With less than one month to the season eight premiere, avid Game of Thrones fans from all around the world eagerly wait with plenty of predictions: Who will kill the Night King? How many times will Tyrion and Cersei Lannister sip wine on the first episode? If their predictions are right, Emily Dones and Daniel Weintraub want to reward them.
Dones is a Miami alum working to tackle one specific question as the chief design director of Let's Pick!, a new mobile app: What if there was a way to cast predictions and win prizes on TV show-themed questions and more in a competition with friends and family?
Inspired by the games Weintraub's college friend group used to play at the University of Maryland, Let's Pick! gives players the ability to build their own contests about anything they want.
Weintraub, Let's Pick! CMO, founded the company with Nick Pagliarulo, CEO, and Jason Fleischer, CFO, a week after their college graduation in 2016.
"We were big sports fans and started out creating these games on Google Sheets and Google Docs, starting with March Madness," Weintraub said. "We were creating these really intricate games that weren't available online, customizing our own scoring and creating our own rules. We did it for four years and have had so much joy from it and so we realized,'Why end there?'"
Weintraub and his friends noticed a major opportunity in the saturated fantasy gaming industry: almost 99 percent of platforms were focused on sports. The team built Let's Pick! with the desire to break from existing fantasy gaming platforms by not restricting users to any one topic or activity.
Let's Pick! users can either play for free or compete for prizes on the app. For example, if five friends each enter $5 worth of tokens for a Game of Thrones competition, the winner would receive $25 worth of tokens. They can then trade those tokens in for small prizes at the Let's Pick! Marketplace, such as a waffle maker or outdoor tennis set, or save up in hopes of accumulating enough tokens to win a bigger prize, such as a pool table, as they continue to play in future contests.
Dones graduated from Miami in 2016 with a degree in architecture and minor in entrepreneurship. She says she's always had an eye for design and is leaning on her Miami experiences to help build their platform.
"I did multiple startup weekends, designed business models and financial projections," Dones said. "The professors were amazing and they really drill everything into you, even as far as pitching ideas to real investors."
Dones was introduced to Weintraub by a fellow Miami alum in 2018. She and Jack Amend, chief development officer, joined the company in the summer of 2018. The whole Let's Pick! team works to develop their app while also working full-time jobs.
"We all have day jobs," Weintraub said. "I'm in medical sales, Emily is an engineer, Nick is a production assistant at ESPN, Jason is a CPA in New York City and Jack is a college student double majoring in computer science and mathematics while minoring in dance."
Weintraub says he is most eager about the impact and potential reach of Let's Pick! on communities like Miami.
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"Let's Pick! gives everyone the chance to compete, connect and win at their own pace and maybe even just over the dinner table," he said.
Weintraub believes the potential of Let's Pick! could impact not only the fantasy gaming and entertainment industry, but also follow the path of platforms like Kahoot, which allows users to implement games into a school's curriculum to increase student engagement.
Let's Pick! is currently available on iOS and users can expect updates over the next couple months, in time for the return of shows like American Idol and RuPaul's Drag Race.