(Image Credit: T. Maxwell Wagner for SparkLabKC)
It was 1999 and the Kansas Jayhawks Men’s basketball team had some of the most memorable freshman yet, including all-stars Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich. Kyle Rogers, just a kid at the time, told his mom after watching a game, “KU is going to win the National Championship when these guys are seniors.”
Fast forward to 2003, and sure enough, KU played in the National Championship (led by coach Roy Williams), and lost by just a few points. Although his prediction didn’t quite come true, Kyle went to his mom and said, “Hey, remember when I predicted KU would win four years ago?” His mom looked back at him with a blank stare, having not a clue what he was talking about. In that moment, the idea for Knoda was born.
I recently caught up with Kyle to talk with him about his experience with SparkLabKC, what Knoda is up to currently, and his “predictions” for Knoda’s future.
A New Type of Social Competition
Although mobile apps did not yet exist in 2003, Kyle was determined to find a way to record and track his predictions. As technology has evolved over the past decade, he and Knoda co-founder James Flexman found a way to do just that.
“Knoda is a technology platform that records and tracks predictions. Users can make predictions, and then others can interact with the predictions, creating a new type of social competition,” Rogers explained. The app has a feedback loop that determines who was right and who was wrong, and creates reputation scores to rate and rank predictors. In essence, you can earn the right to say, “I told you so!” when you’re right about something.
The app can be used to make and track predictions on any topic, from who will be the next bachelor or bachelorette, to the winner of Esurance’s $1.5 million Super Bowl contest. At scale, new intelligence is created based on the aggregation of millions of individual predictions.
The SparkLabKC Difference
Rogers and Flexman came into SparkLabKC looking for validation of their big idea. During their time in the program, they found this validation and built their first prototype for the app. Kyle noted, “We entered SLKC with a narrow view of how Knoda would end up looking as a business in the future, and came out with business opportunities we had never known were possible.”
The most meaningful aspect for the Knoda team during their accelerator experience was gaining knowledge and feedback from the mentors in the program. Rogers said having the perspectives of experienced mentors from a variety of backgrounds was instrumental when pitching their ideas to future investors.
His advice to future startups in the accelerator is to take advantage of every single day in the 90-day sprint—to leverage the founders, other mentors, and any other resources at your disposal. He also noted the importance of the friendships made with other startups saying, “We’re still very close with some of the other teams in our class.”
The Knoda team has stayed busy post-accelerator. The app is currently available for iPhone and Android, and their user base is growing every day. There have also been several updates since the launch of Knoda to advance the functionality of the app.
One of the biggest advances Rogers is excited about is the recent release of embeddable predictions. Now Knoda content can be embedded on any website, and is a great companion with other sites, especially blogs. Their growth rates have picked up tremendously since this update and the Kansas City Star has begun to use the software to embed predictions in its online content.
We are predicting success for Knoda team as the company continues to evolve and progress. If Kyle ever correctly predicts the winner of the National Championship, he’ll be able to say, “I told you so!”.