Show Notes from Knup Sports Show

Show #104 – Adam Wexler of Prize Picks Joins the Show to Discuss Single Player Daily Fantasy Sports

CEO of Prize Picks, Adam Wexler, joins Ryan on the Knup Show. He discusses his entrepreneurial journey and how the fantasy experience is changing for customers.

CEO of Prize Picks, Adam Wexler, joins Ryan on the Knup Show. He discusses his entrepreneurial journey and how the fantasy experience is changing for customers.


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Show notes from Adam Wexler 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 show. Thank you so much for giving us a little bit of your time as you do each time. Today we have another special guest, we have Adam Wexler, the CEO of Prize Picks. Adam, thanks for being here with me.

Adam Wexler: Thanks for having me, Ryan

Ryan Knuppel: Absolutely. My pleasure. I know Adam, we’ve met a couple times at conferences and I’ve always loved your story and loved what you’re doing with Prize Picks and other things that you’ve been in in the gaming space. So why don’t you tell the audience before we get started a little bit about yourself and I guess, your career path to lead up to where you’re at with Prize Picks today.

Adam Wexler: Sure. So, I’ve been a technology entrepreneur for over 15 years. This is, I describe fantasy sports is kind of my third chapter. So, my first was also in B2C, music discovery. As any good entrepreneur, that one failed but ultimately the experience, the marketing that we were doing that led into a productizing our marketing effort, it became a social media marketing company called Insight Pool. That company is now a part of Cision, which many people will know about from any press releases that they ever read. And then, five, six years ago, got into fantasy sports. What got me in was the original premise. Yeah, I’ve been in season long fantasy leagues for a couple decades. And I would always notice that the most thankless job in the world was being the fantasy league commissioner. So, as a technology entrepreneur, I thought, man, you know, you spot a problem like that, let’s go make a software solution for that. And so that’s what got us in, and that exposed us to a number of other things. And real quickly, we pivoted that first product into the second product, which became Side Prize, which was just simply facilitating side bets in fantasy leagues. And that product went on to win multiple awards in the industry including Rookie of the Year. We got selected for the LA Dodgers accelerator program, we went out to LA back in Fall 2015. And this was the fall where we were on top of the world and we were the little darling of the industry, right as Vandal Jackets were raising hundreds of millions of dollars, and we were getting ready to scale up. And that industry went from being on cloud nine to literally the thing that I like to reference, as Jason Robbins was on the cover of, I believe it was Forbes in September, and then he was on Outside the Lines in October. Yeah, and then the day of our demo day in front of 1000 people at Chavez Ravine at Dodger Stadium, we’re getting ready to say, hey, we’re raising seven figures ready to scale this thing up. And that was the same day that the New York Attorney General said this is all illegal gambling. And so, we were skipping down. But fast forward a couple years and you could argue that as tough as it was, it was a blessing in disguise because ultimately, Side Prize was a bit of a flawed product. And the premise for Side Prize was simply, I’d want to bet you, but oftentimes you wouldn’t want to bet me, and having to have a double-sided transaction was a bit of the sticking point there. And so eventually, as I saw these state laws getting drawn up, I realized that there’s nothing really in these state laws that are specifying that fantasy sports, real money contests need to be peer to peer, need to be multiplayer.

And it just so happened that there were a couple companies playing in the space, but nobody had really done anything at meaningful scale. And so, that fall 2017 after the New York, or after the Supreme Court said they’re going to take up the New Jersey sports betting case, I said, I know what I want to do, it’s single player fantasy. Now I just got to figure out what’s my favorite format, what’s the ideal format from a consumer standpoint, but also from a business model standpoint. So, we tested two main formats, and basically settled on what would eventually become Prize Picks in fall 2017.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. I love that story. Absolutely love it, especially as a fellow entrepreneur, I think you had a lot of points in there just throughout your career. You know, one of the main things that stands out to me is just the ability to, one, call it a loss when it’s a loss and move on and to be able to take those losses and grow and grow and grow to finally come to your wins. I mean, I think that’s such an important, let alone anything we’re doing now, just from an entrepreneurial startup mindset game, I think that’s such an important quality to have. And obviously you had that going from thing to thing and then just the ability to just pivot and change and do things like that is so key. So, I give you props for being able to because it you know, entrepreneurships not easy, right? I mean, there’s always going to be those setbacks and those things that hit you hard, and just what you do with that really defines you.

Adam Wexler: It may not be easy, but it can always be fun, in my opinion.

Ryan Knuppel: Good point, good point too. We can always, if you have that right mindset that it’s fun. That’s good. So, now we’re on to Prize Picks. Give us a little bit about Prize Picks. What sets you apart from, you mentioned a couple others in this space that were dabbling in this space. What sets you guys apart as one of the leaders in this space?

Adam Wexler: Yeah, obviously, one of the fastest growing real money operators, we’re the, to me, the future of daily fantasy in the in the 2020s is going to be single player fantasy. And there’s a number of different formats that can be, you know, had in that in that realm, in that category. And we believe that the subcategory of daily fantasy, single player over/unders, over/under predictions, is the best category, is the most mainstream appealing category, and the biggest category. So yeah, so we’re all in on that one particular game, and there’s others in our space that do multiple games, single player, but we’re all in on that one game, and the results thus far have been pretty promising. Look, I’d encourage anybody to go read our reviews in the app stores, go online, play the game. I mean, we want you in and out of the app in less than a minute. And you can, let’s say it’s fantasy football season, you got your season long league, you’re doing your roster management. I mean, that’s what this game, this prediction game was rooted in was that, I know that Patrick Mahomes is going to go off this week. So, the question on Prize Picks becomes, is he going to go over or under the 25-point fantasy point projection. And what’s great though, is that we’ve been able to kind of translate that line of thinking to all these different sports. And I believe it’s fair to say these days, especially after COVID, we’ve got the widest breath of markets that anybody has ever offered in fantasy sports. So, I mean, we did everything from, we partnered with the American Cornhole League during the middle of the pandemic, who had a nice run on ESPN.

Ryan Knuppel: Love it, yeah.

Adam Wexler: To the Outlaw Tour, who also got a lot of attention because they were the only golf tour going all the way through. And then we even rolled out Korean baseball and Chinese basketball, just to keep our customers happy. So, all of a sudden, you know, in the grand scheme of things, it’s great that we have that kind of experience and that that nimbleness and so I think we’ve set us up set ourselves up for success.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, sounds like it and let’s expand a little bit on where we’re at currently right now, the time of recording this is right in the middle of the COVID pandemic, but we’re starting to get sports back, right? And our sports, we’re so trained as sports fans to what a season should look like. Baseball should be these months, basketball should be these months, football should be these months. Now we’re getting it all, it’s all coming back at the same time, which really messes with the mind. And I’m sure messes with apps and, Prize Picks in general. Tell me a little bit about how you guys have responded to that and what you’re seeing from sports like baseball, basketball, and hockey and all that going on now.

Adam Wexler: Yeah, I’ll give you one stat that we’re happy to discuss, which is, basically our average spend, which was already probably higher than anybody in the fantasy industry on a nightly basis, and maybe monthly basis for that matter. It’s gone up even further, naturally in this environment where nobody can attend the games, that money that would have gone to the games, largely stuck at home. And then best of all these games are all day long. So instead of having your typical two slates a night, you’ve got five or six slates. So, for any sports fan, anybody who loves to play fantasy sports or even bet on sports, like this is a kind of a dream situation and in our case. Yeah, our average daily spend is up over 25%, it might be about a third in this environment. And our game is perfect in the sense that we create a lot of winners, we can create a lot of wins, unlike you know, DFS salary cap, you don’t win very often but with our game, you’re winning a good bit of the time. And so, a lot of people just like to roll that one win into another entry and for that reason. Our goal as a company is to be the ideal complement to your sports viewing experience. And it goes just beyond just the game. We do real time customer support for our VIPs. We’ll treat you pretty special and make sure that we’re showering you with gifts and rewards and promotions and stuff like that. So, it’s not just about the game but we also think our product speaks for itself as well.

Ryan Knuppel: I love that. That’s amazing. That’s awesome. So, what about between the sports though? I mean, are you seeing, you know, baseball ahead of basketball? Are you seeing a lot of basketball action? What are you really seeing the action come in on currently and what are people interested in your guys eyes?

Adam Wexler: Yeah, I truly believe we’ve got the best fantasy basketball on the market. It’s something that, in my mind, I’m on the board of directors for the Fantasy Sports Gaming Association. I’ve co-chaired some committees, I’ve chaired a conference or two. So, I’ve been immersed in the industry for a long time. I’ve always found it crazy that that literally, fantasy basketball never really grew too much popularity with season long. And then with daily fantasy and salary cap specifically, it was solid, but, outside of the I think it’s the showdown format where it’s, centered around one game. I never really thought salary cap had much mainstream appeal. So, there’s been a huge void for fantasy basketball fans. And obviously we all know the NBA has just grown astronomically over the last year, quarter century. And yet the fantasy layer on top has not grown with it and then comes along Prize Picks. Where all you’re doing is making those over under predictions. Our game is so fun from a fantasy basketball perspective. Not only do we do full game prediction, but we do first half and second half predictions. And, I mean, it’s such a sweat. And if we get the numbers right, if we get the projections right, I mean, you’re going to be in it to the last minute, for the most part, and best of all, every possession matters. So, unlike some of the other sports that we offer, you can rack up points from points, rebounds, assists, and then on defense steals, blocks, just across the board. So, it’s, it’s super engaging, and obviously with the live scoring component to keep alive to follow along with that.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s awesome. That’s amazing. And, and now as we’re getting closer and closer to football season, which is obviously been the biggest driver of fantasy sports over the years, I mean, everybody loves to play their fantasy football. We’re starting to hear rumbles of college football potentially being on the rocks. What do you think is going to happen with the NFL. Let’s go to the NFL in specific we haven’t really heard a lot from that league and what’s going on. Do you have any just personal thoughts? Are we going to have a season, one? And two, what are the changes going to be? What’s it going to feel like? You know, if we can’t have fans and things like that, is it going to be the same game for us all to all enjoy?

Adam Wexler: Yeah, I mean, hey, I don’t think there’s going to be many fans in the stands. I think we’re kind of at that point right now, where we’re hoping that the game is played. In the NFL, there’s enough factors in play where the games are going to get played, some people want to say the season may not be completed. I’m not going to make a private prognostication like that. But what I will say is that, I think this year is as good as ever to really harp on the pros of daily fantasy versus season long fantasy. And the two can work to play together. You know, like our game, we love to think that our game is the perfect complement, but also, if certain games go away and your players aren’t playing or they come down with coronavirus this fall, it’s going to be really frustrating as a season long fantasy league participant when your quarterback goes out and you’re stuck with the backup quarterback for the Falcons. I mean, it’s going to be a bit messy. But with our game, what’s great is it’s all about the star. So, we’re going to put up the biggest stars that we can. And so, fantasy sports in general is all about the players and, that’s just another reason why we think that our game, being very, very visual in nature really stands out with basketball. I mean, everybody knows LeBron James, James Harden, etc. It’s a little harder to recognize some of these guys behind the helmets and football, but not to really take away from our football product, because once again, our game was originated as a kind of add on to your season long fantasy league experience.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, it’s going to be interesting where this season goes and how it goes. But I think you make a great point there, that the era that we’re in right now really tends to lean towards the daily game in the more, short form to fantasy games than the long season one. Because yeah, I can really crush you if, I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan in baseball and they’re just killing my morale with not being able to play for a whole week. So, you imagine you have three or four of those guys on your team. And how does that even work in a season long format? And so, when you’re playing daily, you can kind of adjust to that and play. And Prize Picks, again, you can adjust to the day to day stuff and really think about it a little differently. So, I think you make a great point there. It kind of fits the culture in the era that we’re in here with COVID going on.

Adam Wexler: Yeah, look, I think the DFS to date has been largely known as synonymous with one format. And that’s been quite unfortunate. There was there was a great a company called Draft that was Flutters original purchase in the US, and then they said, hey, this was good enough for us that we wanted to go even bigger and bought FanDuel. And then unfortunately they sunset Draft. But you know, there’s a lot of people out there that love the concept of daily fantasy drafts. So, the notion of daily fantasy sports is something that unfortunately became synonymous with one format, and hopefully, as this next decade emerges, the consumers will realize that there’s going to be a lot more formats that are viable. In fact, daily drafts is a format that is coming back now. But we’d like to think that our format is we’re positioned really to take a lot of advantages of this next decade.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing, amazing. This is Adam Wexler, CEO of Prize Picks. Hey Adam, I know you don’t have a lot of time, you are a busy man. But couple last questions before we go. One, you mentioned the all of the new sports that you guys added in and the different things that you guys dabbled in during this time. What was the most surprising to you in terms of interest level that you’re like, maybe you guys were like, oh, this will never work, but let’s try it. And then you’re like, oh my god, there was actually a market for this. What was one of those sports that kind of stood out in your mind that surprised you?

Adam Wexler: Well, yeah, I mean, the first one is the NFL Draft. That three day stretch, more action in the Super Bowl for us. And people love the notion of prediction games for any sporting event. And I think we were, I believe, fantasy sports or sports betting, we were the only place you could go to make in draft predictions for real money. So that was cool that we stood out in that respect. But yeah, I mean, I would go as deep as to say, so similarly, like we put up the WNBA Draft and we had a lot of customers that bid at that. So, I mean we just got super creative. Obviously, eSports held us over a good bit in Q2 and that went from being a growth opportunity to be something we’re now offering 365. So, in that case, it’s exciting. We’ve never done customer acquisition centered around eSports, but we’re about to partner up with somebody and do some of that. So, we’re excited to see how that goes. And obviously, that’s a little more pandemic resistant than maybe football. But hey, we’ll be in a good spot no matter what. Cards were dealt and we’ll adjust accordingly.

Ryan Knuppel: When you have a good team, you have a good product, and you guys have a plan, yeah, you’re going to be in a good spot. I definitely trust that’s going to happen with Prize Picks. Hey, tell the audience, maybe some people have never tried Prize Picks or just now hearing of it now. Tell them one, how they can find you, how to get a hold of you guys how they can play. I’m sure it’s pretty obvious, but let’s go ahead and tell people where they can get to you.

Adam Wexler: Yeah, I would normally tell people go download the app, in both app stores. And please do read the reviews and see what people are saying about us. But we just recently released our version three of our web app, which is going to also make its way into the mobile apps very soon. And we’re pretty excited about that. So, go to, everybody’s first offer is a 25% deposit match. It’s just a simply a one x playthrough. And also, upon deposit, get a free entry to win 50 bucks, free two pick entry to win 50 bucks. So, we like to think that it’s a pretty generous offer out of the gates. And once you get in there, where we monitor everybody’s play behavior, we monitor wins and losses. And we like to think they we’re some of the most generous in the business when it comes to promotion. So, you’ll hopefully feel pretty special when you play on Prize Picks.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s right,, and I want to become one of those VIPs. I need to get out there and play a little more so I can get some cool stuff coming my way. That’s if I could win. I don’t know if I can win but I can certainly play. We’ll see.

Adam Wexler: Even if you lose, we got you covered.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome.

Adam Wexler: We’re trying to make this so that you don’t blow your whole wallet on one night. So, we want to make sure that you’re stretching that out and just enjoy the game.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s good. That’s amazing. One of the great guys in the industry, Adam Wexler Adam, thank you for being here. Really appreciate it. Any last words for the audience before we get off here?

Adam Wexler: No, I’m excited to see playoff basketball collide with football and everything else like everybody else. I guess one last thing that does come to mind is, hey, if college football moves into the spring is not a bad thing. That just means we get 9-10 months of solid football action. Definitely better than XFL and AAF, at least in my opinion.

Ryan Knuppel: So, yeah, good point. Good point. There’s always a silver lining and everything that happens, so I agree with you. I think spring football could be kind of fun. So, Adam, well, thank you for being here. Really appreciate it. Everybody. Check out Go out there, check it out, take advantage of their deposit bonuses and all of their offers that they have out there. I think you will not regret it. So, we’ll put the links also in the show notes. We’ll get everything out there along with this fabulous video of Adam and myself. So again, Adam, thank you for being here.

Adam Wexler: Appreciate you for having me.

Ryan Knuppel: Alright, thanks everybody for tuning in. Until next time, stay safe and we’ll talk to you all soon. Have a great day.

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