Show Notes from Knup Sports Show

Show #90 – Nic Sulsky of Monkey Knife Fight Talks His Career Path & Current Business Plans

On this show, the President of Monkey Knife Fight Nic Sulsky joins us to talk a bit about his career path in the iGaming space. He also gives some insight into how Monkey Knife Fight is poised to battle FanDuel and DraftKings for the TOP DFS spot.

On this show, the President of Monkey Knife Fight Nic Sulsky joins us to talk a bit about his career path in the iGaming space. He also gives some insight into how Monkey Knife Fight is poised to battle FanDuel and DraftKings for the TOP DFS spot.

Video from Nic Sulsky Interview

Show notes from Nic Sulsky 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 episode. Today I’m joined by a very special guest. I got Nic Sulsky with me. Nic is the President at Monkey Knife Fight. Nic, thank you for joining me.

Nic Sulsky: Ryan it’s a true pleasure, man. I’ve been a fan for a while, so it’s nice to join you live.

Ryan Knuppel: I appreciate that. I appreciate you tuning in and listening when you can as well. And just giving us a little bit of your time today to talk a little bit about fantasy sports and about, I guess, your path through this. I love to talk to people like yourself who, clearly looking at your track record, have been in the industry for quite some time and have a lot of experience in the iGaming space. I just want to pick your brain a little bit and hear a little bit about your story. So I do appreciate it for sure.

Nic Sulsky: No problem, man. If anyone’s listened or met me before, I’m happy to get to talk. I enjoy spreading the word. So yeah, let’s go.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, first things first, we’re sitting here in very different times right now. We have no sports going on. We are all shackled into our homes and not going out. How are you personally holding up through this COVID-19 pandemic?

Nic Sulsky: It’s literally the weirdest time that I’ve ever experienced, and probably most of us have ever experienced, right? I think that personally though, outside of the ridiculousness in the real world, my personal life, my family’s personal life, hasn’t really changed all that much to be completely candid. I mean, Monkey Knife Fight is a remote business. We’ve it built, over the last three years and change, completely remote, and my wife obviously has had to adapt to working from home. And my daughter, who is in grade six, unfortunately, is missing out on the end of her elementary school year. So there’s a little bit of this. So obviously, there’s a lot of disappointment there. But from a day to day perspective our lives are pretty normal.

Nic Sulsky: The biggest thing, and I know you can relate to this, is there’s no sports to turn on every night. Most people can find themselves working in the fantasy sports industry, most of them began because they just love sports. Right? I’ve been in the industry for a long time, as you mentioned, probably close to 15 years now, and you get into the space, not thinking about making a ton of money, you get into this space thinking about, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great to work in sports? Because I love sports.” Right? And try to navigate your pathway into it.

Nic Sulsky: So I think that the lack of sports is really… Personally, obviously from a business perspective, it’s had a significant impact, but from a personal perspective, missing live sports is kind of the biggest thing. Yeah, I miss hanging out with my friends and going out for a drink and this and that, but I’m lucky, I like my wife and I like my daughter. And I like wine.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s always a good thing. It’s always a good thing.

Nic Sulsky: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. And there’s no shortage of wine. So that’s a-

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, for sure, for sure. Well, definitely I think this has made us all in the sports industry, even though we all know we love sports, I know I love sports. I’ve been in sports forever as well, but I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated it more than I do right now. And I’m like, “Man, I really do love sports.” Because when it’s not here, it’s just like life is not complete. Something is just missing, and you can only watch reruns and old games so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old classic throwback games and some of that stuff, but you can only do so much of that before you crave that live, what’s going to happen next, type feeling.

Nic Sulsky: Totally. Dude, I’ve watched Jose, I live in Toronto, I’ve watched Jose Bautista’s back flip game against the Rangers probably four times. And the amount of times in the last two weeks we’ve been shown the Kawhi Leonard 76ers game seven, like, “Yeah, amazing,” but not quite as great as live sports.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. So you made an interesting comment there that kind of opened my… You said something about navigating your way through the sports’ industry as a career. And I think there’s a lot of college kids and kids these days, wanting to get into the sports industries in some way or another. And I just want to hear a little bit about how you navigated through, and maybe just touch on some of your experiences that you had in leading up to where you’re at currently. We’ll talk a little bit more about Monkey Knife Fight here in a bit, but how did you navigate through that piece by piece?

Nic Sulsky: Yeah, I think that’s… Really my journey is a bit different from, I think, a majority of the people in the fantasy sports space. A lot of people in fantasy sports are writers or are content people. I was never really a content person. I was an entrepreneur and I’ve been an entrepreneur pretty much my entire life. I started off, funny enough, I started off making kids’ television shows. I was producing, directing and hosting my own kids’ television shows up here in Canada. And there was a sports talk show called Off the Record, which was very, very popular up here. And as I’ve said on a number of podcasts, and you’ll probably hear me say this a few times on this show, I’m an if you don’t ask you, don’t get kind of guy. Right?

Nic Sulsky: If you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t get used to the word no, stop being an entrepreneur, because the vast majority of your life you’re going to hear that word. But you have to keep flogging, keep pushing your way through. And quite frankly, if you’re too scared to get that no and to ask for things, well, just stop. Honestly, you’re probably not going to succeed.

Nic Sulsky: While I was doing that kids’ TV show and there was this big sports talk show, and I love sports, and this show would have like B and C level celebrities on to talk about sports with athletes. And I just literally wrote an email to the producer of that show saying, “Hey, I’m on TV. I love sports. I could talk. What do you think?”

Nic Sulsky: So they actually let me do the show once. And I remember it was the day after the Blue Jays, like 1993, they had some kind of reunion of some of the players on the ’92 or ’93 team, and Candy Maldonado was on the show and he hadn’t slept and he was completely hammered. And this was my first live sports experience and here’s drunk Candy Maldonado. I’m like, “Wow, this is nowhere but down from here, man.” That show went well, and I started talking about sports on TV and then while on that show, and the producer of that show happened to be a big fantasy sports fan, and this was back in, I think, 2005, 2006.

Ryan Knuppel: Wow.

Nic Sulsky: And the producer and I just became friends, and I was a big seasoned fantasy guy. And there wasn’t a lot of fantasy content out there, like broadband online content or even let alone broadcast content, about fantasy sports. So we just got to talking and the two of us were able to convince the powers that be at a broadcast network in Canada called TSN, which is kind of the equivalent of ESPN up in Canada that, “Hey, why don’t we create a fantasy sports show, do it in the same studio with the same crew and just have a go?” And so they agreed and we did something called the Fantasy Hockey Report, which I believe was one of the first broadband fantasy shows out there.

Nic Sulsky: So I did that for a couple of years, and literally it was just… I wasn’t getting paid. It was just, let’s just go and have some fun. Let’s test this out. And then when I was doing that show, it got me really thinking about how fantasy and media and broadcast kind of really melded together.

Nic Sulsky: So I founded a startup years ago called Endgamer. And what we did was we built the first fantasy sports game that you can play in real time while you were watching a game on TV. So you could change your players during the game. Yeah. It was super-

Ryan Knuppel: Back then, that’s very cutting edge.

Nic Sulsky: It was very cutting edge. It was a free to play game. And quite frankly, we licensed it to some of the biggest… It was a licensing model. We licensed it to some of the biggest broadcasters up in Canada. Our partner was Hockey in Canada, which is actually the longest-running live sports television show ever in the world. We worked lots of deals. The problem was the business model at that point. And like I said, if you’re an entrepreneur you’re going to get used to failure.

Nic Sulsky: Well, ultimately the product, as you said, the product was a really strong idea. It was a great product, but because it was a free to play game, and this was just around the time when the FanDuels and DraftKings were starting, or not even DraftKings, it was DraftStreet at the time. And the idea of daily fantasy sports was really starting to pick up. The fact that we were out there doing a licensing model and not generating revenue direct from consumers, logically the product made sense from a media perspective, but if you’re familiar with media, as you are, in order for a media to justify spending money, which they would need to do to license our product, they needed to justify that spend by selling it to sponsors. Well, in order for sponsors to spend money, you need eyeballs. Well, if you’re a startup and you’re trying to integrate or launch a new product, there are no eyeballs.

Ryan Knuppel: No.

Nic Sulsky: So it’s like a vicious chicken and the egg game. And unless you’re a startup that has runway for two or three years of literally making zero money, so you can give your product to a media company from a licensing perspective, let them build up the market share without having to spend a lot of money, and then get a payday. Then it could work. But if you’re a startup, unless you have that runway, it’s not going to work. So one thing led to another at that startup, I ended up getting recruited into a regulated gaming company based out of the UK. And they were looking at trying to get into the North American TFS space, because they’d seen what was going on with FanDuel and DraftKings. So I joined that company and we architected a deal alongside a New York marketing company to acquire Draft Day. Draft Day, at the time was number three, number four-

Ryan Knuppel: Oh, I played a lot of Draft Day in the day.

Nic Sulsky: Yeah, Draft Day was great, man. So we acquired Draft Day, and the idea with Draft Day was, because it was co-owned by a regulated gaming entity, and this was 2014 2015, and FanDuel and DraftKings had really started exploding, but the regulated, like the casino operators and the regular gaming operators, couldn’t touch DFS at that point, because they didn’t want to jeopardize their gaming licenses. But they all wanted to tap into that sports span.

Ryan Knuppel: Sure.

Nic Sulsky: And so the idea was, “All right, let’s buy a platform. Let’s turn it into a B2B white label and then go to casinos and other regulated gaming operators, and offer them a shared liquidity marketing white label.” So they weren’t operating, so they weren’t jeopardizing their gaming licenses, but they could still generate user base. You know the story. It’s actually pretty funny, funny quote unquote. We closed the acquisition of Draft Day in September of 2015, and we had a bunch of really big casinos ready to work with us. And then, do you remember what happened in October of 2015?

Ryan Knuppel: Oh man, give me the… What was it?

Nic Sulsky: Well it was Ethan Haskell, right?

Ryan Knuppel: Oh yeah, yeah.

Nic Sulsky: Ethan [inaudible 00:11:15] the moment, right?

Ryan Knuppel: The big, big-

Nic Sulsky: It was the big event where the New York Attorney General ultimately deemed daily fantasy sports illegal sports betting. And so obviously that happened, and that really changed our business. And then it forced us, because obviously at that point all of the regular gaming operators stepped away from the table. So we had to pivot, once again if you’re an entrepreneur, you got to learn how to pivot, you got to learn how to change, because sometimes there are powers that be that won’t let you execute on the strategy that you’re building. And so started looking at international partnerships and did a couple of those, but then certainly looking at other databases and I was able to cross paths with a guy by the name of Bill Asher. Bill Asher at the time owned Vivid. Which is one of the biggest adult entertainment companies in the world.

Nic Sulsky: And Bill, internet marketing genius, serial entrepreneur, brilliant, genius guy, we started talking and collaborating, because the idea of the adult databases and the demographic and the daily fantasy sports demographics, they line up. Right? So we started talking and then we started realizing that we shared a very strong kind of idea about the industry. And one thing led to another. I know this is a long winded answer to your question, but that was my path. Right? Anyway, we started talking and in July 2017, almost three years ago now, I decided to leave Draft Day and then Bill and I partnered up and started on the path of building Monkey Knife Fight.

Nic Sulsky: And here we are now almost three years later, and Monkey Knife Fight was formally launched in September 2018, and now we’re number three. It’s been an exciting ride, man. Fantasy sports is an incredible industry. And now because of what’s going on with sports gambling and sports betting and how the legislation is rolling out, and how the whole landscape is starting to change and shift, and brands and media companies are starting to get excited about it. It’s a good time. It’s a good time to be in our industry.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s what I was going to say. It’s so amazing to me being in this space for so long, the timeframe and how things shift so quickly when you really look at it. Like that 2015 event that you mentioned, seems to me like a decade ago.

Nic Sulsky: Totally.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s just insane to me how that’s not that far long ago that that happened. And then where we are today, it’s just things happen so quickly in this industry. To your point, if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, if you’re going to try to run a business or be in any part of business, you have to be ready for change. You have to be willing to accept change, because it’s going to happen. It’s inevitable. And, man, you’ve come a long way. That’s a really cool story. I really love the path you had there, and a lot of those really touched home with me as well.

Ryan Knuppel: I was a Draft Day… I actually enjoyed Draft Day more than I loved FanDuel back in the day. It was just a cleaner interface. There was less people playing, right? It was just one of those good experiences to play at Draft Day, a little easier to win and things like that. So, that’s fun, that’s good stuff.

Ryan Knuppel: So fast forward to today. So you’re at Monkey Knife Fight. You guys started that up. You guys are clearly number three now. You’re fighting up there to be up with DraftKings and FanDuel. But you guys go about it a little differently at Monkey Knife Fight, I think. Give us a little picture of how it is working with Monkey Knife Fight and your user base. I feel like you guys are a little different than the other companies.

Nic Sulsky: Well, and that was the whole point. I alluded to the meeting of the minds of Bill Asher and myself. And Bill, who’s had incredible success, is a brand building genius. At the time when we started talking about this, there were a couple of very important perspectives that we shared. One was that the classic salary cap version of daily fantasy sports, that product was kind of broken. Right? We all know now that a vast majority of the money is won by a small percentage of the people. It’s a very hardcore experience. If you don’t have hours to spend and you don’t have the knowledge of every single team, every single player and every single match up, it’s very hard to compete against, let’s face it, the professional players, sharks, who are using math algorithms.

Nic Sulsky: So we are both massive sports fans, but there was a real problem with that traditional form of daily fantasy sports. And we both really wanted to try and figure out a way for that casual, passionate team fan, to engage with fantasy sports without necessarily having to spend hours and hours research, or be effectively pitted against those sharks. So we shared a perspective about where we thought a product innovation could really benefit the sports fan, the casual sports. We kind of wanted to bring the fan experience back into fantasy sports. It sounds a little cheesy, but that’s really where it began. And then the other thing that we both agreed on, was that there wasn’t really a brand, a culturally relevant brand, in gaming. Right?

Nic Sulsky: FanDuel and DraftKings have built incredible businesses. But you don’t see a lot of people walking around with DraftKing’s t-shirts or FanDuel t-shirts. Right? There’s something about… Or take sports gambling, there are some great brands out there, but they’re not cool, sexy, irreverent, fun. And Bill’s built some of the biggest brands that men love in the history of humanity. So that really appealed to me, to be able to work alongside someone who had that kind of expertise. What we really wanted to do was to create a platform that was a lot easier to pick up, that was more catered to the… I’ll give you an example. I did a little research, I know you’re a hardcore St. Louis Cardinals fan. So ultimately you would know that Harrison Bader is going to have a great game, because he’s on the road, he’s facing a pitcher that he’s had success with. You, as a St. Louis Cardinal fan, knows your team. But if you’re playing an inter-league game against the Blue Jays, you might not know about Cavan Biggio’s success against right-handed pitchers at home. If you’re playing in a classic daily fantasy sports contest, and you don’t know all of those little variances where to target, you’re not going to win, because there are people who know that.

Nic Sulsky: So what we wanted to do, was we wanted to create an experience for you, who loves Harrison Bader, who loves Paul DeJong, loves the idea of Carlos Martinez tonight. And you’re listening, you’re reading about the matchup tonight, and you know you’re playing the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s Brandon Woodruff on the mound and you have Avi Garcia, who’s batting second tonight all of a sudden.

Nic Sulsky: So now you can play a contest on Monkey Knife Fight, just focused on that one game. Just focused on those star players that you really love, or even those secondary players on your favorite team that you know about. You’re not forced into targeting, as a football example, the third wide receiver on the LA Rams.

Ryan Knuppel: Right.

Nic Sulsky: Honestly, right now, I don’t even know who the third wide receiver on the LA Rams is. But if you don’t, walking into a classic DFS game, you’re not going to win. So what Bill and I really wanted to do was to create a platform that really was easy to understand from a local passionate, casual team fan. We launched in September of 2018 and we were thinking about just building awareness for a year and then really leaning out or pushing our foot on the gas September of 2019 for the next couple of seasons.

Nic Sulsky: But December of 2018, January of 2019, the product started getting adopted and things just kind of took off. It’s been a pretty exciting ride.

Ryan Knuppel: So give us a little bit about the name. I mean, the name, the brand. I’m sure you’ve been asked this. I’m sure this question comes up a lot, but I’d love to hear it. Monkey Knife Fight, what’s the relevance? Was it just, “Hey, man, we’re sitting around over a beer. Oh, that’s a funny name.” Give me that story. What was that story on the name of the brand?

Nic Sulsky: It wasn’t beer. It was tequila.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, that’s okay.

Nic Sulsky: Let’s make that clear.

Ryan Knuppel: Beer would have been a way worse name, if you were just drinking beer. So, there you go.

Nic Sulsky: Exactly. Right? Obviously people ask that question all the time. Why Monkey Knife Fight? The simple answer is, exactly. Right? Monkey Knife Fight is something that you’re not going to forget. Right?

Ryan Knuppel: Yep.

Nic Sulsky: It is a Simpsons reference, Bill and I are both Simpsons fans. Bill told me a story years ago about how he… Bill owns a slew of bars and restaurants. And the way that he likes to name those bars and restaurants, is he would sit around with the manager or his partners at the bars and restaurants, they drink, and they just throw out these names. One night we did that and a bunch of names were thrown around, and Monkey Knife Fight happened to be the one that resonated the next day. But that being said, we were both a little intoxicated. And so the idea of Monkey Knife Fight when we woke up the next day was like, “You know, that’s pretty funny.” But we gave a bunch of names to our designer, who’s incredibly talented, and he came back with a bunch of different logos. And we saw the logo for Monkey Knife Fight, right there. And it was like, “Wow. All right. We’re Monkey Knife Fight.” But it’s something you can’t forget. Right?

Nic Sulsky: I mean, how many-

Ryan Knuppel: Oh, absolutely.

Nic Sulsky: Right? I mean, how many fantasies companies have the name draft or fan in it. Right?

Ryan Knuppel: It’s refreshing to see something that’s not so descriptive. Right? It is a true brand, like you said earlier.

Nic Sulsky: That’s part of our goal. Absolutely.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. And you guys have done a good job with that, for sure. Now I’ve been seeing news. I’ve been seeing you guys growing. I saw recently you guys had some kind of partnership or something with the Milwaukee Brewers, and you’re starting to get in with some of these teams. Tell us a little bit about, I guess, the growth that you expect when sports comes back. And as things get moving here, what’s some of the things we can see or expect to see out of Monkey Knife Fight?

Nic Sulsky: Well, Monkey Knife Fight, we’re poised to be extraordinarily aggressive and we are being extraordinarily aggressive right now. As we talked about, this entire sector is starting to blow up. DraftKings and FanDuel, have built incredible businesses. DraftKings went public a couple of weeks ago at $4 billion, and now their worth $8 billion. And they’re predominantly a fantasy sports company. Right?

Ryan Knuppel: Sure.

Nic Sulsky: They’re fixated on their future as a sports gambling operator, sports betting. But ultimately, this is a company that is now worth billions of dollars and they’re effectively a fantasy sports company. So Monkey Knife Fight, now being number three in the space, we have an unbelievable opportunity and we are planning on being very aggressive. As you alluded to, we became the official daily fantasy sports partner of the Milwaukee Brewers last week, officially. So exciting. And Milwaukee is a great team, a great franchise, incredible fans, a great ballpark, a really good team, great people, and we’re excited about the sports, the Wisconsin… Especially, we’re excited about obviously lots of sports fans, but that Wisconsin fan base is so passionate. There’s something about the Brewers that just kind of fit right with us.

Nic Sulsky: To be completely candid, Wisconsin is also a state that doesn’t have sports gambling right on the horizon. And we are fixated and focused on becoming the best daily fantasy sports business and product and brand in North America. Our plan is to continue to grow both our brand and our platform. We’re speaking to lots of different teams, leagues, organizations, about many different things, because our perspective is the sports gaming, and I’ll use sports gaming kind of as an all encompassing term involving both sports, gambling and daily fantasy sports. The sports gaming segment in North America, or in the US let’s say to focus it, it’s exploding. It’s going to explode. Just look at the investor reaction to DraftKings on the Stock Market. While everything else is going down, with the exception of Netflix and Amazon, well, here comes sports gambling. Right? It’s going back up, or it’s going up. There are very few other DFS company, or there no other DFS companies, that are capitalized like we are, that has a team like we have, and that has a brand as compelling as our brand.

Nic Sulsky: I’ll put our product up against any other site out there. Easy to pick up, cool to play, sexy to look at, fun, all of that, all those bells and whistles. But ultimately, we have positioned ourselves in a way where we’re coming out swinging right now. We never took our foot off the gas. As soon as COVID happened, as soon as the pandemic and the shutdown happened, our owner committed to our entire, we’re 37 full-time people, he committed to the entire team, no one was furloughed, hundred percent salary. It was balls to the wall.

Nic Sulsky: Like I said, Bill is an incredible guy. And any great developers out there, any great marketing, sales, customer support, we’re hiring. So There’s my plug. Right? Come on, join the team. We have an awesome team, and it’s literally go, go, go, go. And, yes, of course when sports come back… UFC’s coming back was great. NASCAR is this weekend, golf is in a few weeks, baseball, we’re all pretty bullish. Baseball is coming back in early July.

Ryan Knuppel: Oh yeah.

Nic Sulsky: Of course, we want live sports to come back and that’s going to… We kind of feel like a bull in a bullpen. Right? Let’s get that thing open. Like we’re bucking, and we’re ready to go.

Nic Sulsky: So obviously we’re excited for that moment. But right now we’re talking to literally so many teams and organizations and groups, from eSports to pro sports, to real brands, to agencies. Right now, we’re really trying to plot and navigate how we’re going to really harness the momentum of the sports gaming space, because we think that our opportunity is sky high. Because as I mentioned, yes, we have a really cool gaming platform, but we also have a really compelling brand. And if you can marry those two things together, that is that really sexy.

Nic Sulsky: One thing I find interesting about all of that discussion there, and I don’t know how much you can talk to this or whatnot, but I’ll go ahead and go anyway. The brands like FanDuel and DraftKings are starting to put a lot of their attention to the sports betting side. I almost think, does that create an opportunity for Monkey Knife Fight in the daily fantasy space where I know their teams are big and I know they got big teams, but maybe they’re going to put a little less focused on that DFS side? Because they’re really so gung ho about the sports betting side.

Nic Sulsky: It’s a two part question. One, is Monkey Knife Fight looking to potentially get into the sports betting operator side of things, or are you truly sticking with DFS? Or if you can’t answer that, I do understand that. And then secondly, could you see them slipping a little bit in that space and maybe you guys being able to, that’s why you’re going to go so aggressive at that, maybe able to slip in there and then kind of take over a little bit.

Nic Sulsky: So I’ll answer the second question first. Yes, I would be very happy to answer that first question. We’re cards on the table.

Ryan Knuppel: Transparent.

Nic Sulsky: There’s no bullshit with Monkey Knife Fight. Okay. As far as FanDuel and DraftKings and their position in the daily fantasy sports space, listen, they’re number one and two by a mile. Yeah. Let’s face facts. Obviously our goal is to get as close to them as humanly possible, because our ultimate goal is to be number one. FanDuel and DraftKings is focused on sports betting. That’s no surprise to anyone. So ultimately, yes. I don’t know anything direct about how much money they’ve allocated to their DFS business, but it is very clear from conversations I’ve had with all the affiliates, that you and I both know in this space, content providers, that their focus has definitely slipped a little bit from DFS. And also, let’s face facts, they have spent seven, eight years, spending hundreds of millions, billions of dollars in marketing, on their style of daily fantasy sports.

Nic Sulsky: If you’re a sports fan and you have not played FanDuel and DraftKings yet, the chances of you converting now are fairly slim. And they know that. Why are you going to keep spending money, hitting somebody over the head with something, if they just don’t want to do it, right?

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah.

Nic Sulsky: They’re brilliant. FanDuel and DraftKings, or the people that own FanDuel and the people that run DraftKings, they’re brilliant. Let’s face it. They understand what they’re doing, and they know that the last thing they want to do is waste money.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah.

Nic Sulsky: And the opportunity of sports gambling is massive. We all know how massive it’s going to be. We are leaning into daily fantasy sports, we are spending money. We are trying to build our position to grow our market share, because we know we have the opportunity. Google didn’t invent search. Right?

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. There was search before Google.

Nic Sulsky: There you go. FanDuel and DraftKings have built an incredible industry or have helped spearhead the growth. Many people have been involved, but let’s say they spearheaded the growth of an incredible industry. We are very happy to draft their, no pun intended, to draft their, or maybe pun intended, to draft their great work, to come on in and pick up a lot of those DFS users that either slipped off, because they just lost all of their money playing against pros and sharks, and/or convert those casual sports fans that checked out FanDuel and DraftKings and said, “Oh, man, that looks way too complicated. I don’t know who the third wide receiver on the LA Rams is. Oh, look at Monkey Knife Fight. I could pick more or less than Jared Goff, 276 and a half yards and Tom Brady more or less, 286 and a half yards. And if I get both correct, I win? Oh, that sounds easy. That sounds fun.”

Nic Sulsky: We have tons of different contest types. That’s one of our main, more or less contests. Ultimately, we are ecstatic about where the gaming industry is right now, where FanDuel and DraftKings have really focused their attention. And then to tangent into your second question about Monkey Knife Fight eventually becoming a regulated sports gaming operator from a sports betting perspective. Let’s face it, we would be foolish not to have that on our roadmap three, four years, five years down the road. Our goal right now is to build the best daily fantasy sports business possible, to acquire as many customers to build our brand, to create as compelling of a database as possible.

Nic Sulsky: And as sports gambling rolls out to more states, right now nine states have legal mobile sports betting. That’s nine. And FanDuel and DraftKings is not operating in all of them. We’re in 30, about to be 31, states right now. Hey, if I’m building a business, I’d rather be able to build my business in 31 states, as opposed to just a few. And you and I both know how expensive it is to get into sports gambling. So the reality is our plan is to build and focus on DFS. But let’s face it, three, four, five years down the road, when the time is right for us to pivot into becoming a regulated, licensed sports betting operator, yes. We love props and proposition style daily fantasy sports. And we believe that by creating a brand synonymous with props, when we do make that pivot, Monkey Knife Fight becoming synonymous with props, that’s a slam dunk. Because you and I both know that people typically utilize multiple sites for their gaming.

Nic Sulsky: You’ll play FanDuel and DraftKings and Monkey Knife Fight. You’ll go make a bet at FanDuel and you’ll make a bet at DraftKings and you’ll make a bet at, wherever else. Right? A betting champ. So, hey, if we can become the leader or synonymous with one style, I think that’s great. We love that idea. So, this is down the road, right? Honestly, thinking and evolving our strategy-

Ryan Knuppel: It’s business.

Nic Sulsky: It’s business, right? We’ve got to be able to bob and weave like any good entrepreneurial endeavor. I hope that answered your question.

Ryan Knuppel: It did. It did. That’s awesome. That’s amazing.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, Nic, man, this is a great conversation. I could sit here and talk for hours. It’s already been 30, 40 minutes. I don’t want to keep you all day. What else? Maybe some closing thoughts, anything else about the industry? Just in general, that you want the audience to hear about what you guys have going on or just in general? Anything else on your mind?

Nic Sulsky: No, let’s face it. The biggest thing on everyone’s mind is sports coming back. Sports are coming back.

Ryan Knuppel: Craving it.

Nic Sulsky: Well, that’s it. I think that as soon as sports comes back, you are going to see Monkey Knife Fight and, let’s face it, a lot of other sports gaming operators and sites absolutely explode.

Ryan Knuppel: I agree.

Nic Sulsky: I think that regardless of the investment opportunities within this space… There are not a ton of opportunities out there, right? For investors who want to get into this industry, there aren’t a lot of operators that you can buy into right now. Yes, you can go and you can buy stock of DraftKings, but you don’t have that 10 X, 20 X opportunity.

Nic Sulsky: I will say to tease a little bit, we have huge clients. We are planning on making a major play in this sector, and you can kind of read between the lines of what I’m saying there. So I think that as far as any parting shots, you started this off with people who are looking at getting into the fantasy sports industry. Hey, if you’re sitting here listening to Ryan’s show, obviously you’re familiar with the sports space. If you’re working in the fantasy sports or in the sports gaming industry right now, and you’re looking for a change and you want to join an incredible team, We are building, we are growing fast.

Nic Sulsky: Honestly, we have just the best team. And you talked about how much fun you had on Draft Day, how much you loved the product. When we started Monkey Knife Fight, Scott [Malwig 00:34:02], he’s just an incredible daily fantasy sports long-time… I don’t want to say operator. I don’t want to say marketer. I don’t want to say product guy. He’s kind of an all encompassing DFS-

Ryan Knuppel: Personality.

Nic Sulsky: Personality. Yeah. Scott joined us at the beginning and runs our product. So there’s a lot of Draft Day stuff that we’ve kind of built on and made better and integrated. We have an incredible team and what’s funny is, we’ve been remote for three years. We run completely remote. So it doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter what your specific focus is. Hey we’re making huge moves. We’re excited to see what the fall’s going to look like when you have, theoretically, every single sport going. It’s funny, we go from the desert of being a sports fan to literally the oasis of being a sports fan.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. It’s going to be nuts when sports comes back, because we’re probably going to have all these sports overlaying each other, trying to compete for time, and this and that. And I think, like you mentioned, and you alluded to, the collective balloon that is growing here, of people just ready for sports, ready for sports. It’s just going to burst when it comes back. And there’s going to be so many people playing fantasy sports, kind of getting their passion back, right? Because sometimes you can get, especially if you play a lot of DFS or play a lot of sports betting, you can get a little burned out with it as a player. I’m hopeful that this time off and this lag is going to almost rekindle some of the passion for the space. Right? You know, somebody, “Oh man, I really missed it. I need to get back and play. I can’t wait to play.” And it just goes and explodes from there. So I think you’re going to see that when sports comes back, for sure,

Nic Sulsky: I absolutely agree. I think people are chomping at the bit.

Ryan Knuppel: For sure.

Nic Sulsky: I think it’s also going to be an opportunity for people who’ve never done DFS, or who have never played Monkey Knife Fight to say, “Oh, that sounds kind of cool. I’m going to give that a go because I’m sitting here and watching baseball and I’m watching basketball at night, and it’s like, I want to make this experience a little bit better.” You can play on your phone, you can sit on the couch, play with your friends. I think that the idea of being a sports fan, especially in this fanless space, it’s also going to be a fanless experience. I think that things like daily fantasy sports and things like Monkey Knife Fight is only going to make that fanless sports experience better and more exciting. I think so.

Ryan Knuppel: Agreed.

Nic Sulsky: We’re pumped to see the pitches being thrown again and the home runs being hit again, man.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, I tell you what, you sold me. I’m about ready to fold up and head over to and join the team. You just sold me, I’m sure you guys have a great team. And I would second that, anyone listening here, that’s looking to get into the industry, Nic and the team over here at Monkey Knife Fight, probably no better place to start. Or if you’ve been in for a while and you’re looking for a change, something like that, these guys clearly know what they’re doing and have a sexy way of doing it. A sexy brand, I would say. Something a little out of the ordinary that you wouldn’t expect.

Ryan Knuppel: So, man, Nic, I appreciate you being here. Where can the audience, I know you mentioned the URL and we’ll put all that in the show notes after this, but if somebody wanted to get ahold of you, I know you’re very transparent and open. Is there any certain place that they can look you up and learn more about you or contact you?

Nic Sulsky: I think LinkedIn is great. I think LinkedIn is the best. And remember, like I was saying, and I truly believe, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Anyone out there, hit me up, man. Hit me up on LinkedIn. You can find me… I’m not a massive Twitter guy, but I’m there, at @nicsulsky at Twitter. Hit me, hit me anywhere, man.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome.

Nic Sulsky: And like you said, go to @monkeyknifefight_ on Instagram. Playmonkeyknifefight on Facebook. We’re all over the place. But best place to probably find me is LinkedIn. Because then when you stalk me, I can at least stalk you back, so I can do a little research to know that you’re also a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Hey, I am. I need the Cardinals back. I was gypped this spring because living now in Florida, I used to live in the Midwest and I’d get to go to tons of games. Now I live down in Florida. I don’t get to see as many games, but I got spring training down here. So they’re down in Jupiter. I go down for weeks at a time, I’ll watch a ton of games when they travel around Florida. Man, they only played like a week of spring training and then cut it off. So I didn’t even get a chance to watch that. So I got gypped this year.

Nic Sulsky: Yeah, buy they’ll get you back, because now as it looks it’s going to be a DH in the national league. So you’ll probably get to see Tyler O’Neill playing. That’s kind of exciting.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, all he can do is hit.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. Well, Nic, I truly appreciate you being here. Thank you so much.

Nic Sulsky: There you go, right?

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Yeah. I truly appreciate you being here. If you need anything from me, let me know. This is Nic Sulsky with Monkey Knife Fight. Thank you so much.

Nic Sulsky: No problem, Ryan. My absolute pleasure, man.

Ryan Knuppel: All right, bye. Bye. Take care, everyone. Thanks for listening. Until next time, have a great day.


Relevant for Keith McDonnell Links

  1. Facebook (Monkey Knife Fight, @PlayMonkeyKnifeFight)
  2. Twitter (@mkf)
  3. Instagram (@monkeyknifefight_)

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