Comeback Kid

When It Rains, It Pours

But FSPI's reversal of fortune wasn't over yet. A month later, Hughes was approached by Alameda, California, software publisher MicroProse Inc. The resulting licensing deal added $400,000 to the pot in a two-year agreement to bundle FSPI's product with MicroProse's Ultimate Football games.

The sudden wave of success brought Time Warner Inc. knocking, but Hughes turned down its purchase offer of $1 million because, he says, "That's when we really knew that our [patented technology] was valuable and would be even more valuable down the road." Fox Sports stepped onto FSPI's playing field that fall, allowing FSPI to develop an endorsement relationship with football legend Terry Bradshaw and rechristen the product "Terry Bradshaw Fantasy Football."

The following year, the Hugheses were able to expand product development and finance more celebrity deals, aided by the sale of 29 percent of the company to private investors for $1.56 million. Endorsements from Cal Ripken Jr. and Grant Hill for FSPI's baseball and basketball software quickly followed. Says Hughes, "The celebrity endorsements brought the awareness that we needed to get to the next level."

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Comeback Kid.

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