Many Robins School of Business graduates have hopes of turning passions and hobbies into careers. David Shack and Andrew Vassallo are doing just that. Both 2010 University of Richmond graduates, Shack and Vassallo describe themselves as “college roommates, best friends and rabid sports fans.” To that list they have now added business partners and co-founders of Spogo, Inc., an organization which recently launched a mobile app that allows users to predict the outcomes of plays while they watch live games.

At first, neither Shack nor Vassallo knew they would study business at Richmond, but after a few classes at the Robins School of Business, Vassallo declared a finance and entrepreneurship concentration, while Shack concentrated on marketing and entrepreneurship. Shack credits Professor Roger Schnorbus with helping him recognize his passion for entrepreneurship. “Through one of his courses, I was able to learn how a business evolves from startup to expansion. That course helped shape and guide my hopes of one day doing what I am now,” he said.

“I enjoy each time I tell others David and I were four-year roommates at Richmond and graduates from the Robins School of Business. It was a great place to learn and provided me with the opportunity to learn the entrepreneurial process and how to pitch and put together presentations on my ideas,” Vassallo said.

The two kept in touch after graduation (Vassallo in New York City with Cowen & Company, a mid-market investment bank, and Shack in Boston with Arnold Worldwide, an advertising agency), continuing to bond over their love of sports and interest in the evolving business landscape. “We would talk a lot about the growing use of mobile phones as a second screen while users watched TV,” Vassallo said. “As huge sports fans, we know there is a lot of downtime between plays and during timeouts and reviews. People jump on their phones during these periods,” Shack added. “We took that insight and turned it into something that is a marketable business.”

After much deliberation, both Shack and Vassallo left their companies to found their own venture, Spogo. “There is always risk involved with making a career change, but we decided if we didn’t make the leap now, there might not be another chance,” Vassallo said.

One key challenge the founders of Spogo have faced is understanding the technology side of the business. “We have never built an application or worked at a technology company, so we had to quickly learn how to find the right people to work with and build our vision,” Vassallo said. “It is a learning process to hire and manage compatible business partners. We are learning a lot as we go.”

Having founded Spogo in May of 2012, Spogo has already made great strides. “One of our most rewarding achievements has been Apple’s approval to go live with our application on the App Store. Spogo went from something that we just tested on our personal phones to a reality where others could download it,” Shack said. “To go in a sports bar and see fliers, table tents and coasters advertising our application and watching fans win free nachos or other prizes because of our efforts is so rewarding.”

Because the company is still young, Shack and Vassallo are constantly exploring new ways to expand. Spogo is currently available in New York City and Boston, partnering with more than 50 major sports bars, but the founders have hopes of taking their business nationwide.

Shack and Vassallo’s immediate plans are to perfect Spogo’s local model and establish an engaged and growing user base to eventually partner with national chains, professional sports stadiums and national brands. “It’s hard to say where we will be in the future, but I can say with confidence that I want to be in the startup world as long as I can,” Vassallo said. “David and I are lucky to have a lot of overlap in our hobbies and professional endeavors, and we are excited for the future of Spogo.”