Fancred, mobile app for hard-core sports fans, hits the showers

Fancred's homepage. The startup was founded in 2012.
Fancred's homepage. The startup was founded in 2012.

Fancred, a mobile app for sports aficionados that debuted in 2013 with an assist from Sox slugger David Ortiz, has laid off its staff of 14 and is looking for a buyer. Hossein Kash Razzaghi, the CEO of the Boston-based company, says he made the decision in late December when the company was unable to raise additional money from investors.

The company had raised about $4.5 million from backers including Accomplice, Militello Capital, and Breakaway Innovation Group.

Fancred had tried to link together followers of sports teams with Android and iPhone apps that let them talk trash with others, view scores and recaps, or live-stream video of their victory dance after a touchdown.

But Razzaghi says the app simply didn’t attract a large enough audience to be able to interest advertisers.

“We focused solely on product development and growth,” he says. “We didn’t feel like we were at a point where we felt it’d make sense to put in advertising.” Razzaghi says the app did run a few experimental marketing campaigns, most recently with Boston-based apparel company 47 Brand.

Razzaghi says that he is keeping the company’s apps alive while he searches for a buyer. But he has returned to Brightcove, the video delivery company where he previously worked, and co-founder Jeremy Merle, also a Brightcove alum, is planning to launch a new digital design agency.

Razzaghi says that when Fancred tried to raise additional funding last year, it encountered investors who were suddenly asking questions about revenue, instead of just app downloads and usage patterns. “A couple of years ago, what they wanted was ‘growth growth growth.’ Now, it’s more revenue,” he says.

“We fought like hell for four years to grow Fancred into something special,” he says. “We had a lot of big wins and big successes, but at the end of the day, we could not grow as fast as we needed to grow to continue funding it with VC money.”

Individual investors who had put money into Fancred included Acquia founder Jay Batson, Boston Chicken mogul George Nadaff, and Linda Pizzuti Henry, managing director of The Boston Globe and wife of Globe owner John W. Henry. The Globe runs this website.

I last wrote about Fancred in 2013, when it raised an initial funding round of $1.5 million and had just graduated from the Techstars Boston accelerator program. BostInno was first today with the news that Razzaghi had left Fancred and returned to Brightcove.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
Follow Scott on Twitter - Facebook - Google+