Chris Adams, the founder and CEO of SharpRank, joins the show to talk about his new ratings service for handicappers and personalities in the betting space.

Ryan Knuppel:

Hey, what’s going on everybody? Ryan Knuppel here in The Knup Sports Show episode a 148. Thanks so much for spending this Thursday alongside me. Hope you’re having a great day and excited to jump right into today’s interview. We have another awesome guest today. Somebody I’ve met over the last couple months here a few times, and really have gotten to enjoy, you know everything this individual’s about, and what they’re doing in this awesome eye gaming industry. So excited to bring him on. I’ll introduce him in just a second. For those of you listening live, we always encourage comments, questions, whatever you want to say, put it in your YouTube chat and your Twitch chat, whatever. We will address those as they come up. We’ll see them, we’ll address them. We love to take live questions, it kind of helps lead the interview as it is. So without further ado, I’m going to bring Chris Adams on, the founder and CEO of Sharp Rank. Chris, are you with me?

Chris Adams:

I’m here. Can you hear me all right?

Ryan Knuppel:

I can, I can, man. Thanks so much for coming on the show, really appreciate it.

Chris Adams:

Great. Yeah. I’m happy to be here. Yeah. It’s been fun getting to know you and your guys’ platform over the past few months and looking forward to it.

Ryan Knuppel:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, Chris, hopefully you’re staying safe. You’re over in Maryland, right? Is that where you’re at?

Chris Adams:

Yep. Our headquarters is just north of Baltimore by about 15 minutes. So, close to everything, New York, D.C., Philly, all the big hubs.

Ryan Knuppel:

That’s awesome.

Chris Adams:

Small little office that’s getting smaller by every new hire.

Ryan Knuppel:

Yeah. Oh, I hear you. It just keeps on, keeps on going. So, a little background for those of you listening, Chris and I got to meet out in Vegas for G2. We got to touch base there and hopefully you had a good event there, but then we also got to say hello and hang out a little bit at SBC up in New Jersey, right around where you’re at, I guess. So, that was good times as well. I’ve been enjoying, hanging with you in person, Chris, that’s been fun. Hopefully we can do some more of that.

Chris Adams:

Yeah, it has been fun. You know, I’m forcing the in person issue with folks at this point, just because I get so much enjoyment out of getting to meet. One of the things that’s super fun for me and us is to watch the innovative flood into sports betting as it grows in the US. The in intellect that’s coming into this market is incredible, aside from me, of course, but there are some very, very smart people coming from all over the place, and you know, my background is… Nobody’s path to sports betting in the US is totally linear. Mine’s a little different, and so getting to meet you; and you’re so plugged in in the scene, it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Ryan Knuppel:

That’s amazing. That’s cool. Tell us a little bit about you. You just mentioned you’re not the linear person in the sports betting space. So, give us a little bit about your background and what led you to where you are today.

Chris Adams:

Sure. My background, the seat I’m sitting in as the CEO here, if you were to compress and concentrate my previous work experiences and take that concentrate out, it would be exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I started my career with an investment banking firm for professional and semi-professional sports franchises, so buying and selling teams and other projects for owners and things of that nature. I then went to KPMG to be an auditor for three and a half years. I went down to Virginia to get my MBA, came back to investment banking, but for mostly sell side for data tech and cyber companies in the middle market. Then we founded Sharp Rank. So, just kind of a perfect marriage of what I really enjoy.

Ryan Knuppel:

Hey, if you’re putting together everything you enjoy and you’re doing that, props to you, because that’s what life’s about. You got to enjoy everything that you’re doing. If you can find that sweet spot, and man, it makes life so much easier to navigate through, correct?

Chris Adams:

Oh my gosh, yeah, I tell people that all the time, and the toughest part of my day is coming home after, because I get to critically think and problem solve for 16 hours a day, which is intellectually, it is everything I’ve ever wanted to do. So, the toughest part of my, in an industry that I love, the toughest part of my day is coming home and not having a smile on my face because my wife’s a huge supporter of what I get to do. We have a 10 month old at this point, so her day is incredibly hectic. Then I get home at midnight or 2:00, and I’m happy as can be, and she is like, “I don’t want to hear that.” [crosstalk 00:05:25] Yeah, I don’t want to hear that. But it’s true, I’ve always worked a lot of hours with investment banking, public accounting, MBA programs, all that sort of stuff has always been long hours, but the differentiator is not just doing parts of what you love, but I get to do exactly what I love. Exactly.

Ryan Knuppel:

I love that. I love that. Let’s dive into exactly what that is, right? Let’s give the audience, I’m sure most of them have heard a little bit about Sharp Rank by now, but give us the elevator pitch of what Sharp Rank is.

Chris Adams:

Absolutely, the easiest way to describe it is we are the ratings agency, the independent ratings agency for sports betters. Anyone who holds themselves out publicly making picks, whether that’s on social media, through a media platform or just a handicap or selling picks, things of that nature, could even be a predictive model that makes predictions and picks that way, we rate and rank them. The easiest comparable for us is Morningstar. So, much like Morningstar rates, mutual funds and other investment opportunities. You can use the Morningstar platform, their app and their website to go source opportunities for yourself, as either the general public or an investment advisor; but then if you’re also to open up your Charles Schwab or your T. Rowe Price account, you can see the Morningstar ratings in there as well. So, we’re following a very similar framework where we have a platform where people can come find validated sources of information, but they also see us in the author byline at USA Today Sports and Sportsbook Choir, and all these other platforms.

Chris Adams:

We’ve been fortunate to be the ratings agency for some really great partners. We take our job really seriously, because what we think we provide is the eventual tie in to financial markets with sports betting. That, to us, is really the next generation of what happens with sports betting. How we see it is there are characteristics that are built into sports betting that make it an asset class candidate. It has infinite quantity. It has investment vehicles, short, long term investing, different sectors and ponds that you can fish in, all sorts of components that make it an investing tool. We think because of that and the fact that it hedges against the market, it doesn’t matter what the market’s doing. You can sports bet whenever you want, as much as you want. We think we’re in a really strong position to be the ratings agency here.

Ryan Knuppel:

I love it, and there’s such a need for this type of a thing. Kind of growing up, living in the sports betting industry, my whole life, I mean handicappers and touts and people of that status, right? They’re throwing picks out all over the place, and a lot of times you really are kind of skeptical. You’re like, “Wait, they just said they won 12 in a row or something,” and making claims and just all of this stuff that kind of puts some bad light on the industry when you see some of that kind of, I’ll just call it what it is, some shady stuff that you see out there from different handicappers or touts in the industry. So, something like this where it’s truly, truly unbiased ratings of these types of people, I can imagine is needed, but it’s probably really good for the personalities and these people too, because they now have a little credibility behind what they’re saying, right? I’m assuming that’s one of the real benefit to using Sharp Rank.

Chris Adams:

You nailed it on the head. That was one of our biggest question marks going into this to this venture was look, if no one’s ever received a report card, why let us in, right? It works really well for people. What we found is a lot of folks want that separation between them and that snake oil sales person. They want to be viewed as a credible source of information, and that’s what we provide. It’s more than pick tracking. That’s a positive side effect of our business model. We’re data science focused. We’re looking at… Our ranking and our rating algorithm is really intelligent. It takes into account about 40 different parameters to give you a complete picture of who this person is, so that, more so than just results.

Chris Adams:

I know if I’m looking at somebody who has my flavor of ice cream, right? And I can begin to understand who I like, whose process I like, what characteristics about them is indicative of what I find valuable. We were met with overwhelming acceptance in this market, and you know, you get some people who are like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever.”

Chris Adams:

And that’s fine, right? We’re not out there bashing people who refuse our platform. It’d be great content, but we’re not a content platform. So, we’re a ratings agency.

Ryan Knuppel:

Right. Right. Right. That badge of honor, that’s what I like to think of it as, just a stamp of approval on what I’m providing and from a pick side. I love that piece of it, and I think you guys are moving in the right direction there. One thing I wanted to chat about, and I wanted to congratulate you in person, I know you had some success in a competition recently here at the SBC event. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you guys participated in, and what the results of that were?

Chris Adams:

Sure. Yeah. We were selected as a finalist at the Pitch Competition at SBC in New Jersey last month. What month is it? It’s December. We went up and pitched. It was a three minute pitch in front of a panel of really, really intelligent and impactful folks who were the judges. We went up and pitched and ended up taking home the top prize, which is great. There were a lot of really, there were four other finalists, great companies, really, really great companies. So, really stiff competition, and I think what the judges saw, and I think what people are starting to see is that those early stages of the financial market tie-ins, right? You have 10 different stock markets, now, that exist out there.

Chris Adams:

You have peer to peer betting where, if I’m on a peer to peer platform, I need to know I’m not playing IBM Watson on the other side of my trade, right? There’s a level of transparency that needs to exist for the market to evolve responsibly, and that’s what we provide. We provide that core service that is necessary. It’s not like it would be a nice to have.

It is required for the market to expand. So, yeah, we took home the top prize and it was great. Those events are I crazy, they are a whirlwind, as you know. We see each other like this about seven times. It’s a lot of fun though. It’s something that we’re really proud of, and we’ll continue to continue to build our platform, and keep growing.

Ryan Knuppel:

Well, congrats on that. Yeah, like you said, there’s some big leaders in the industry that were evaluating that, and for them to choose you guys as the top company in that competition, that’s amazing and really kind of validates what you’re doing, right? Not that you needed that, but it just validates what you’re doing here with Sharp Rrand. So, congrats on that. Talk a little bit about, I guess, who would want to use you guys, you know, somebody that’s listening, that’s like, “Ah, you know, I give some picks here and there.” Now, can anyone that’s giving picks, just use the Sharp Rank app and start getting graded, or how does that whole process work?

Chris Adams:

Yeah. Great question because we get this a lot now, since we are the ratings agency for some bigger platforms. We get calls now from folks who are like, “Hey, I put my picks out and I want to get a rating and so on and so forth.” So, we have a pretty defined process with how we do that, where we initiate oversight. So, we keep our eyes on a lot of people that we believe are doing things above board and the right way. Most of the time we’re right, and if we are, it’s called we initiate coverage. So, we will reach out to that person, if they haven’t already reached out to us, we’ll say, “Hey, we’ve been keeping an eye on you. We’d like to bring you on this platform and get you rated and ranked with the other personalities and handicappers on our platform.”

Chris Adams:

Quantity, and this is a key differentiator for us, I think, is that quantity is not as important if as we continue to build as a market institution. Because as I’ve been like reiterating, and probably to a sickening extent, talking about financial markets, that quantity is less important than it is the quality of the person coming on. And that can be a combination of skill, character, influence, all those sorts of things that go into how we make a selection for people coming onto our platform. Once we initiate coverage, the expert or the platform can point us to their articles where we can pull those things and run those picks through our validating scripts, so that we can make sure that what they’re posting is accurate. Then that gets run through our algorithms. Out the other side comes the rating, and behind that sits a sharp card and a tear sheet, which looks like an equity report based on our proprietary metrics.

So, we are kind of defining the way the market will look at pickers with respect to these metrics. There was a time when no one knew to look at a price to earnings ratio for a stock, and now it’s a big metric people use. We’ve done the same thing with respect to sports betters. From that point on we can either pull it from their platform. They can use our mobile app as a way to input those picks. Really whatever is easiest and whatever helps the expert the most, helps them the most. So, a couple different ways to cut it, but the end result is above board, validated information in a researched hub.

Ryan Knuppel:

That’s really cool. Our team has a little firsthand experience with this, as one of our own Tanner Kern has been using you guys and working with you guys over the past several months, and he has nothing but great things to say about Sharp Rank and everything that goes along with it. I think he’s moved himself up into the top 40 in a couple sports, I think. He’s always proud of seeing his ranking and where he’s at, which rightfully so, you should be, if you’re a good handicapper and can pick winners.

Chris Adams:

Yeah.

Ryan Knuppel:

You should be proud of that, right? That probably makes you feel good as an owner. It’s kind of what you want the personality to feel, correct?

Chris Adams:

Yeah, exactly. Tanner’s a perfect example, right? He is… I view him as a perfect example and a way to use it to your advantage, right? There’s nothing saying that you have to promote your down weeks, right? And largely our algorithm’s smart enough to… one bag week is not going to kill you, right? We’ve built it in a way that it takes a long term approach to who this person is as a sports better. We’ve built it in a way that’s cross sport functional. So, if I pick on horse race and you pick every NFL total every weekend, we can be rated on the same system, but you can also segment it out by sport. A lot of times with the folks that we work with, we highlight something called a spotlight, which is the simplest form of what we do, which is which teams are you really good at [crosstalk 00:19:36] ?

Chris Adams:

A lot of people don’t even realize they’re six and 0, when they pick the Raiders. They have no idea. So, you take that and then you amplify it by some really smart data science with all these sorts of metrics that are deeper behavioral understandings of that person, and it really provides an outlet for… And it’s just an additional content creator for Tanner, right? He puts his picks out, but then can also create articles around where he ranks and why he’s really good at picking certain teams, and what makes him really good with respect to our RA and underdog weighted magnitude metric, and all those sorts of things. So, yeah, I’m a big fan of Tanner’s. We really don’t bring too many people into the fold that are going to be jerks…

… and not adhere to what we do. I’m just a big Tanner fan, in general.

Ryan Knuppel:

Well, of course, we are too. We’re a little biased. Tanner’s probably watching this and shaking his head because we’re talking about him so much, but that’s all right. Or he’s outright an article possibly, who knows what Tanner’s up to, but anyway, we’ll move on from that. What’s next for you guys? What’s on the future horizon? I’m sure you guys are always innovating and wanting to… But what’s next? What do you guys need here in the near future?

Chris Adams:

Yeah. Next, over the next few weeks, you’ll start to see the next wave of sports rolled out onto our platform. So, we’ll begin coverage on a few different platforms that focus maybe on basketball or hockey or so on and so forth, and begin to bring those folks into the fold. Because we’re cross four functional, we can rate and rank anyone.

That’s a big part of what we do. In addition to that, not just from new sports, you’ll start to see prop bets getting implemented into the ratings and rankings. Then further, on our direct to consumer side with our mobile app, you’ll start to see some easier ways to dig in to the social aspects of what is listed on our platform. The different types of features with respect to creating bet tickets, and all those sorts of things, where if you follow along with Tanner, and Tanner makes a pick, you can automate that to a bet ticket for you, and those types of things.

In addition to that type of stuff, we will just continue to grow and really dig into the financial side of things. I mentioned it multiple times again, but there are now starting to be, along with these stock market and peer to peer things, there are starting to be funds that will sequester and begin to see if they can use quants to beat the book. Because you can… Portfolio theory tells us that if I can get an expected value of greater than zero, I can optimize diversification.

And that’s been the biggest miss, with respect to sports betting, because for a lot of people, it’s a losing proposition. It doesn’t have to be. That is really where we’re starting to see it, because if you have stock markets and you have the infrastructure for it, you can then create tools that are used to trade in those markets. So, we’ll continue to have our finger on that pulse very, very tightly.

Ryan Knuppel:

Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s amazing. Well, Chris, it sounds like you guys have a lot in store, and you’re clearly a great addition to the sports betting community. I know you didn’t always grow up in this industry, but man, you have a great mind for this. What you’re doing with Sharp Rank, I can’t commend you enough. So, I’m excited, I’m really excited to see where you guys lead, and where that heads as you guys continue to grow. Congrats to where you’ve been, and I’m excited to see where it all heads.

Chris Adams:

Yeah, look, no bones about it, I like you and your platform a lot. I think what you guys are building is really great as well.

Ryan Knuppel:

Appreciate it.

Chris Adams:

It’s been fun getting to know you, and I think what’s going to be really fun is watching each other and working with each other over the next few years, and…

Ryan Knuppel:

For sure.

Chris Adams:

… seeing each other grow and build and…

Ryan Knuppel:

I don’t think I want to see my name in there though, because I have a feeling I know where I’d be on that list. I’d probably be about down here at the very bottom. If I tried to put my picks on there.

Chris Adams:

A lot of people do say that. That is a question of some people, and so we’ll track them behind the scenes and say…

Ryan Knuppel:

Oh there we go.

Chris Adams:

“Here’s where you would, here’s where you want to be.”

Ryan Knuppel:

Yeah, that’s cool.

Chris Adams:

So, we kind of give them a little bit of a preview into it before they dive head first. Most people are just like, “Yeah, sign me up. I’m ready to bet.”

Ryan Knuppel:

Yeah. One more thing for you, Chris, before I know you got to go, you a busy schedule, but I would… I always like to ask this question, and I just love to hear your answer to this, but what are you needing? What are you looking for? I mean, maybe somebody listening to this could help you with something. Is there anything in particular that you’d like to ask of the community that may be listening to this?

Chris Adams:

That is probably the nicest question I’ve been asked in an interview ever.

Ryan Knuppel:

I can’t promise we’ll get it for you, but what do you need? What are you looking?

Chris Adams:

Well, thank you. We are always looking for talent. When I say talent, that can mean a lot of different things. That can be tech talent, so developer talent, that can be data science talent, that can be sales talent, that can be… We have a Campus Captain Program at 30 different universities where they get incentivized and paid in either cash or cryptocurrency to go build communities around what we’re doing with our direct consumer mobile app. So, we are always looking for talent. We will also always take a phone call, always. So, if you have suggestions of talent or suggestions of what we do and how we do it and how we could potentially enhance it or partner, we’re all ears. We answer and field those questions all day. Or if you put your picks out there, and you want to get listed alongside some of the industry big dogs, we’re also open to checking you out.

Ryan Knuppel:

Very cool. Very cool. Awesome, Chris, well guess what Tanner was paying attention and he said, “Appreciate the comment. Sharp Rank is the best.” [crosstalk 00:27:31]

Chris Adams:

Man, Tanner should… Tanner, I’m so shocked that he was not in front of a camera while this was happening.

Ryan Knuppel:

I should have brought him on. I should have just popped him on and said, “Hello.”

Chris Adams:

Yeah, no, I look for his stuff every week because I find it entertaining and smart.

Ryan Knuppel:

Yep. Good stuff. Good stuff, Chris. Well, really appreciate you being on here. Really insightful, and I wish you the best of luck. If there’s anything I can do for you, as we head down this journey, just let me know. I’m excited to have you on, let’s say, a year from now and give another update from where Sharp Rank’s at. So, thanks again for being here, Chris.

Chris Adams:

Oh, absolutely, man. It was a pleasure. I’m looking forward to it. Thank you.

Ryan Knuppel:

All right. Take care.

Chris Adams:

See you.

Ryan Knuppel:

All right. That was Chris Adams, the CEO and founder of Sharp Rank. Really great guy as you guys can tell, really smart guy in this industry bringing some great stuff to what’s going on here in eye gaming and sports betting. So, hope you enjoyed that. Thank you for the comments. Thank you for the views. Please remember to share this. We’re out on iTunes. We’re on YouTube. We’re on Facebook. So go out, subscribe, share. You can get all of the industry interviews that we do with any kind of startups or companies in this space. So, really appreciate you. Have a great one. Stay safe until next time, I’m Ryan Knuppel. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

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