Q&A with Nigel Eccles, CEO and co-founder of FanDuel
Posted on April 16th, 2012 07:03 AM

How did the idea for FanDuel come about? Walk me through the thought process of creating a DFS juggernaut.

In 2008 we launched our first game called Hubdub. It was a news prediction game where you predicted the outcome of news stories for play money. The game attracted lots of users (and press coverage) but it was hard to turn it into a business. So at the start of 2009 we turned our ideas to launching a second game in the paid for fantasy sports market.

From March 2009 through to September of that year, we iterated through about three different variants of what was to finally become the FanDuel you would recognize today. There is photo on the site where you can see the team brainstorming at the SXSW conference in Austin in March of that year. While the game dynamic varied, the idea was always we could knock the excitement of fantasy sports up a level by making it a much faster game.

Give me some of the advantages of DFS over traditional, season-long fantasy games.

I think there are a number of advantages:

 - No season long commitment - that is a big one. Now, you can play almost every week of the baseball season but still go on vacation.

 - Fast guaranteed payouts - play today, win today. I know a lot of players who wait months or longer for their prize money. With daily you get it the very next day

 - Variety of contests - head to head, five, ten, 20 or 1,000 player. Winner takes all, top three or double up. $1 entry to $500 entry. Multi-level tournaments with huge prizes ($100,000 to the winner of this year's Daily Fantasy Baseball Championship) and live finals in Las Vegas.

How important is the "instant reward" aspect of DFS -- that players see cash in their accounts right after a win?

I think player motivation varies by player. That is a factor for a lot of players but other players would list the competitive aspect, research, live scoring, community or other factors as the main draws of the game.

You once called DFS "fantasy for the ADD generation." Can you explain that further?

The average age of the traditional fantasy sports player is early 40's. The reason for that is that they started playing 15 years ago and are still playing. However, 15 years ago fantasy didn't really have that much competition. Today, there are mobile games, social games and online poker, all of which offer much more immediate gratification. We think taking fantasy daily makes it much more compelling to younger players (say in their 20's) and our user demographics show that to be true.

How does DFS complement traditional fantasy sports, rather than acting as direct competition?

Our research shows that for football, daily fantasy is complementary. People just aren't quitting their fantasy football leagues. However, for baseball and basketball it is more substitutional. We are noting a lot of players who are cutting back in season long fantasy baseball leagues or giving up on them so they can focus on the daily game. We also notice a lot of users that used to play season long fantasy baseball coming back into it to play the daily game.

Can you recall some really noteworthy payouts over the years on FanDuel, or highly successful players?

Our two big tournaments, the Daily Fantasy Baseball Championship (DFBC) and the Fanduel Fantasy Football Championship (FFFC), have provided us with the most noteworthy winners. Generalv won the FFFC 2011 and is a big player on FanDuel. Then in 2012, beermakersfan followed up his final appearance in the 2011 FFFC by winning the 2012 final.

What are some of the challenges facing DFS' growth?

I think daily fantasy is going to grow very rapidly over the next couple of years. One thing that I think will benefit its growth is a growing acceptance within the fantasy community that daily fantasy is a legitimate form of fantasy sports. I think initially, there was a perception that it was an unwelcome development. I think that is changing. One great development is seeing the NFL embracing daily fantasy by launching their Perfect Challenge game. We are looking forwards to seeing them promoting that next season.

Where do you see DFS headed in the near future? What's the next frontier or innovation for DFS?

Definitely more players and bigger prize pools. However, I think you will also see a lot exciting innovations like in mobile, social and different game formats.

Can you share some of your favorite DFS experiences?

The FFFC finals in Las Vegas are hard to beat. Twelve of the best fantasy football players in the country, Las Vegas's premier sportsbook, complimentary food and drinks all day and $250,000 in prizes. That is a really big event.

David Golebiewski reUP Sports Profile