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Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Vito Brunetti ’19 - SportSpeck Trading
Vito Brunetti ’19 is a current senior at the College, pursuing a major in Finance and a minor in Computer Science. About a year and a half ago, Vito decided to create an app where the financial marketplace meets the sport industry, thus resulting in the creation of SportSpeck Trading. SportSpeck Trading offers users a different way to bet on sports, giving users the necessary data they need to make data driven decisions.
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How did you come up with the idea of creating a sports betting app?
I came up with the idea about 2 years ago and I kind of just played with the idea of it in my head, but I didn’t know anyone who could program or anything about programming. One day I was playing volleyball with my buddy and he says “Hey, I know this guy who might be able to help you.” I met with this guy and he developed a prototype for us, which ended up costing us way more than it should have and it turns out it was developed all wrong. We essentially had to start over.
Are you working alone on the project or do you have other people who are helping move this venture along?
The team I am working with has grown to include 3 programmers, 1 graphic designer, and a risk analyst. We also have a programmer on our team who has been in the industry for about 30 years. I am actually the youngest guy on the team, some of my teammates are like 27 and 43.
Is being the youngest member in your entrepreneurial team intimidating for you?
It’s definitely hard telling someone older than you what to do, but afterwards I realized that this is my thing and I need to make sure we know where it’s going.
Did you think of yourself as an entrepreneur before engaging with the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program at Lake Forest College and before starting your app?
Yeah, I definitely did. Always.
How has this whole process of developing an app and starting your own venture impacted your self-image?
It has definitely made me a lot more confident. Before, I was scared to get in front of crowds and talk. I never would have raised my hand in class, things like that. It’s made me feel a lot more comfortable just talking to people.
Have you gained more confidence in selling yourself and selling your ideas?
Definitely. Selling ideas has taught me that it’s important to develop your idea beforehand and know everything that goes into that. Once I knew that, I could sell the idea. This process has taught me how to understand what my business was about and how to analyze different things.
Entrepreneurs need to know how to reframe failure as usable data. What has been the failure that has helped you the most?
Every single meeting that we have ever had, that we thought was going to go well or went well, actually turned out to humble us even more. It has made me so motivated to prove every single person wrong because a lot of people have said that they don’t really understand anything around the app we created. We believe that if we build this the right way then the right people will come and support it.
What has been the hardest part in getting people to help you?
We are a sports betting site, and that is technically a legal issue. The problem is that we are a small company going into an industry that is in legal chaos. Another issue we face is getting funding. We initially thought that if we had the greatest product in the industry that we would just get funding like crazy, but that was not the case. You actually have to prove your worth before anyone starts giving you money.
What resources do you still need to complete your project?
When it comes to completing the project, what it essentially comes down to is manpower. We need more programmers to help in developing the infrastructure. We also need a good marketing team. I think that marketing is one thing that we neglected when we developed the app because we developed it with an engineer mindset, which is to make things as simple as possible. We need to focus on developing a good marketing plan.
Are there people that are already using this app?
Yeah, we already have a top 25 list of traders. For now, people aren’t trading money because that requires a different legal process. We basically give people free $50,000 fake dollars to spend and whoever has the highest balance for the week wins a prize.
If you could ask anyone for anything and get it, who would you ask and for what?
I think a partnership with a big betting company would be the best thing for us because they have access to a large amount of customers. Our product will not directly compete with the company, so we think it will be embraced by the “competitors” because we never will directly compete with them.
Where do you see yourself, and your app in the next 5 years?
I see this being very successful, possibly getting that partnership with a betting company or multiple companies. I eventually see this app transitioning into different teaching models. Our site is really cool in that it teaches students, teachers, and users about the financial market using sports betting.