While in training camp with the Chicago Bears a few years ago, Hunter Hillenmeyer noticed a large chunk of the team was obsessed with “Words With Friends,” the popular Facebook mobile game that pits friends against each other in a Scrabble-like environment.
At that moment, Hillenmeyer wondered what it would be like if fans could also join in with players on the fun.
A few years later, with an eight-year NFL career behind him, Hillenmeyer’s dream is almost a reality. OverDog, the app he’s currently developing, allows gamers to play their favorite games with their favorite athletes.
The way it works is simple. After the free app is downloaded, gamers share their gamertag for their gaming system and tell OverDog what teams they root for. After that, the player, once they become a subscriber and pay a monthly fee, can see challenges made by professional athletes. Hillenmeyer said that the yearly free would be sold for $20 on Kickstarter and once the campaign is over, a yearly subscription would cost $25. Once the gamer clicks on an active challenge, they will be placed in a random drawing to see who gets to play with the athlete. If they win, the game begins.
Ever wanted to play a virtual game of your favorite sport or even “Halo” or “Call of Duty” with your favorite athlete? OverDog wants to make it happen.
“We want to build a platform for connecting people for any fun activity,” Hillenmeyer, who attended Vanderbilt University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a double major in Human & Organizational Development and Economics, said. “Playing Guitar Hero with Slash or some trivia game with Ken Jennings just sounds like too cool of an experience for someone not to be providing.”
Although the project has not yet been completed, NFL veterans Randy Moss, Matt Forte and Madden 13 cover athlete Calvin Johnson have already pledged their allegiance to it. Football players aren’t the only ones interested in the project. MMA star Heath Herring, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher and MLB 2K13 cover athlete David Price and USA Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Conor Dwyer have agreed to back OverDog.
In the process of gaining funds via Kickstarter, in a week, OverDog has already raised $28,614 of the $100,000 it needs to get the project fully functional. Hillenmeyer, 32, who became a tech entrepreneur and has also written financial columns for The Street.com is confident this new path will be a worthwhile one.
“I'm all about pursuing your passions,” said Hillenmeyer a former draft pick of the Green Bay Packers. “For me, that involved a lot of things, family and faith first, but I have always the start-up itch and getting the chance to build a company like this in the sports space is just too cool not to embrace.”
Hillenmeyer however admits that he didn’t play video games with fans during his playing days.
“I think part of the reason for that is there is no easy way to make that happen right now,” Hillenmeyer said. “The athlete has to share his gamer tag publicly, risks getting harassed, once he does and that still leaves all the steps of friending each other on the console, and getting the game started. OverDog automates all of that.”
But if the funding for the project is successful, Hillenmeyer doesn’t see any reason why he wouldn’t jump in on the fun himself.
“I will definitely be on there trying to play against guys from teams I like,” he said. “I might try to take down a few Packers players too, just to put them in their place.”