Your next sports obsession? This simple yet addicting (and free) prediction app

This is one in a series of stories that highlights each company in the 2019 class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Visit LIFT Labs to learn more about this world-class program for connectivity, media and entertainment startups, and get information on applications for the next class.

Matt Bailey has always been a big sports fan. In his home country of Australia, that means rooting for cricket and rugby teams. When he arrived in Brooklyn, it meant learning the intricacies of American football, baseball and hockey.

But Bailey didn't just want to watch — he wanted to participate. He played fantasy football but found it too time-consuming. He thought about newly legal wagering, but didn't have enough knowledge to bet real money on games. Why couldn't he make some simple predictions about sporting events — like which team will win, who'll gain the most yards and who'll score the first touchdown?

It led him to build GameOn, which offers simple prediction contests for everyday fans. A typical GameOn game features about eight questions and players accumulate points with each correct answer. It's free to play, brand supported and winners earn cash prizes.

"We're breaking down engagement barriers for people who don't necessarily know a lot about sports," Bailey said. "We're turning standard moments — like a touchdown or a player gaining a certain number of yards — into what feels like match-winning moments for the fan as they're getting right answers."

The gameplay is super simple. There's no player drafting, no hard-to-understand point system and no reliance on complicated analysis and knowledge before actually playing.

"Platforms built for fantasy leagues are made for hardcore fans, and there are serious engagement barriers for the everyday fan," Bailey said. "We feel that all fans — both experts and novices — will enjoy our platform because it is both challenging to win and accessible at the same time."

Be Transparent and Communicate

Bailey spent his career working in brand partnerships for sports teams and creative agencies. He even founded the Brooklyn Kings Rugby League Football Club. His philosophy on running and growing companies is akin to being successful at sports: Keep a positive attitude through the highs and lows.

"Everyone has to understand that there will be ups and downs," he said. "As long as we communicate, work on any issues and quickly get past them, we're all going to be okay."

For 13 weeks this summer, Bailey and GameOn's Head of Product and Technology Chuck Kelly were in Philadelphia to take part in the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator, powered by Techstars. They met with valuable mentors inside and outside of Comcast NBCUniversal, who shared incredible insight into their business models and investor pitches. One pilot underway with Comcast Business is for engaging restaurant and bar patrons through the Xfinity X1 entertainment platform.

"We have our foot in the door with multiple people within Comcast, the Philly region and Philly's sports landscape," Bailey said. "From the introductions to the curriculum, it's been 10 out of 10 so far."

One lesson they learned is to continue iterating on the product, so it becomes a go-to part of any sports fan's day.

"Our No. 1 focus is homing in on the product," Bailey said. "We're getting into the nitty-gritty of user funnels. Where are people dropping off? What's working? What isn't? We're refining that, then moving into growth mode as the NFL season heats up."

Kelly is a lifelong tinkerer who even founded a few social networks (his most recent was Campus Chill). He has become a startup addict and can't see himself working in any other type of company.

"I've lived life with a startup and without it, and I'm always happier in a startup," Kelly said. "It's something I want to wake up early for and stay up late for. Running a startup is the best feeling in the world to me."

Kelly particularly enjoyed the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator and says working side-by-side with the other 10 startups in the cohort pushed the GameOn team to work harder.

"Being around people who are so motivated helps us stay motivated," Bailey said. "We're around other startups going through similar struggles and there's a lot of relatability there."

The future is bright for GameOn. The product is being refined every day and they're continually attracting new users.

"If you build an amazing product and build something sports fans really appreciate, they'll come back and play again and again," Kelly said.

Disclosure: Comcast and NBCUniversal are parent of CNBC.

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