Mike Brown’s ephemeral time in the NFL finished him beholden for
one thing: that his mom finished him keep his grades up in sequence to
Thanks to that, now Brown has another dream job, as CEO of a
year-old startup called Win-Win.
But back in 2009, when the two-time all-American linebacker from
Duke University got picked up as a free agent for the
Indianapolis Colts, he suspicion his dreams of an NFL career had
come true. It didn’t. The
Colts cut him from the roster at the finish of training camp.
“I didn’t play football for as prolonged as we wanted to. we didn’t make
it to retirement/pension. we was there for a Hollywood second,
bounced around. Never means to get to big contract,” he told
In 2013, after 4 years, he was finished as a pro player. He
designed to go get his MBA. That’s when he, utterly literally, got
the pursuit to go to Silicon Valley and do a tech startup
“I was getting prepared to go to Rice University and a crony of
cave in the Bay Area told me about this program that he heard
about called Draper University. we didn’t know anything about
Silicon Valley. All we knew that Facebook was here,” he said.
On a lark, he practical to the program but didn’t consider he’d really
Soon after, billionaire VC Tim Draper privately called Brown.
Draper is famous for his eccentric, boisterous, confident
personality. He’s tough to contend no to.
“If anyone else would have called, we substantially would not have
changed my plans to go back to school. But he said, “Hey, Mike,
this is Tim. We desired your application. You’re in. Full
scholarship. We’ll see you in March. And we was like, “Uh. we guess
I’ll change my plans.”
Draper University, as the program is called, isn’t a university
but a two-month foot stay for wanna-be tech entrepreneurs. It had
launched the year before as Draper’s brainchild to learn people
caring skills in radical ways.
While other accelerator programs concentration on building a product,
Draper U does things like military presence training (Draper
calls it “hero training”) where students spend days in the
forest foraging for food and shelter. They contest in offbeat
contests too, like “to sell something embarrassing, or go to San
Francisco and come back with a pursuit offer, on paper, in 24 hours,”
Draper formerly told Business Insider.
At one point, Draper even incited his university into a reality TV
show, Startup U, that aired on ABC Family, yet it only ran for
Brown desired it.
“I came out of Draper very confident,” he says. “Ideas are coming
out Draper’s conduct like crazy. As dumb as the program seems to
be, it changed my life.”
He vowed to himself, “I’m going to pierce to Silicon Valley and I’m
going to start my own startup.’”
But he didn’t have a pursuit in the costly Bay Area, so he went
back to Houston, dynamic to return.
“Life was also happening. we got married. We had a child,” he
said. “During that time, we taught myself how to code, how to
design. Knowing how to code or at the very slightest know how to talk
to developers is important. So all day, all night, laying in bed,
Brown’s wife finished up her master’s grade in preparation (while
she was pregnant) and got hired at California State University as
“My wife believed in me. We changed to the Bay Area the next year.
My pursuit was to get a job,” he said.
Once in the Bay Area, he contacted everybody he could consider of. He
sent a cold email to a man at a startup called Kiip who graduated
years after him, but remembered the star football player.
Kiip is a mobile promotion company famous in its early days for
its immature founder, Brian Wong, who landed $200,000 of seed
appropriation at age 19. He
was one of the youngest people to ever land funding back
then, in 2010.
Brown was offering an entry-level, cold-calls sales job. He worked
his way up to a full sales pursuit within 4 months and started
making “good money,” he says. He also had another child on the way.
“We changed to a bigger place. we became the tech man for my
friends. They started pitching me ideas. It was funny. we was in a
really good place.”
While at Kiip, his co-workers talked him into joining their
Fantasy Football sports league, his first time playing. They
assured him it wasn’t about winning the income at the finish of the
deteriorate but about teasing any other all deteriorate long.
That was the same deteriorate that FanDuel and DraftKings were
smothering the airwaves with ads, which got Brown thinking. Why
weren’t the players tweeting about the daily fantasy?
“I called players that we knew and they told me two things: they
didn’t caring adequate to have an opinion or they prosaic out didn’t
like it,” he said. One player, Pierre Garcon of the Washington
even sued FanDuel for using his picture regularly on an
infomercial but permission or compensation. (They
staid out of court.)
It gave Brown a “light tuber moment,” he said. If fans were really
just personification for fun, not money, because not let the income go to the
player’s charity, something “that is some-more impactful and more
critical to an athlete? And in sell you would be means to win
something that income can’t buy,” like unresolved out with the
He asked the players if they would be peaceful to present their
time or other things if it lifted income for their causes and “100%
of the time, ‘Hell, yeah’ was the answer. Because they didn’t
even have to do anything. They didn’t have to horde a golf
contest or a advantage dinner,” he said.
Brown was laid off from Kiip in Nov and founded his company,
Win-Win in January, just in time to attend the Fantasy Sports
Trade Association (FSTA) discussion in Dallas.
That’s where he pitched his startup thought to a row that included
Cuban didn’t invest, but the bearing helped him land a garland of
other angels who put in about $1 million, he says.
“Within 9 months, we had built a tiny team, lifted a good
cube of income for a first time founder and launched on time,”
Brown says. Win-Win now employs 4 full-time people and
3 contractors, he says.
The first contest was launched in Sep at the start of
football season. The esteem was a outing on a private jet with
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson to watch the LSU
vs. Alabama diversion with him. The contest lifted income for the
Louisiana flood victims around the Baton Rouge Area Foundation on
seductiveness of Peterson.
Other tournaments gave divided sideline tickets to Cardinals and San
Francisco 49ers games, and prizes trimming from sealed jerseys to
discounts at the sports retailer, Fanatics. Brown wants everyone
who plays to win something.
Currently, Win-Win creates its income by holding a tiny percentage
of the entrance fees but he says he’s exploring other fees, too,
maybe on the marketing/advertising side.
For his first year, he’s captivated about 3,500 players and had
over over 65 athletes demonstrate interest. He’s now ramping up to
launch for the NBA deteriorate and rising other ways to play, like
While there’s no revelation if Win-Win will eventually succeed, the
judgment is intriguing. Because all the income goes to charity,
Win-Win may not face the kind of “is-this-gambling?” scrutiny
that creatively tormented FanDuel.
And Brown is vital his second dream of being a tech