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New mobile app Spogo lets football fans earn freebies while watching the game

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 15, 2012 07:27 AM

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A remote control is already an essential companion for watching a day's worth of football on Sunday. But a South Boston startup called Spogo wants you to swap it for your smartphone every few minutes. Spogo's iPhone app serves up a string of real-time questions about the NFL game you're watching, like "What will be the result of this drive?" or "How will the coaches greet each other at the end of the game?" With each correct answer, you earn points that can eventually be cashed in for drinks or food at a local bar or restaurant.

The app presents between six and ten questions each quarter, says co-founder Andrew Vassallo. Players can decide how many points they'd like to wager on each one. "Five hundred points may unlock free nachos, or 1500 may unlock a private party," says Vassallo. (He's on the right in the photo, with co-founder David Shack.) Spogo also enables its users to chat or talk trash, more likely as they wait for the next question to pop up.

spogoscreen.pngVassallo says that the company has signed up more than 50 eateries in Boston and New York to provide rewards to Spogo players, with the expectation that a free order of potato skins may also induce a new customer to purchase a pitcher of beer to go with it. Eventually, if Spogo can prove that it is bringing new customers in the door, the startup may charge bars to advertise through the app, and provide analytics about each campaign's effectiveness.

Co-founders Vassallo and Shack met as roommates at the University of Richmond. Prior to starting the company in May, Shack worked at the Boston ad agency Arnold Worldwide; Vassallo worked for the investment bank Cowen & Company in New York. The company raised a small seed round earlier this year of about $50,000 to support development of the app, but Vassallo says they hope to raise more in the coming months. The app was built by NYC-based Inertia Lab.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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