A long time ago, when I was growing up in a small town in Michigan, part of the background every Thanksgiving day at my aunt’s house on Oxbow Lake was the Detroit Lions football game on TV.
The Lions still carry on that tradition, as do a few other NFL teams, and thanks to a brand new little startup started by three guys out of their apartment in San Francisco, this Thanksgiving football fans have a new way to enjoy these classic games with others.
Since launching in September with about 50 users, Pickmoto has grown rapidly to over 8,000 users by early November, covering both professional football and – as of recently – basketball games each week.
More sports will be added, including March Madness next spring and the major league baseball season.
There’s no point spread involved in these bets. It’s just which team wins the game. Depending how the crowd predicts the outcome, you’ll win or lose points accordingly.
Before the recent 49ers-Rams game, the Niners were overwhelmingly the favorite, picked by 93 percent of the users to win. Had they done so, those who predicted the outcome successfully would have been awarded only about one point.
A Rams’ upset, however, would have awarded those few lucky fans who predicted that outcome around 98 points.
(As it turned out in real life, the teams played to a rare tie, so no one won anything.)
Pickmoto’s trio of founders, who met when they were students at UCLA, are Ryan Gerard, Ben Peters, and James Wildman.
“We want to innovate with mobile apps in sports,” says Peters. “There are many wonderful web-based sports and fantasy games, but none on mobile.”
“We’re trying to make it fun for serious and casual fans alike,” adds Gerard. “Our user survey indicates that 50 percent of our early users do not even play fantasy sports.”
One surprise already is that the game appeals to both men and women. By last week, four of the top ten leaders nationally, including the top point-getter, were women.
Besides playing against each other when betting on games, users can bet against the crowd, or against a “robot” called Motobot.
Motobot is not an actual robot, but a player programmed by the founders. He has a distinctive personality and likes to engage in trash talking with other fans.
Since online gambling is currently prohibited for the most part by authorities, real money does not exchange hands on the app, but winners earn virtual gold coins, which can also be earned by inviting friends to play.
Pickmoto also allows you to buy gold coins for $0.99 each.
“We've definitely determined that this a product people want,” says Peters. "We convert four out of five people who sign up into users, and four out of five who play one week play the next week also.“
Pickmoto has issued a special Thanksgiving edition that you can access here.