Hunter Hillenmeyer

President, Overdog & former Chicago Bear

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 05, 2015

Discussion

Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
Hi, my name is Hunter Hillenmeyer. I'm the President at Overdog, whose mission is to improve online multiplayer gaming by connecting people through the interests and communities they care about. Our Xbox One app launched in April and has a second major update coming out in next few weeks. We are growing quickly, and I would love to talk about how people are using Overdog to get more out of all their favorite games, or where we see the company going next. I'm also a former Chicago Bear, having played linebacker there from 2003-2010. I served on the Board of the NFLPA for five of those eight years. I am also happy to talk about life in the NFL, the reinvention process that former athletes deal with when they leave the game, or the business side of sports. I'm also an angel investor, so I can weigh in on both sides of the table about the process of raising capital as well. I'm also husband, Dad to two little girls, and overall start-up enthusiast, so AMA.
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
Hey Hunter! Do you have any odd, semi-superstitious game day rituals you swear by to make sure the Bears win when they play?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@lejlahunts Haha, not anymore. As I know less and less of the active roster these days, I feel much more like a normal fan than a former player. Back in my playing days we would develop all kinds of quirks that we convinced ourselves would affect the outcome. I would call them more "routines" than "superstitions." For example, for a Noon CST game, I could tell you within a minute or two where I would be at any moment from about 7:30am til kick-off. E.G. 10:27am: Getting my ankles taped and listening to music.
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi @hthill thanks so much for joining us today. Would love to hear what you think has been the most successful strategy in growing the core audience of overdo users? What tactics have helped increase usage most? New games? Tech publications? Interviews? Love to hear your thoughts.
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@harrystebbings There's a lot in that one question. The most successful core feature on Overdog by far has been "Game Nights." There are lots of gaming communities out there, on Reddit, Twitter, built around YouTube channels, who want to game together. Overdog gives those kinds of communities a hub for connecting on the console. Overdog has made what used to be a cumbersome process much easier for groups to find each other get in a game.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey what are some of the challenges you face now that you thought you would never have to face previously?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@bentossell Being the scrappy start-up is hard. When Overdog was just getting started, we were calling on Microsoft, Sony, major game publishers like EA and Activision. These are not the easiest companies to partner with by reputation. That really flew in the face of the day-to-day of an NFL athlete, where you are generally catered to and doted upon in a sometimes hilariously overdone fashion. It ate some humble pie in the early days of Overdog when we had a hard time getting on the radar of the big boys in our industry. Now I wear that underdog status as more of a badge on honor than anything.
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@hthill @bentossell Glad you're seeing success with the current Microsoft partnership now and hope that means other platforms will be knocking on *your* door.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What have you learnt on the angel investing side of things? What is your strategy there?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@ems_hodge I'm not a professional investor. So Rule 1 for me is to keep my total exposure to such a risky investment class small. I only do a few investments a year, and there haven't really been any themes to emerge. I focus on team first, then product.
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
What are the best and worst things about being based out of a growing tech hub like Nashville vs. an established tech hub like NY or SF?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@jamestodd Ha, we get asked this by VCs a lot too. Nashville is a city with a huge tailwind. Its on all "the lists" right now. There is a pretty strong hub of engineers mostly because that area is a huge city for healthcare tech. That's a key ingredient obviously. Our team is from all over. We have a few local guys, employees from LA, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and New York. Nashville is an easy sell. It nets out as a much bigger asset than a liability.
Kevin Ayuque@kevinayuque
Any plans to port the app to PS4?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@kevinayuque We are literally meeting in an hour to discuss some of our product roadmap. We've been approved to build a Steam version of the app which is amazing, so that will happen at some point. Windows 10 and the larger effect that "one-platform" vision for Microsoft has on Overdog will also influence our next year. Xbox is by far our most important partner right now, and we want to nail the Xbox One version of Overdog and do right by that relationship before we get distracted.
Glen Herold@glenherold · Founder, GOAT
Hey @hthill, can you talk about the process of getting distribution on Xbox? How proven was Overdog prior to that deal? How did you acquire that market proof without built-in distribution? Was that type of deal always a critical piece of your strategy or something that developed over time as you gained success?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@glenherold Overdog started out as a mobile app, brokering gaming sessions between users on the Xbox 360 and PS3. We had pretty compelling data, even in those early days where we forced users to switch devices, and jump through all kinds of hoops to get connected, that our users were gaming longer, adding people to their friends' lists, and becoming more valuable to the console over their lifetime. That was enough to convince Xbox to let us build a native version of Overdog on the console. There were only 22 apps in that Xbox One apps marketplace when we got that approval. We were probably the first true start-up to get past the gatekeeper. Kudos to Xbox, they now have more than 3x that number of apps, but we were a trailblazer for sure. They are doing their best to open up to 3rd party apps for the future of that platform.
Seth Louey@sethlouey · 🙌 2017 & 2016 Maker of the Year Nominee
Hey @hthill! Creating a community is a challenging goal, especially on a new platform such as Xbox One. What has been a valuable lesson that you learned over the years developing Overdog. PS - Who is the coolest product designer you know? ;) #LoadedQuestionsAreFun
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@sethlouey The toughest part about building community on consoles is that there is no keyboard. Back and forth communication is so key to that sense of community that finding ways to deal with that limitation are key. Overdog also has to strike that balance about building community versus the end objective of going to play a game. If you find awesome people to play with on Overdog, and then go hop into a game of Destiny, we've done our job. Making sure people continue to come back is where that need for community comes full circle. We want users to think of Overdog first, as a place to find gamers, and even to find out what the people you care about are playing tonight.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hey Hunter! Thanks for being here today. 🙌During your varied career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment? Thanks!
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
@hthill Thanks for having lunch with us. This was really great. Favorite person to play against on Overdog?
jamestodd@jamestodd · Serial encourager and delighter
Have there been any synergies to come out of the investment from Zynga? Any changes to the people you partner with in the exec shake-up there?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@jamestodd What James is referencing is that Mark Pincus is a small investor in Overdog. That's really the extend of the relationship. We have to be thoughtful about strategic investors because, in some ways, Overdog wants to be Switzerland. We want to connect gamers across all platforms, anywhere that people are playing online multiplayer games. We've started on Xbox One, and Microsoft has been an amazing partner, but we don't want to block access to future platforms because of who is on our cap table.
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@hthill What do you think of athlete investors like Carmelo Anthony? Are there a lot more folks we don't know about?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@jeffumbro Good question. The biggest advantage that celebrities have in terms of investing is deal flow. Almost any consumer-facing product could use the bump of free promotion from an Ashton Kutcher or Carmelo. As a result, those guys always get a look at hot deals. There are a lot of influencers who invest in start-ups, but most of them either have a full time partner who leads the diligence, or they largely just follow people whom they trust. I don't fall perfectly into either of those buckets, as I really only do two or three small investments a year.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@jacqvon How do I not bite on the open invitation to brag! I don't have one specific thing. My broader goal has always been to be authentic and dispel stereotypes. I've always been a straight shooter; my Overdog co-founder Steve and my wife Shannon might call me blunt. I like to think the world would be a better place with more candor and less pretense. As far as dispelling stereotypes, I think getting degrees from Vandy and Kellogg while playing elite football in the SEC and the NFL was a great challenge. But there are stereotypes about athletes beyond just the "dumb jock" label that I'm proud to avoid. I'm happily married with two beautiful daughters. I'm totally passionate about Overdog and the start-up world in a more general sense, which flies in the face of some of the stereotypes of athletes who either go bankrupt or just kind of float through life-after-football with our passion or direction.
JJ@outdreamer · Web Developer/Writer/Idea-generator
What do you see changing in future with regard to sports & sports video games? I think sports would get a lot more interesting if they grouped players by: - favorite cereal/TV show/celebrity/hero/major - athlete stats (so grouping by weight/height classes or reaction time classes like they have in wrestling, but in other sports) - supplement usage (so players taking certain performance-enhancing substances would only play others doing the same) Also they could raise the stakes for game outcomes - we might see a dystopian sport outcome determine the tax rates for fans & other legislation or privileges. What factors do you think could have an impact on or be impacted by a sports match outcome (the stock market, research funding, choice of college majors, etc)? How do you think sports video games will adjust with incoming virtual reality tech? Are you going to expand your games to include strategy suggestions, like 'Play X would result in player Y getting a good angle'?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@outdreamer I'm gonna focus on the sports games and VR parts of your question. We're kind of maxed out on how realistic sports and shooter games can be in their current form. Only incremental stuff will change there on being able to see the sweat more clearly on Marshawn Lynch's arm as he runs. I actually think VR for sports viewing and for sports games could be amazing. There are people willing to bet that FPS (first person shooter) type games will actually be too realistic to have massive appeal through VR. Anyone who has done a VR demo where you are standing on the edge of a building can relate to the paralysis your brain can impose of the rest of body. I think the potential for sports games has a much higher threshold to actually change the medium entirely.
JJ@outdreamer · Web Developer/Writer/Idea-generator
@hthill @outdreamer Do you think android athletes will appear in real life sports, or just in video games? They already have robot wars but when athletes start enhancing their abilities with tech, they're going to have to compete with other enhanced players.
Haider Syed@haidersyed · Co-Founder, Frostbite
Hi @hthill! Absolute pleasure to talk to you today on Product Hunt Live. As a huge sports enthusiast, I love seeing former athletes test themselves in the business world post-sports career. Would you say it almost provides the competitive nature that you might have missed after retiring from the NFL? Also - in terms of being a VC - what would you recommend for an aspiring VC who would love to get involved at the VC-level at some point in the future, to pursue career wise? Thanks! Haider
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
@haidersyed I think being a pro athlete and a start-up founder actually have a ton in common. Both sets of people are uber-passionate, totally focused on wins and losses, and fully exposed to their own ability to create value and make a difference. There is nowhere to hide in sports. They have better talent evaluation metrics than any Fortune 500 company. The same could be said for start-ups: produce or perish! My advice for an aspiring VC: be an operator. They make better investors, and there is not better way to learn what its like to be a struggling entrepreneur than to be one yourself.
Inlovewith01@inlovewith01
@hthill Hi, I've got 3 questions. 1. I always ask this one because I'm collecting short powerful quotes: What's the best advice you can give to entrepreneurs in 5 words or less? 2. 3 questions in 1: - Do you think the sports industry is doing enough to keep up with millennials? (on social media, tech, etc.) - And what should they (sports clubs, players, sports broadcasters, etc.) do to engage with these millennials? - What improvements / changes do they need? 3. How does the future of sports look like?
Hunter Hillenmeyer@hthill · President, Overdog
Thanks for all the great questions, Product Hunters! Its lunchtime here in Chicago, so I have to run. Shoot me an email at Hunter@overdog.com if you have more questions about Overdog.