About two weeks ago, I got an email from a public relations representative asking me to write about a new fantasy baseball app called scoutPRO. I had never heard of it. But it seemed interesting: the company already had a fantasy football app, and so it was trying to move from football into baseball analytics. And its founder sounded interesting, too: a 50-year old UGA grad and serial entrepreneur named Diane Bloodworth who had made her prior career in information technology and consulting for the federal government.
So I spoke with her about moving between sports as a businessperson, and moving between worlds as a woman in the male-dominated industry of fantasy sports.
Bloodworth grew up in rural Georgia and went to the University of Georgia
, and married the son of a poultry farmer. [UPDATE: the latter apparently applies to a different Diane Bloodworth.] She was at UGA in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and she was a huge Dawg fan, as she wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after Larry Munson died: “When I hear his voice even now, it takes me back to warm, fall afternoons and hanging “Go Dawgs” sheets out of Brumby Hall as we got ready to cheer the team.” She is still a passionate Georgia fan, as she said in an interview last fall at GuysGirl.com:
I attend most of the Georgia Bulldog games — there is nothing like being there in person. Since I spend all day on Saturday at the tailgate and game, I usually watch the Falcons at home on Sunday — but I make it to some Falcons games as well.
She began her career at IBM, then started a Beltway firm called Bloodworth Integrated Technology, competing for federal contracts. After that, she founded a firm called Competitive Sports Analysis to maintain her interest in sports, and a firm called PerceptivePRO to keep up her sideline in consulting, and she lists scoutPRO for football on both websites. (She does not list scoutPRO for baseball on either of these sites; it’s only available at CBS, which seems less like a strategic decision and more like an oversight borne of neglect.)
So she’s an information technology executive and a Beltway consultant. Not the typical career path in fantasy sports. But after her childhood in Georgia, it felt like what she always wanted to do. “I’ve been in the tech business my entire career, and I’m an entrepreneur at heart,” she said. “I want to combine my love of sport and my background in tech and business.”
How is she doing? It’s not quite clear. For one thing, unfortunately, she is not the only Scoutpro out there: at the moment, her scoutpro.com has a lower Google ranking than scoutpro.org, which is an app that allows farmers to identify weeds, insects, and diseases for crop scouting.
For another, the baseball app hasn’t been rated a single time on CBS Sports, which makes it difficult to tell whether anyone is using it, and there is very little information about the app anywhere on scoutPRO’s website.
There are a few user testimonials on the site, but otherwise, not much has been written about it online, which may not be too surprising considering that it has only been around since 2011. On fantasypros.com, scoutPRO’s site projections finished 57 out of 87 experts, which isn’t great. On the other hand, there are a lot of ways to slice and dice the data, so a scoutPRO PR release boasts that “scoutPRO beat more than 90 experts to secure the number one spot at wide receiver predictions for Weeks Two, Five, Eight and 15.”
Bloodworth is optimistic. For one thing, she says, having developed the football product means that branching into other sports costs much less. “The analytics are not portable – the positions are very different, skills at those positions are very different. But we were able to leverage our technology,” she explains. “The cost of doing a baseball product was ten percent of the cost of the football product.”
Her original intent was to market her football product to coaches, to help them formulate in-game strategy. When she found that a tough sell, she turned to fantasy sports instead. Still, she says that her product tries to “think like a coach” by focusing on subjective measures, like poise in the pocket for a quarterback, along with more easily quantifiable objective measures.
She is conscious that there are relatively few women in her field. “It is male-dominated. I don’t focus on that,” she says. “But I have to be aware of it. And where I have to be aware of it is credibility. I have to be sure that people don’t discount us because we’re a woman-owned business.” She has addressed this by trying to hire experts with credibility in their fields, such as Paul Kerl, a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech; Nelson Sousa, a veteran of high-stakes ($100,000) fantasy football; and Shawn Childs, who is in the National Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame. (As a sidenote: if there is already a fantasy baseball hall of fame, how long will it take before there is fantasy fantasy baseball?)
Change is coming, but it has been slow. “The first time I went to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, I was one of three women there, and one was the event planner,” she says. “My hope is, more women will get involved… I’ve only been involved about three years. I see more women in fantasy. But I don’t see other women who’ve started a company.”
For now, Bloodworth is keeping her eyes open. “I’ve interviewed interns, and for every 10 interns that apply, only one is female. So I think we’re still going to be behind for a while,” she says. “I think they’re out there. I hope I can inspire them.”
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