of someone who can take what he truly loves and build a business based on it.

This guy eats, sleeps, and breathes the market his startup is in. His seemingly instantaneous response time over email continuously blows me away. Even as a young kid, his hustle was evident. He collected sports cards (especially high potential rookies) obsessively. A sports stock market is something Jeremy has been dreaming about ever since he was little.

If Ben Greene created the bandwagon of believers in Jeremy/StarStreet, I’m jumping on board. In a recent vote of confidence for the startup, Ben wrote that theircomplete commitment to user engagement and enjoyment has resulted in continually-increasing momentum towards building a world-class product for sports fans.

HOW STARSTREET WORKS, AND WHERE IT’S HEADED

There is one primary difference between the way StarStreet and say, the New York Stock Exchange, work. The total value of the market remains constant, while the value of individual players goes up and down every day. Each sport has its own market on StarStreet, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, and the just-completed NCAA March Madness tournament. The markets on StarStreet are Zero-Sum Comparison Markets (they explain all the details here).
Wired describes StarStreet as “traditional fantasy sports kicked up a notch“.

The challenge to us as traders is to pick the right players in the market. When new players enter the market through IPOs (“Initial Player Offerings”), we have the option of bidding on them. This determines their initial value, which then fluctuates with each successive trade. The New York Post explains StarStreet’s process excellently: “An IPO is launched with 100 shares. Investors, who are limited to 20 percent of any player and can only invest up to $200, enter a bid price for the player’s shares. The highest bids covering 100 shares are accepted and the IPO is set as a weighted average of the bids.

My prediction for where StarStreet is headed? Soccer. It is the most popular sport in the world, with billions of the most passionate fans on earth. If Jeremy and his team can navigate the intricate world of soccer and create an international stock market for it, StarStreet will bust through the ceiling and succeed on a global level. Guaransheed.

JEREMY’S JOURNEY AND WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

Just 2 years ago, Jeremy graduated from Syracuse University (upstate NY baby!) with a degree in Entrepreneurship. Since, he was accepted into the prestigious TechStars mentorship program. Today, he’s the founder of a high-growth tech startup that could change the way we as fans engage with sports.

He has raised a seed round of financing from some of the most respected investors in the country; including Ron Conway‘s investment firm SV Angel (note: Ron is an early investor in Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more), Jarrod Yuster‘s investment vehicle Jarr Capital, and angel investors Don McLagen, Andrew Blachman, and Ben Littauer.

In a startling, inspiring interview with Xconomy last week, Jeremy gave three pieces of specific advice for young or aspiring entrepreneurs:
1] “Make sure you learn as much as you can as fast as you can.”
2] “Hustle like crazy, try everything, and don’t quit.”
3] “Stop whatever you’re doing and learn to code.”

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Seriously, what an awesome startup. All of us super passionate sports fans really owe Jeremy one for this. Do you have any ideas for StarStreet? What do you think will make or break it? [DISCLAIMER: Jeremy is a diehard New England Patriots fan. For that reason alone, I am rooting for him in every project he pursues.]

  • http://www.starstreetsports.com/ Jeremy Levine

    Dude – thank you so much. This is an AWESOME writeup. I’m pointing everyone here when they’re looking for an article about us.

    THANK YOU!

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com/ JohnExley

    That is a compliment of the highest order. Thank YOU.

    My good friend, I meant every single word of this. Trust me.

    At the very least, I hope this filled up your tank of energy and gave you reason to hustle that much harder this week. Keep hustling my man – we already owe you for what you’ve created here, and you’re just getting started.

    LET’S GOO

  • Guest

    John, nicely written. I have several friends who would enjoy StarStreet.

  • http://twitter.com/w_jossey w_jossey

    I work in the same office as Jeremy, and I see that hustle that’s described in this article every day. Jeremy is top notch and StarStreet is absolutely going places. Can’t wait to watch his meteoric rise over these next months and years.

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com/ JohnExley

    W, I’m not surprised by your comment here – this is exactly how I picture Jeremy doin’ work in the office. What’s your company? I checked out your tweets and saw you were interviewing MIT students to work at your company…..two years ago! Haha. Would love to hear more.

    Thanks for stopping by…Jeremy’s the real deal and StarStreet is just sick. You shoulda seen the look on the faces of some of my friends who love sports (AND – those who love finance as well are That Much More interested in this) when they saw StarStreet. My boy Jake McCrindle thinks it’s really cool, and my bro Dave’s girlfriend Ari even said she was super interested in it.

    I’m also pumped to watch Jeremy’s rise! As I mentioned in regard to Ben Greene, I’m on the bandwagon now. Yeahhhhhhhhhhh buddy!

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com/ JohnExley

    Dude isn’t that Exactly the thought you get when you see StarStreet? It’s like…..’Whoa, everyone I know who’s into sports needs to see this. WAIT WHOA – everyone I know who’s into finance and also passionate about sports, they NEED to see this!’

    That’s how I reacted when I first saw it the first time. Glad you liked the article man, put a lot of hustle into this. Jeremy is The Man. He’s been super helpful to me the past year.

    Meanwhile Julian – glad you got the videos man. Took a night but I’m really glad you have ‘em now. Way to hustle bro, lemme know when the videos are on UNYStartups and stuff. Talk soon!
    - john X

  • http://twitter.com/w_jossey w_jossey

    John, I work Viximo, a social gaming company based out of Cambridge MA. We’re helping to bring Facebook games to the rest of the world.

    I think Jeremy’s idea is a great twist on an old concept, and having secondary markets in place like this are a great way to keep people involved. While success is hard to come by in this world, Jeremy’s got the two most important components down that are under his control: a great idea, and a powerful drive. Now, he’s just got to find a way to sustain that enthusiasm, and he’ll be just fine.

  • http://www.johnexleyonline.com/ JohnExley

    Thanks for the reply, W! How have you managed to build the international relationships I imagine are necessary in bringing Facebook games to the rest of the world? I bet there’s a very interesting lesson to be learned in that story alone.

    As long as the world doesn’t run out of coffee and the many sports that Jeremy has an affinity for do not disappear unexpectedly, I think we can count on Jeremy’s drive not only continuing but Increasing.

    If I were a gambling man, I would bet money on it. I mean that. I love how you are rational about the challenge Jeremy and StarStreet face with trying to build something successful, while simultaneously pointing out that they embody the two most important ingredients necessary to being successful. Great stuff W. Hope to see ya in the comments again sometime….

    KEEP HUSTLING IN BEANTOWN!