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Can Chicagoans' app rival fantasy sports?

  • Wanna make a friendly wager with your friends on who will lead the Hawks in scoring some night? There's an app for that now.
Wanna make a friendly wager with your friends on who will lead the Hawks in… (Brian Cassella / Chicago…)
December 26, 2013|By Courtney Jacquin | RedEye

Being a sports fan is serious business. Lifelong friends and business partners Ross Karel, Todd Heyden and Jason Kreiter know that firsthand.

"We're sports guys," said Heyden, 30, a founding partner of Lock.

As sports guys, they figured there was a fan experience missing for a younger, fast-paced generation.

"We just wanted to build something that would change the reputation of what fantasy [leagues] had become, something that was so time consuming that there's a reason only a minority of sports fans are playing fantasy," Heyden said.

And thus the Chicago residents created Lock, an interactive app that allows fans to make fantasy-like predictions between two players—which player will have more passing yards, which player will have more points, and so on.

Compatible with Apple and Android phones, Lock also allows users to "wager" against their friends who disagree. Wagers can be from $1 to $25, and the app tracks how many you win and lose.

The app doesn't actually charge the amount you choose to bet; it's not a gambling tool in that sense. So if any money is to change hands, it's your job to track down your deadbeat friends if you feel so inclined.

Lock touts features beyond betting as well: Users can peruse stats of the players and teams they're wagering on, as well as read recent stories.

"We wanted to build something lightweight, something very mobile of course, and something that was social," Heyden said. "As we were looking at the different spaces it was funny because sports didn't have that polarizing app that had taken over the social world yet."

Lock wasn't the first brand the business partners attempted. They launched Sporier in June 2012, a website that was a "heavier" version of the Lock app, Heyden said, that required users to create their own challenges. After re-evaluation, Lock was launched in August 2013.

The business change was a wise one: More than 42,000 predictions and 15,000 wagers have been made in the past three weeks.

At the moment, users have five sports to chose from: NBA, NFL, MLB, NCAA football and NCAA men's basketball, but more sports are likely on the horizon in 2014.

"There's a huge market for golf, huge market for soccer with the World Cup coming up, cricket, tennis, MMA and hockey," Heyden said. "We want it to be the app for any type of sports fan."

Lock is available for free download now.

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