Michigan Startup’s March Madness Web App Fabulously Successful

EAST LANSING – Supported Intelligence LLC offered the SmartBracket web app for the first time this past March for the NCAA College Basketball championship. SmartBracket’s national bracket scored in the Ninety-fifith  percentile in both ESPN and Yahoo’s bracket contests – ahead of 12 million brackets on ESPN and 516,000 brackets on Yahoo.

The app was a fast hit – attracting hundreds of users in just a four-day window.

Users answered three quick questions about how they they thought their opponents might be picking and specified teams they thought were under- or over-rated. Then users were provided with a filled out bracket, optimized to win their unique March Madness pool.

The entire process took less than two minutes, during which SI’s Rapid Recursive® Toolbox evaluated all 9 quintillion bracket possibilities, and picked one designed to give the user a mathematical advantage over their competition.

The madness began on March seventeenth and didn’t stop until Villanova’s buzzer-beater win over North Carolina in the final on April fourth Ten double-digit seeds upset their favored opponents and advanced to the second round – an all-time NCAA Tournament high.

Only the luckiest of the lucky won their pools this year, right?

SmartBracket users might argue differently.

More than 35 percent of users responding to SI’s survey won their pools – many of which had 50 or more participants.

Over 60 percent of users responding to the survey got third or better. That’s better than flipping a coin.

SmartBracket’s success was a combination of both powerful software and an innovative approach.

“By design, SmartBracket doesn’t go for a perfect bracket. What it does is hedge the user’s bet to produce a series of incremental advantages over others in their pool,” said Neal Anderson, Lead Developer at SI. “We have merged our proprietary, decision-making software with the spirit of game theory to take advantage of the gap between a team’s true and perceived strength. This gives users a mathematical edge, right from opening tip-off.”

SmartBracket cost just $1. How could such an inexpensive product be so successful?

“Its not luck,” says Jeff Johnson, VP at SI, “It’s a science.”

“We used SmartBracket to demonstrate how powerful and widely applicable our software is. Our Marketing Strategy, Inventory Management, and Financial Analysis applications are powered by the same first-in-the-world software.”

Anderson and Johnson are graduates of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, respectively.

More than 95 percent of responding users said they would use the app again.

SI plans to offer SmartBracket next year as a mobile app in two versions: one offering more customization options for super-fans, and a simple version for the rest of us.

This column was written by Neal Anderson Lead Developer Supported Intelligence