The Viva! Vision: Former NFL Players Create ‘App Enablement’ Firm for Athletes, Celebs

Building a Team

What exactly was the opportunity that Tafoya, Carter, and the other new partners — including another ex-NFLer, Chike Okeafor — had bought into? If you go to the current Viva! Vision home page, you see some hints of the company’s former life. There’s a scrolling list of clients along the bottom of the page that instantly impresses: Disney, Playboy, Car & Driver, Sports Illustrated — wow, did these ex-jocks really land all these Tier 1 customers? Or is it smoke?

What it is — using a football analogy — is a bit of a feint, like lining up in a zone defense but then dropping into man-to-man when the ball is snapped. Yes, at one time all those big names were Viva clients but it was all for technology developed under the prior regime, mainly for older platforms like feature phones and dial-up web connections. Some of those contracts are still in place, but Tafoya and company only kept one employee from the past iteration of Viva, to keep the legacy code up and running.

While it isn’t the future, Viva’s past was important to Tafoya and crew for a couple big reasons — it gave them a quick revenue stream and it also gave them entree to the world of developers, something that might have never happen if they started from scratch.

“We got some nice branding, a little bit of history and a nice revenue stream in place,” said Tafoya of the fire-sale acquisition. In the first year of their ownership, Tafoya claims that Viva was able to bring in more than double the purchase price in revenue and even turn a small profit — how many software startups can make that claim?

Like an owner taking over a struggling team, Tafoya and crew then set out a strategy for the future, targeting smartphones and athletes. Though the Viva existing assets gave the team a jump-start, Tafoya jokes that “it would have been great to have a few more draft picks.” Still, the self-described “closet tech nerd” was now fully engaged in a new career.

“We were following opportunity,” Tafoya said. “We saw the chance to leverage our skills and networks for something outside of football. This was just the stepping stone we needed to get back in the game.”

And part of that game is taking advantage of all the assets you have — which include your former NFL status.

Next: Behind the velvet rope

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  1. I am truly honored to have this article written. Paul really does a good job on capturing our journey to the mobile industry. We have a great story and I am happy to be sharing it on Mobile Sports Report!

    • Thanks Joe. Readers note that Joe says while he played six years in the NFL, he was an active player for eight years. Believe some of that was on the practice squad. Plus for those keeping track he went to college at Arizona.

    • David Burbidge says

      Congratulations on Viva! Visions and this excellent article. All the very best

      Dave Burbidge

  2. This was a great article indeed. I want tho also thank Joe Tafoya and Team/Viva! Visions for seeing talent in the Smallest places and empowring them to see opportunity in a smarter way like he did with our companies and the Architeckz his team created a TURFIN App Tool for Urban Street Dance Culture to Market a promote our popular style of dance from Oakland,Ca

    Hopefully we can be part of the hackathon at the upcoming SXSW Interactive conference as well?

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