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

Behind the velvet rope

At the AT&T event, the Viva team got a lot of buzz with their description of the forthcoming Jason Terry app. Though it wasn’t an interactive demo, the slide of the proposed app main page was intuitive and creative: It looked like a mockup of a basketball player’s locker, with obvious links to things like social media outlets, and one for training videos. Terry, a friend of the Viva leaders, is like many athletes of this day and age who are conscious of their own celebrity and the possible business behind it. And Viva wants to help those athletes get there, via the web and through smartphone apps.

“The first thing we are asking [prospective clients] is are you interested in capturing an audience, or do you want to just make money up front,” said Carter. “Every one of them says they want to capture an audience. That’s where we come in. These players have a value that is worth more than advertisers or teams tell them. There are ways to extend their reach. We’re dedicated to helping them do that.”

Carter and Tafoya can talk for length about back-end application functionality, such as the need to deliver audience metrics that show what parts of the site have the most traffic, and what might happen to the site after an athlete Tweets.

“The true intent is to give something to [the athlete] to educate them as to who their fan base is,” Tafoya said. While the Viva leaders aren’t programmers themselves, they are “leveraging engineering expertise” by sub-contracting the ones and zeros work to established firms. For the Terry app, Viva is using the services of a firm called Apptango. For another new app the Viva team put out, a football game called Mobile Linebacker, they tapped a company called VODA Digital.

Instead of being code jockeys, the Viva leaders employ the code of the locker room — mainly their status as ex-NFLers — to add the important feature of lead generation to the business.

“There’s a certain trust, a certain brotherhood, that goes along with having been there,” said Tafoya. By being ex-players, the Viva team says they have “unlimited access” to the brands themselves — the other players they know, and friends of friends. Plus, the Viva team has their own NFL celebrity status, which they aren’t hesitant to employ.

Though Viva is using some AT&T developer services to build its new apps, it’s hard to say who’s getting more leverage from the deal. AT&T even made a quick video highlighting the Viva! team, and Tafoya was a big hit at the developer event in Vegas. And Viva is going to be part of a live hackathon at the upcoming SXSW Interactive conference, at an AT&T-sponsored event.

“At the summit we got to meet people like [HTC CEO] Peter Chou and [AT&T exec] David Christopher, as well as Ballmer,” Tafoya said. “We all talked backstage and it felt like we really belonged there. The good thing is, we know them now so that makes the second or third business discussions we’re going to have a lot easier.”

Whether or not Viva! Vision succeeds will depend on how well Tafoya, his team and their partners can deliver the goods. For sure, they have entered a competitive field, with developers of all stripes trying to mine the fertile fields of athlete and celebrity interaction. ┬áBut if the team’s constant Twitter updates are any indication, they have found some open field ahead to run hard.

“It has been by no means easy but part of getting a good deal is working your tail off to make things happen,” Tafoya said.

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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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