On today’s show, the CEO of React Frank Maggio and former NFL Super Bowl Champion Matt Birk, join us to talk about Super Squares and how they intend to dominate the “squares” industry.

Video from Frank Maggio and Matt Birk Interview

Show notes from Frank Maggio and Matt Birk Interview

Ryan Knuppel: All right, welcome back to another episode of the Knup Sports Show. I’m your host, Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Hey, we’re up to episode 119, and today I have some very special guests that are going to tell us all about their new platform that’s coming up. Frank Maggio is with me. Frank, welcome.

Frank Maggio: Thank you. Thank you.

Ryan Knuppel: And Matt Birk. Matt is with me as well. Matt, welcome.

Matt Birk: Thank you, Ryan.

Ryan Knuppel: Hey, I’m really looking forward to hearing what you guys have going on with Super Squares. But before we get going with that, Frank, let’s hear a little bit about… I know you’re the CEO, managing director of this company. I’d like to hear a little bit more about your career path and what led you to where you are today with Super Squares.

Frank Maggio: Awesome. Yeah, so I used to work for Procter & Gamble right out of college and learned right away that the advertising industry needed help, and that ad skipping was going to be a problem. The VCR had just come out, and I could see that the remote control on the VCR, people were sending us a signal, “I want fewer ads. There are too many.” So I thought, “There’s got to be a way to fix this ad thing.”

Frank Maggio: And at the same time, I happened to come across a contest at a grocery store, and that contest had to do with Monday Night Football. And it had to do with brands getting your attention for every Monday night game for two months. And I won it and I figured out how to turn every game card into $5,500. And I collected 4,000 of them and turned in $21 million worth of scratch off cards. And my career careened into a different direction once that happened.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. That’s an amazing story. That’s unbelievable. That’s a really amazing story. So keep going. So keep going, so tell us a little bit more now.

Frank Maggio: So I retired from Procter & Gamble at the age 25 and moved to Florida. And while I got really interested in real estate because I see things differently. I saw redevelopment was a great opportunity. I could see things coming out of things that weren’t there yet. But I never gave up this idea that advertising needs to be fixed. And I kept hearing this knocking in my head that’s like, “Make it a game. Get people excited. Make people want to pay attention like what happened to you, Frank.”

Frank Maggio: So I started patenting ideas around the gamification of advertising so that we would incentivize your attention through contesting, adrenalizing the whole environment sort of like a sport. And so I filed probably 30 patents, I’ve been issued about over a dozen, and we now have a business built around the idea of thinking of advertising as a sport. And we’re starting by reaching sports fans because they’re the most adrenalized audiences already, and they’re the most valuable.

Frank Maggio: So our business builds games about ads and sports, and we reward people for paying attention, and we take the ad spend, and we give them a portion of it in for their attention, building a brand new ecosystem.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s really cool. Well, congrats on all that success, and what a cool path to get where you are today. Amazing. So tell us a little bit about, I know Super Squares is the latest and greatest that you guys have and that you’re working on, just tell us a little bit high level what Super Squares is and kind of where they can find it and what it is.

Frank Maggio: Sure. Well, I’d like Matt, actually let Matt kind of pipe in a little bit because he’s made some interesting observations about not only what Super Squares is, but by comparing it to an existing industry called fantasy sports, he actually helped me look at it quite differently. And I wouldn’t mind if you would let him kind of pipe in on that.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, that’s amazing. And I was going to introduce Matt a little further here down the show, but let’s jump in now, Matt. Matt, I’d love to hear from you and introduce yourself just a little bit. I’m sure most of the listeners probably have heard of you, but let’s a little background on you and then a little bit about Super Squares.

Matt Birk: Well, thanks, Ryan. Yeah, my story is not as cool as Frank’s. I just played for 15 years in the NFL and won a Super Bowl. I thought that was a pretty good story until I met Frank and he told me about the scratch off game and after that.

Matt Birk: But yeah, so I retired in 2013 after winning the Super Bowl with the Ravens and have an entrepreneurial spirit and work on a lot of different projects and companies. And got connected with Frank about a year ago, and listening to him talk about advertising, and it’s the biggest game in the world. I love to compete. And I saw what this reactive advertising is, it’s a solution to a massive problem. One that I’ve experienced in my own small businesses, but one that we all just intuitively know that it exists, that advertising really doesn’t work that well. And with Super Squares, what it is is it’s, Ryan, you know the old football squares game that everybody played?

Ryan Knuppel: 100%.

Matt Birk: Yeah, right? So a hundred million people know how to play that game. Problem is, is one, it’s always been done on paper, so it’s clunky and antiquated. And two, it’s really not that much fun. Yeah, of course, I’ll buy a box. And then, if you’re like me, you get like five, five as your number combination. You just made a donation. And you don’t really play, there’s nothing to do after you get your numbers.

Matt Birk: Well, the version that Frank had created, he says it’s squares with a twist. I say it’s squares on steroids. What we have now is you make three predictions about the game before the game so there’s a skill level involved, skill element. And then, instead of just getting one number combination, you actually get four number combinations. That’s a Super Square. And we give you a new Super Square every quarter, so it’s always changing. There’s always something to do. You’re actually actively participating in the game as a fan.

Matt Birk: And that’s what we want. Listen, I played 15 years in the NFL, but I’m a sports fan. I started as a sports fan. I’m going to die as a sports fan. I just had this period in the middle where I got to play. And when I think about it from a business perspective, fantasy football is this little cottage industry that started 40 years ago. Some guy came up with it, and it’s grown. It’s an $18 billion a year industry. That’s bigger than the NFL.

Matt Birk: I worked at the NFL league office for two years. That’s bigger than the NFL, and nobody owns that industry. It’s fully matured now. The potential squares audience is much bigger than fantasy football. They say 35, 40 million people play fantasy. A hundred million people are familiar with squares. And this industry is just starting out, and Frank has secured the IP around this entire industry. So from a business perspective, it’s very exciting to be involved at the ground floor, day one, if you will, as we launched it this year.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s super cool. Let me ask, how did you guys connect? Where did you two connect? How did that happen?

Frank Maggio: You tell him.

Matt Birk: Well, before I came on board, Frank teamed up with a guy named Tim Sabean. Tim Sabean is the one who launched the Howard Stern channels back in the ’90s. And just so happens that Tim Sabean was at my wedding 19 years ago because he and my father-in-law have known each other since they were four years old and grew up together and are best friends. So it’s funny how life works and how people come, get in, out of your life, and the reasons that they come into your life. So that’s how, it was through Tim Sabean that Frank and I became acquainted, and now we’re joined at the hip. We’re teammates.

Ryan Knuppel: Really cool. Really cool. Really cool. So let’s dive a little bit further into Super Squares. So the one thing when I think of square games, all I think about is Super Bowl. Just to be honest, I think about the Super Bowl and squares. So I’m assuming maybe you guys are focusing around more. You can play squares around other games, maybe even other sports, or is it all football? Tell us a little bit about that. And can you play it year long? And is it an app? Is it a web developed website? What is it?

Frank Maggio: Great question. Actually, Ryan, we are a multi-sport, multi-game solution. We deployed in the Minnesota market through KFAN, an iHeart station, in the Minneapolis market. We tested in other markets, but we’ve been really focused on one market. And we’ve been handling every football game, or every game day, we’ve had a Super Squares game since the beginning of the season. And we’re growing. So in a relatively small market, we’re now peaking three to 4,000 people a game are playing, and it’s growing every week.

Frank Maggio: And now, the buzz is catching on because Matt’s right. It’s kind of hard when you’re the owner and the vendor to look at it from the outside. So I love hearing other people talk about it. I can learn from what they don’t like, but it gets great feedback. And we really have created a very fun game that reaches casual and aggressive sports fans.

Frank Maggio: Women play this game and love it. We’ve had most of our top winners, many of our top winners are females. And not that they’re not sports fans, but if you look at the typical fantasy platform, it’s 85% male. So it does work with other sports. We already have a hockey version built. We’re working on a NASCAR version. We have a version for soccer that’s got international applications. And it’s the same every game, three, two, one. Three predictions, two questions, and then you get your first square. And the key, Ryan, we didn’t talk about this, the questions, the game show element, are questions about the advertisements that are in the app.

Ryan Knuppel: [crosstalk 00:10:23].

Frank Maggio: So when you log in, if you’ll play on Friday, we’ll have this Sunday’s games open Friday, log in, three predictions. It’s always the same for football, live football, a final score, the receiver with the most yards and the team that they’re from, and then total yards. Those are the three predictions. They’re easy. They’re consistent. You can do your homework. And then, before and after the predictions, there are commercials from our brands, our sponsors. When that’s done, you answer two questions about those commercials to see if you were paying attention, and that adrenalizes the ad experience. And that’s what we offer brands, we offer ad experiences.

Ryan Knuppel: Cool. Very cool. So I think as of recent, I remember back in December, I think, seeing some announcement of some sort of a big prize pool. This is one question I have, because when I think of fantasy sports, when I think of betting and squares, I’m thinking, “Man, can I win some money as well on top of this?” So I saw a big prize pool. I mean, I think it was $2.4 million prize pool that you guys had offered. Tell me about how that works and how that fits in. I guess coming up to the Super Bowl, I’m assuming you guys have some big stuff coming up here for the Super Bowl. Talk a little bit about that.

Frank Maggio: Sure. Our prize pool is $2.4 million. It has been since the week 13, that’s been the tournament that we’re on right now. The largest segment of that is what we call the Perfect Game Jackpot. We work with SCA Promotions. They’re the largest insurer, and they post annuities tied to contests. And we work with them that if anybody gets a perfect game in Super Squares, meaning three perfect predictions and four perfect squares, you win a million dollars and so does your buddy.

Frank Maggio: And this is the really viral aspect of the way our system works. Unlike other, like there is a new, there’s a company that’s got a squares game out there right now that’s spending tens of millions of dollars, collect data about their players, that’s offering a prize, our prize pool is designed to reward you for telling your friends about it, but not giving you an advantage over your friends. For example, this other, and similar with HQ, remember the HQ trivia game on your phone?

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, yeah. For sure.

Frank Maggio: HQ used to give you a free life if you recruited a friend. What does that mean? Well, that means once you’re playing against your friend, I get two chances and my friend only gets one. That’s patently unfair. Our model is tell your friends to play and the benefit by referring it, they become your friend and you’re their buddy, when your friend wins, you win the same exact prize.

Ryan Knuppel: Wow.

Frank Maggio: So if you got 10 friends playing, you’ve got 10 people on your football team.

Ryan Knuppel: Multiply your chances, right, yeah.

Frank Maggio: Exactly. Exactly. So that’s the difference. So when I go back to our jackpot, if you get a perfect game, you win a million dollars. If you have a buddy, so does he or she.

Ryan Knuppel: Cool. Very cool.

Frank Maggio: So that’s the key. And then on the bigger game, which is on February the seventh, the highest score in the country will win an $80,000 Rivian electric adventure vehicle, something no one has ever won before. It’s literally my Rivian that I bought on order. I’ve paid for my deposit. I’ve ordered, I spec-ed it out. And I thought, “What can I give fans that they can’t get anywhere else?” And it’s like my truck, my electric truck. So somebody’s going to win that. And it’s going to be a heartbreaking day to give the keys over, but I want people to get that excitement about winning.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s the sacrifice you make in business, right?

Frank Maggio: It is, brother. It is, absolutely.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s really cool to hear.

Matt Birk: [crosstalk 00:14:02]. Ryan, if I could just add, really, when you think, okay, Super Squares is a free to play game. So you think, “Well, what’s the hook? Is it data? Are you going to spam me with four emails a day for the next two years? Are you going to try to… ” Frank has thought about this for a long time, and what really made me want to put everything else down that I was working on and come work for him, is Frank has figured out that attention is actually more valuable than money. And if people are just willing to pay attention for two minutes before kickoff and watch these two ads, the brands, these companies get what they want, which is people’s attention. We get players. It’s kind of this virtuous environment where, to use Frank’s language, people aren’t tracked and targeted and ambushed, but they’re actually respected, protected, and rewarded.

Matt Birk: And we don’t sell anybody’s data. And they will willingly enter this game with the opportunity to win crazy big prizes and have a lot of fun. All we ask is that you watch these two ads, rate them, let the brands know if they’re good ads or not, and then answer the question to prove that you paid attention, and that’s it. And it really is one of these situations where it’s totally transparent and everybody gets what they want or what they need. And it’s really well thought through. And at the end of the day, it’s just a better way, it’s a better way to advertise, right?

Ryan Knuppel: [crosstalk 00:15:33].

Matt Birk: None of us have ever said, “Oh, boy, here comes a commercial.”

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, “Let’s watch.”

Matt Birk: When you get that pop up ad, “Oh, good, it’s a pop up.” You’ve never said that, but I’m telling you in our game, you actually get excited to watch the commercials. And then you actually remember them because you’re in this adrenalized state. I’ve experienced it. And using this nostalgic game that everybody knows about, it’s incredible.

Matt Birk: I would tell all the guys this, this is what sold me. My wife is not a football fan. She has had to watch more football throughout her life than she ever wanted to. But when we sit on the couch, and it might be the Texans against the Jaguars, and she wants to watch something, “No, no, let’s play Super Squares,” and she gets into the game. So now what I get out of it is I get my wife sitting on the couch with me watching football, not nagging me to change the channel. That’s the biggest win there is for me, Ryan.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s cool. That’s cool. Well, you guys clearly have a product here that is needed and wanted, and I’m excited for everybody listening to get out there and play. How can people play, though? I mean, do they download an app? How do they get to it? Where do they find it? How do they get started with you guys?

Frank Maggio: Go to supersquares.com and just choose your platform, Apple or Android. We have a wagering version under development. We think it will be ready for next fall, where instead of the advertising component, it’s just pure what we call predictor squares, prediction and squares combined.

Frank Maggio: Also, to share with you, Ryan, one of the nuances of the game, so there is ad tech inside of our IP, but there’s also really good gamification. Think about the squares. Think about win/lose games like Monopoly. One winner, everybody else loses, musical chairs. It’s this cutthroat, it’s binary. You’re either up or you’re down. Prop bets, you’re either right or you’re wrong. Fantasy, you either get the points or you don’t.

Frank Maggio: I thought it would be a better thing to do if I could make prediction and squares, give you rewards for being close. Like in the squares game, on the normal squares game, there’s a hundred boxes or a hundred squares, there’s one winner at the quarter and 99 losers. In our game, if you get one of the scores right, not just both, you get points. If you get them both right, you get more points. If you get close to the predictions, you get points. The closer you get, the more points. And at the end of the game, the winner isn’t the guy that got lucky and just happened to have the random square. It’s the guy that got great squares, paid attention, and did really great on their predictions. So it’s a great game. And it’s one people, I believe, are going to wager on. But for right now, our free to play version, your payment is attention.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, yeah. Very cool. Very cool. So off topic, before we get off here, I know you guys are busy and have a lot going on with business, but off topic, who do you have in the Super Bowl? Who’s going? Who’s going to win? It’s right here. I mean, I’m in Orlando, Florida, so it’s right here down the road in Tampa. I’m excited for it this year, as I always am. But who do you guys have? Any predictions on that side of things?

Matt Birk: Well, just so you know, the headquarters is in Tampa, so you know who Frank’s picking.

Ryan Knuppel: Oh.

Matt Birk: Obviously, I was all aboard the Baltimore Ravens and the Lamar Jackson train, so I’m still in a little bit of depression.

Ryan Knuppel: Sure.

Matt Birk: But hard to go against Patrick Mahomes, and I think Aaron Rogers playing at home at Lambeau Field, but I’m really excited, just as a fan, about the Buffalo Bills and kind of hoping that they can pull out what I think would be a pretty miraculous win at Arrowhead on Sunday.

Ryan Knuppel: I’m with you on that. I’ve found myself becoming a closet Bills fan this year. I’ve been gravitating towards them. And the more I watch them, the more I follow them, I’m like, “Man, I just like this team. It’s just a fun team to watch,” and I hope they can do it as well. Although, I like the Chiefs, and I actually like all four teams that are in it this year. I think it’ll be good no matter what happens. So Frank, I’m assuming you’re cheering for those Bucs?

Frank Maggio: So let me tell you the quick story. So that year, 1985, when I won that scratch game, one of the prizes was I could either take cash or I could get Super Bowl tickets. And I was a Giants, Patriots fan. I’m from Rhode Island. And so, when I was really young, the Patriots were nothing, so I was a Giants fan, then I became a Patriots fan. And then ’85 was the Patriots and Bears. So I’m 23 years old, and I want to go to the Super Bowl, and they canceled the contest on me. I didn’t tell you this. When I turned in $21 million worth of tickets, including eight seats to the Super Bowl, they canceled the contest. So I didn’t get to go see the Patriots play. So I’m a Patriots, Giants fan.

 

Frank Maggio: Fast forward to Super Bowl 25. It’s in Tampa, and I happen to be there with my dad. And I watch in Tampa, the Giants beat Buffalo in Tampa, which is the first of four Buffalo Super Bowl losses. So fast forward today, I’m still a Patriots fan kind of, but now I got Tom Brady in Tampa playing in Tampa against the Bills where they’d lost their first of four Super Bowl games. To me, that’s an epic story waiting to happen.

Ryan Knuppel: Sure is. That’s incredible. It sure is. You just got all… You’re full of stories. Matt, you were right, man. Frank has the stories to go with him. That’s amazing. I’m so pleased that you guys came on here and talked. Hey, any last words for the visitors or the people listening to this? Where can they get ahold of you guys? Can they get ahold of you guys? Any last words you guys would like to say before we jump off here?

Frank Maggio: I’d say one big announcement coming, Mike Golic is joining our team. And next week, you’re going to start hearing Mike talk about Super Squares having the world’s largest virtual Super Bowl squares party. He’s going to invite you to play against him for the Super Bowl squares game that we have on the bigger game. And we’re also looking, we want to become the subject matter experts for all things squares. So we’re looking to find the oldest surviving Super Bowl squares game in the world. So we’re asking everybody that’s ever played a squares game, check out your drawers, look in your offices, who has the oldest squares game? And we will pay $5,500 for the oldest squares game.

Ryan Knuppel: Cool.

Frank Maggio: So not only do we want your listeners getting our app and playing, but the message for this year is put away the paper. You can play Super Squares against your friends. We have a technology that you can create your own sky box and play squares against your friends without having to use paper. So get rid of the paper, it’s time to go from paper to Super Squares. Find that oldest one. Mike’s going to announce how you can snap your pictures and post it to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. And then, we’re going to have it certified. But who has the oldest paper squares game in the world is going to find themselves having something worth a lot of money.

Matt Birk: And if you want to hear more stories from Frank or myself or other guys on our team, we actually have a Twitch show as well, watch parties on Twitch, supersquares.tv. You can check us out there where we’ve got a great, really fun, great community that we’ve been hanging with all year. Frank’s on the show. I come on the show. Jonathan Blevins, he’s our host. It’s a ton of fun. So if you want to communicate, if you want to hear Frank tell more stories or me telling football stories or whatever, join our Twitch channel.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing, guys. And Frank, I actually have a small story that kind of correlates here. So Mike Golic, back probably five, 10 years ago, I personally won a Buffalo Wild Wings Pick ‘Em contest.

Frank Maggio: Wow.

Ryan Knuppel: So this was like the nationwide Pick ‘Em contest where I won. I didn’t even know I was competing in it. I’m just going to the place, and I’m picking my winners each week. And all of a sudden, they’re like, “Hey, you won a all-inclusive trip to the Rose Bowl Stadium to play in a flag football game with Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders. And Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg are going to be the coaches.” So I got to go out there and hang out. And Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic were our coaches. And I’m running around the Rose Bowl Stadium playing flag football with Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. And it was an amazing time and a cool story as well. But when you said Mike Golic and has to do with contests, I’m like, “He’s always involved with contests, I guess,” so that’s really cool.

Frank Maggio: That’s a cool story, right? That’s cool.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, yeah, it was a neat memory. So anyway, guys, I really appreciate you being here. Listeners, thank you so much. I think this is an amazing app. I hope you guys all check it out and play during Super Bowl, play every game whenever you can. Get out there for some hockey games once that comes up, so that will be amazing. But Matt, Frank-

Frank Maggio: So Ryan, before-

Ryan Knuppel: Thank you guys.

Frank Maggio: Before we go, real quickly, you should get the app, and you should create a screen name. I can do it for you, but all your listeners are to put your name down when they sign up.

Ryan Knuppel: There you go.

Frank Maggio: So that they become your friends and you’re their buddy and whatever your listeners win, you win the same prize. So you should-

Ryan Knuppel: I mean, that’s just good advice all around. I mean, everybody listening. I mean, you need to, once you get in, start spreading the word, getting other friends out there, and doing things like that. That’s great advice. So Frank, really appreciate you. Matt, thank you for being here. It’s an honor talking to a Super Bowl champion, an ex-NFL player, so thank you for being on the show. I really appreciate both you guys.

Matt Birk: Our pleasure, Ryan, thanks. All right.

Ryan Knuppel: Take care. All you listeners, thank you. Stay safe out there. And we will be back for another one. Thanks again, Matt and Frank. Have a great day. Bye-bye everyone.

Frank Maggio: Take care, guys.

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