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Startup Spotlight: Sportsmanias

BIZMON_spotlight sportsmanias 2 CWG
Aymara Del Aguila and son Vicente J. Fernandez co-founded Sportsmanias. Photo by CW Griffin/Miami Herald.

Sportsmanias.com, a Miami-based startup that offers a comprehensive sports news aggregator, announced this week that it has secured $1 million in funding from Mas Equity Partners.

Until now, the co-founders -- a mother-son team of advertising executive Aymara Del Aguila and University of Chicago student Vicente J. Fernandez – had been bootstrapping since launching the company last year. They plan to use the funding for customer acquisition and to move into the next stage: monetization.

"We have a lot of new ideas that will continue to improve our user experience. Our mission is to be the place where diehards get their ideal sports fix all in one shot,” said Del Aguila. That’s done by offering  top beat writers, athlete tweets, videos, photos and personalized feeds.

Mas Equity Partners’ Jorge Mas, who is also chairman of the $4 billion MasTec, said he looks forward to helping the team with strategy and scaling. The investment comes as Sportsmanias rolls out a major update to its Team News mobile app, which includes a “Rumor Filter” that mines rumor sites and social media and a “Video Filter” that aggregates footage from YouTube and Twitter, among other improvements, the company said.

Fernandez, an award-winning sports journalist at U of C, brings the passion for sports to the team. Timothy Landon, CEO of Aggrego and an alumnus,  has been mentoring Fernandez since meeting him at a U of C entrepreneurship event. “I thought Vicente was very sharp and hard working,  and that Sportsmanias was very early stage but a very good content model. I have been helping him think about building the business.  Viicente is quite an impressive young guy on a lot of levels.”

Read more about Sportsmanias below in today’s Startup Spotlight.

Startup Spotlight: SPORTSMANIAS

Concept: To offer the easiest, fastest, most complete source of team news on web and mobile, personalized to the fan.

Vo29v_St_56Story: The co-founders are a mother/son team — an ad exec workaholic (Aymara Del Aguila) and a student-athlete sports writer (Vicente J. Fernandez). They created Sportsmanias.com to deliver content that every passionate sports fan craves — the inside scoop from reliable sources, including the most prolific beat writers in the country, as well as all the rumors and relevant social media, at unparalleled speed. “Sportsmanias has been created to feed diehards what they want, how they want it,” said Fernandez.

Launched: October 2012. The Sportsmanias mobile app for iOS was released in January 2013, and Android was released in March 2013.

Management team: Aymara Del Aguila, CEO, co-founder and advertising executive with more than 25 years of corporate experience; Vicente J. Fernandez, co-founder and VP of content strategy and an award-winning third-year University of Chicago student, where he is founder and president of Maroon TV (UChicago’s TV network) and sports editor for the Chicago Maroon; David Marshall, VP of digital marketing; Ramon Branger and Paul Briz of BrangerBriz, web and app development; and David McCombie , financial advisor.

Number of employees beyond management team: 2

Financing: The big news just announced: Mas Equity Partners has invested $1 million in Sportsmanias, its first tech-startup investment. “We invest in good people and Aymara and her son are good people, very motivated and they have the right idea,” said Jorge Mas, who is also chairman of the board of MasTec, a $4 billion infrastructure engineering and construction company based in Coral Gables. Sportsmanias’ second fundraising round will likely be developed in 2014, Del Aguila said.

18dNND_St_56Recent milestones reached: In addition to the $1 million financing round, the site’s traffic surpassed projections with more than 500,000 unique monthly visitors in July and is projected to reach 1.4 million by end of this year. “Our app has actually been ranked as high as top 10 in the U.S. iTunes Store for free sports apps, and fans are loving it, averaging 12 minutes per visit. We are consistently ranked in the top 50 free sports apps in the iTunes Store,” Del Aguila said.

Biggest startup challenge: Realizing all of the ways that Sportsmanias could optimize its site and app and improve the user experience and cater to fans, but not being able to take those steps due to financial restrictions. “Now that we’ve secured funds, we have detailed plans to optimize our product offering and accelerate user  acquisition,” Del Aguila said.

Next step: The team released a major app update a few days ago, and the company will be revamping the site this summer/fall, based on feedback received. Sportsmanias will also be approaching ad agencies to begin to monetize the site and app offering custom sponsorships. “Our fan base is the most coveted target audience for advertisers, the male 18-34 age, which is reflective of the ultimate sports fan with a high disposable income, “ said Marshall. “We have all kinds of surprises in the pipeline fans will love, We listen closely to our users and take a lot of pride in every improvement we roll out.”

Investor’s view: Jorge Mas said he liked the growth profile of Sportsmanias and he believes Mas Equity Partners can help the team with strategic planning and organizational management, as well as access to capital markets and other resources needed to take the company to a much larger level. “They are well set up to grow and I think we can help them,” he said.

Nancy Dahlberg

To have your company considered for inclusion, email businessmonday@ MiamiHerald.com

Posted Aug. 19, 2013