Kickstarter has played host to a myriad of services and gadgets. From watches to game consoles, the crowd-funding solution has proven to be an excellent way to take an idea and package it into a shipping product. Hunter Hillenmeyer, former Chicago Bear and co-founder of OverDog, is hoping to do just that.
Hillenmeyer’s latest goal is still in the realm of sports, even if he isn’t playing for a specific team. Instead, Hillenmeyer hopes to connect everyday gamers with their favorite professional athletes. Through a mobile app and a network that is in partnership with everything from the MLB to the NFL to the MLS, Hillenmeyer and his team are poised to make this a reality.
My first question for Hillenmeyer was to explain the general concept of his OverDog project. He explained, “At its simplest, all OverDog is doing is connecting athletes — who are really already gamers, from FIFA to Halo to Call of Duty — with other gamers in a more seamless way. Right now, the process of an athlete challenging one of their fans to a video game is difficult. You have to send a Tweet saying, “Hey, anyone want to play some FIFA?” and then wait for someone you’d be interested in playing to respond, and then friend them on the console, and then play. That process just doesn’t work as well as we’d like.”
He’s correct, and that isn’t even taking in to account the security issues involved in publicly challenging people to a game on Twitter. Hillenmeyer mentions that some athletes understandably don’t want their gamer identification to be public knowledge, as the console and account can be used by anyone in the athlete’s family.
OverDog will be an iPhone-first service, though there are already plans for an Android version. When asked why this is, Hillenmeyer stated that iOS is the platform that most athletes use and therefore where they needed to target first. He is, however, adamant that this service isn’t iOS only: “I want to stress that this is going to go to Android very soon, but we just made the call that we had to bring an app to the platform that most athletes use, and that just happened to be iOS.” As for Hillenmeyer himself, he’s an Apple guy. “I’ve got lots of Apple products… multiple iPhones, iPads, two MacBooks, a desktop Mac, and that isn’t even counting iPods and so forth,” he jokingly added, “so yeah, Apple gets a pretty significant portion of my paycheck.”
Our conversation shifts gears, and moves towards Kickstarter. Used to successfully launch literally thousands of a products and services over the past half-decade, Kickstarter is nothing short of a revolution in the way that products — both physical and software — come to market. Hunter Hillenmeyer and his team have the view from the perspective of a team creating a product, which is something most people aren’t able to see. “Kickstarter is great, but it’s great in two ways specifically. First is the funding, but most projects will go through even if they don’t meet their goals. Ours will — we already have the app under heavy development.”
OverDog is, at the time of this writing, at $36,398 of its $100,000 goal.
“But the advantage that I really see is that it’s a way to kind of get a fanbase before the product is even launched. You get all of these people on your side that can help to make it a real success. Like the Veronica Mars movie — Warner Bros. is backing it. They don’t need the money, but this is a way for them to gauge interest, kind of pre-sale movie tickets in a way.”
It’s an interesting idea, but one that makes complete sense. Regardless, it’s obvious that Hillenmeyer and his team have a unique concept on their hands with OverDog. It’s all about connecting with people, and even professional athletes want to do this. “They’ll be compensated for their time, but it’s not like the money will be life-changing for these guys. They do this because it’s fun, easy, and I mean, they are already gaming… this allows them to have fun and make connections with fans at the same time, and really that’s good for both parties.”
OverDog is currently being funded on Kickstarter, and at the time of this writing has 14 days to go. You can also view a roster of athletes that are already signed up for the service on the Kickstarter page.
I’d like to thank Hunter Hillenmeyer for his time, and Jaclyn Messina for setting the interview up!