Shoot and Score with Fanpics
A mobile app company is flipping the cameras on sports fans.
Oh, snap! Fanpics captures members of
We’re living in the selfie era. From apps that showcase the overly posed self-portraits to Merriam-Webster officially adding the term to its dictionary last year, the selfie has invaded our real and virtual newsfeeds. But Fanpics, a San Diego-based mobile app, is gaining popularity for doing the exact opposite—creating the anti-selfie.
Fanpics snaps photos of spectators during sporting events, with cameras pre-installed in stadiums. The idea is to capture fan’s most authentic reactions, unposed. The free app then indexes those photo-worthy moments, which can be downloaded by inputting your seat number. Of the millions of photos each game yields, fans will find themselves in 20 to 40 images and can then share those images via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
“Every camera in the venue is focused on the court or field, telling the story of the players,” says San Diego native and Fanpics co-founder Marco Correia. “Our idea is to turn those cameras around and give that story to each of the fans as well.” In addition to spontaneous fan reactions captured by a manual operator, favorites, like the Kiss Cam and National Anthem, are automatically recorded.
Will Dickinson thought up the idea while watching a Chelsea soccer game with his dad at home in England. The team made a surprising comeback, and when the younger Dickinson saw fans going nuts, he realized few things ignite people’s emotions like sports.
He developed the concept as a school project, and revisited the idea with Dan Magy, a San Diegan and Dickinson’s classmate at the London School of Economics. In 2011 they approached Correia, who was working at an advertising agency in New York, for his take from a brand perspective. Thirty minutes into their call, Correia was hooked. “I got so excited and saw the potential,” he says. “A few weeks later, we were working together.”
London’s startup and technology culture wasn’t as supportive as that of the U.S. So the guys and software co-founder Victor Chen moved their business across the pond to San Diego, where they could collaborate with UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute to develop the technology. For fundraising, they reached out to private individuals who were well-connected in sports and entertainment. By January 2014 they had settled into their headquarters in the historic Mission Brewery building and launched in SDSU’s Viejas Arena before expanding to StubHub Center last August.
Fanpics is in talks with more than 40 teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, and English Premiere League, and is working on securing sponsorship deals and enabling print enlargements.
And as the team of more than 15 staffers has seen, there are plenty of pictures worth saving—fans in crazy costumes, adorable father-son moments, and looks of despair when the other team wins.
“It’s the difference between an everyday moment of you drinking your beer in the stands and you having that raw emotional experience,” Correia says. “We use the roller coaster analogy, like Splash Mountain. You’re going down the ride, and it captures you with that candid reaction. We’re doing the same thing for sports.”