Written by Kevin Volz.
Chris Dell’s career in news started at age 15 as a sports reporter for his local newspaper. Since then, he has worked for major news outlets such as the New York Times and New York Daily News. After working as a journalist for 11 years, Dell identified what he considered a major problem with news in general – too much information from too many outlets. Even working in the industry, it was hard for Dell to get all of his sports news on a daily basis without having to visit 10 different social media sites.
Dell’s solution to this social challenge is Go Baller, an app that sifts through the most viral social media posts in sports and puts them into one place. The end result is a compilation of posts from social outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram and YouTube. For the app’s launch, the focus is on the NBA, with the goal of eventually including all sports on the platform.
“Go Baller saves sports fans time,” said Dell. “You can see all the content you want in one simple feed. We are aiming to be the ultimate social hub for sports fans.”
The app is interactive, allowing users to vote content up or down, share posts and leave comments. Fans using the free app can customize their Go Baller stream so they only see content from their favorite teams, players and interests.
“Social really is the ultimate search engine,” said Dell. “For a lot of people, it’s actually now more common to get content from social media rather than Google. The challenge is compiling all of those social feeds into one place to make it easier for the end user.”
The Go Baller team is a network of journalists with the sole mission of being social curators for the service. They’ve been developing news content for traditional media for decades, and use this expertise to ensure users are receiving only the most viral and popular content. They apply both a human algorithm and viral filters including likes, shares, hashtags and keywords.
“Our team is comprised of social media experts who save consumers and brands time and hassle,” said Dell. “Just like the Associated Press is for news, our goal is to be the social media newswire of the future for all types of brands.”
Go Baller is also a powerful tool for sports teams looking to better connect with fans. The system allows teams to compile and showcase their social content across all channels on their mobile app or website, alongside their player statistics, schedules and news and video content.
“There’s a learning curve for teams trying to do this themselves, and many team mobile apps are lacking the interactive social media element,” said Dell. “Go Baller can create a custom feed so the process is automated, cleanly packaged and maintenance-free.”
Go Baller moved to Cleveland in August 2014 after being accepted into Bizdom, an accelerator in Cleveland funded by Ohio Third Frontier. Bizdom invested $25,000 in the company, helping Dell move from New York City and build the Go Baller code from scratch.
“We wouldn’t be here without Bizdom,” said Dell. “In the program, we worked alongside 11 other startups. Being in that environment and working out of the same office as other entrepreneurs was a priceless experience. Bizdom does a great job of recognizing good ideas and talents and matching startups with strong mentors. I spent my whole career as a journalist and would not have known how to start my company without Bizdom.”
Since graduating from Bizdom, Dell has developed a passion for Cleveland and wants to continue growing his company in the city.
“I fell in love with Cleveland. It was the right fit for Go Baller because it’s such a huge sports city,” said Dell. “Who wouldn’t want to launch a sports media startup in the accelerator founded by the owner of the Cavs, and in the city that’s home to LeBron James?”
The free Go Baller app was launched on Android in late April 2015, with an iPhone launch expected in May 2015. In the future, Dell hopes to expand his company beyond sports to other industries like fashion, retail, food and travel. Go Baller, which currently consists of five full-time employees, is in the process of raising more funding and building its sales team.