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Boca angel group invests in Miami-based fantasy sports game startup

Miami-based Synkt Games has a mobile app, letsRUMBL, designed to attract the nonprofessional player. They can choose to play against friends or random individuals in daily baseball and basketball games or weekly football games. The app has "tens of thousands" of users, said Synkt Games CEO Bryan Abboud.

Synkt's latest version of the app will launch through Apple's iTunes on Friday, in time for football season, he said.

An unusual investment for this Palm Beach County angel group? Not so, said Steve O'Hara, president of New World Angels, a 63-member group of investors who only finance companies that are based in or have a major tie to the state.

"We invest in small startup companies on the verge of exploding," O'Hara said. Those have traditionally included investments in consumer, medical and technology companies, not gaming or apps, and it has invested a total of $7.4 million since the angel group was founded in 2003.

O'Hara said he likes the app game because he's not an experienced player but enjoys competing with his son, who lives in Chicago.

But he likes the investment, $140,000, because of Abboud's gaming industry experience. Synkt Games has raised more than $1 million in total, according to CrunchBase, which tracks innovative companies and their funding.

Abboud, who also is a director at New World Angels, previously co-founded IGW Software, which provided software and tech support to the online gaming industry, and the Interactive Gaming Council, a trade association for the industry.

With letsRUMBL, Abboud said he wanted to create a game app that was more accessible to the casual player, designed to be easy to use and more affordable.

"If we play an event that's $2 each, we take 40 cents off the top and pay out the rest to the winner," he said.

Most daily fantasy sports games are over-run by "highly experienced" players, he said. However, spokeswomen for two of the most popular games, DraftKings and FanDuel — which claim 7 million and 6 million users, respectively — dispute this, saying only a small percentage of their users are so-called "pros."

New World Angels has been particularly active in 2016, with both add-on investments in portfolio companies and new investments including: Miami-based Kairos, a facial recognition software company; Newberry-based OBMedical, which has developed products to monitor fetal heart rate; and Gainesville-based Admiral, which has developed software to prevent ad blocking.

MARCIA HEROUX, Sun-Sentinel 

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