CEO of PickUp, Dan Healy, talks about the strides that PickUp has made since his first time on the show and optimism for the future of the sports betting industry.

Video from Dan Healy Interview

Show notes from Dan Healy Interview

Ryan Knuppel: Welcome back to another episode of The Knup Sports Show. I’m your host Ryan Knuppel with you each and every time. Thanks for joining us during this crazy time, it’s the holidays, things are getting probably nutty and all of your schedules. So, I definitely appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your time and just hearing what we have to say here.  We have a second time returning guests to the show with us today. Dan Healy, co-founder and CEO of PickUp.  Dan, thanks for joining me again.

Dan Healy: Yes, Ryan thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Ryan Knuppel: Absolutely. I’m looking forward to hearing what is going on in your world. For those of you that don’t know or didn’t listen to maybe previously, Dan was on episode 74, of this show as well. You can get the background, we won’t go into all of his background again and talk through that. But, you can go back listen to that and hear kind of where Dan came from and how he got to where he is today. Today we really want to just dive into what’s new and kind of in this betting world plus in the PickUp world, so we’ll just see where this conversation goes down. I appreciate you joining me. You’ve been staying healthy through this pandemic?

Dan Healy: Yes, we’ve been trying. We’ve done our best right, the team is all work from home. So even on a snowy day in the northeast like that, we’re no days off. You got no excuse. We’ve all been alright. Thank goodness.

Ryan Knuppel: Great – Good to hear.  What is new in your world since we last talk? What’s new in the PickUps world and everything going well? Have you seen an uptick or a downtick or is everything the same for you guys? Give me a little update?

Dan Healy: Yes, it’s cool to come back on because the last time we spoke it was February, right?  Who knew what was to come in the months ahead, clearly. Just as a little background, PickUp is a platform, it allows content creators to embed contextually relevant questions directly into their blog posts, their articles, and through social and now audio and all that. Last week, we had spoken, we were in the beta phase, and we hadn’t released it out to the world. Fortunately, we did take an investment from some amazing people in the space KB partners out of Chicago, as well as Drive by DraftKings. We launched in July, we launched publicly right as sports, we’re coming back. We’d love for some really exciting partners. USA Today, MMA junkie, such as myself as wire, lax all stars and the guys over at NFL analysis. So for us, it’s been, in this world, it’s learning and growth. When you’re in a new industry, you’re kind of navigating the unknown. For us, it’s been about bringing in some people from the space to help the expertise, as we talked about last time, my backgrounds in product and in early stage companies, and not necessarily in space and then onboarding and growth. So it’s been great.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s great to hear. Because it’s interesting, a lot of people think or they associate the pandemic, and the shutdown in sports and all of that they associate that with business going poorly, or business maybe stalling. I think sometimes, especially for us in the digital world, right, who are doing digital business, it may be the opposite, right? A lot of people are now looking to go digital and are looking to how they can grow their footprint in the online space. I think, from what I’m hearing you say, and what I know about my business it’s the exact opposite. There’s a lot going on right now. Sports are now back in some capacity, even though there’s not fans. Though that doesn’t really affect the digital side of things, there’s still even more craving now for the digital side. So, speak a little bit to that growth and what you’ve seen.

Dan Healy: Yes, I think that’s right. I feel for all of the companies that have struggled through this, and I hope that there’s light on the other side.  What we’ve seen is we’ve really had to, less  than pivot, we really had to focus. So one trend that we quickly saw during the early months of the pandemic was there a lot of layoffs and a lot of furloughs in sports media. There were a lot of really talented people, journalists, beat writers, etc, that were like our platform and the way we had built it was really aimed at these independent content creators at these men and women who were creating their own content and looking for a way to monetize that hobby. So for instance, we brought on our content team and actually came over from the Athletic they were in. They were part of the layoffs that happened over there and your background in Bleacher Report, and so they know this world very, very well. So what we saw was, there’s actually a new market being created. There’s an opportunity for these people that used to write for large sports media but, it’s not right for themselves. A comparison would be in 08-09 there were, obviously there was a financial crisis, there were a lot of layoffs and a lot of people kind of out of the job back, then those folks started to go over to places like Etsy or go over to places like Shopify and sell their own goods. Well, we want to do that same thing for these independent content creators, give them an outlet, give them a place to tap into the revenue that’s coming through the world of sports betting, on the brand side and across the board.  So when we think about how we would have reacted to the pandemic and the impact that it’s had on business, we’ve instead shifted into how we build digital tools for this new market that’s being created. That has led to some pretty interesting success.

Ryan Knuppel: I love that. That’s very cool. You’re 100%, right, that there’s so many opportunities out there, for these people, even though they may not see it right away, right. But, that’s what we’re here to do is educate them on these opportunities. So that’s amazing. So you spoke of, PickUp being a partner now with a whole bunch of great sites. I mean, you listed off 5,6, or 7 of them there, I didn’t catch them all. But, I’m wondering what the growth of that is, are you looking to partner with as many sites as possible? Or you really got with the core of them now? What’s your growth plan around like new sites? Are you looking to partner with new sites or media outlets? Every day?

Dan Healy: Yes. So that I mean, that’s what we’ve done, we were a little cautious when we launched, to make sure the system worked.  It has, it’s worked incredibly well. So everything that we’ve done now on the technology side has been an investment so that we can work with 100 publishers, 1000 publishers, 10,000 publishers, we’ve grown from, from the five that I initially listed to 30. Now, we’ve got a backlog of about 50 and we’ll just continue to grow. The goal is, that PickUp just becomes a part of your behavior, right? I mean, we’ve got some things that we’re releasing in the new year that make it worthwhile, that make sense, get you more eyeballs that get you more attention, and ideally, make your content more interactive and monetizable.

Ryan Knupple: Give us that 1000 foot view again, real quick, because I’m sitting and backtracking in my mind, and I know that people listening are probably like, Oh, crap, I need to go back and listen to Episode 74 so I understand more about what it is, but just give us that view, what these publishers are doing with it. I mean, you are embedding content that is enhancing that content for them. Now, are they monetizing this through you guys? Just give us a little bit, of that thousand-foot view again, real quick.

Dan Healy: Yes, absolutely. PickUp at its core is a platform, and it is a database of questions all about the most relevant sports topics.  We have social listening tools that tap into the world of Twitter, the tap into the subreddits of the world and blogs.  We quantify those opinions and we quantify those questions. So think about, did the Eagles win this weekend, or even more specifically, did Jalen Hurts throw two touchdowns like those sorts of things are what people in the Philly world are talking about, right?  When our publishing partners, and again, it’s actually a revenue share, we do not charge them, it’s a revenue share opportunity.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s what I was gonna ask.

Dan Healy: Okay, so they tap into our network, and our network generates revenue through a number of different areas, a lot of it is sponsorship centric, some of it is, is through like, affiliate commerce, that sort of stuff, right. We pass this revenue along to them. But more importantly, than the revenue, the direct revenue at this point is really creating a community around your content. So if you’re reading an article on Full Scale Philly, for instance, and Full Scale Philly is one of our one of our publishing partners. It is my guy Brian cast, super talented covers all things Philly sports. He’s writing about the Eagles game this weekend, there’s likely a question in there, that is what the Eagles fandom is talking about and you answer that question. When you answer that question, as a fan, you then put in your phone number, you’re associated with a leaderboard. You can win prizes, yes and all sorts of stuff, right? But more importantly, you share it, you share it with your community, because if you follow the Eagles to that extent, your buddies probably do as well. So we’re generating more eyeballs, we’re creating engagement opportunities and then we’re creating competition around the content that people are already engaging with.

Ryan Knuppel: Very cool. So when the end user answers the question and puts in their phone number. Now, is that data that the publisher has access to as well? Or is that just something that goes to you guys? How does that data collection work?

Dan Healy: Yes, the reason they put their phone number is to compete and to have access to that receipt, you could call it that is all driven through the pickup platform, right. I think this way, I’ll give an example for new sports, for instance, we were to put questions into your articles or in your podcast recaps. Somebody you know, made a pick, put their phone number and we then give you the opportunity to send them an offer, write some sort of like, you’re subscribed to my newsletter, here, sign up, you know, for my podcast, whatever it might be. That way, you can give them something relevant, you can get them to sign up, but we would never share or sell their data.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s a win, win. I mean, that sounds like a great, great thing. I’m glad you brought up new sports, because I’m gonna be hitting you up. I’m gonna be knocking on your door after this call to make sure we get some things implemented here. Now that you guys are live and rolling, that’s amazing. What’s the future look like? Besides growth and all of this? I mean, now you guys are still developing the application and developing your functionality within PickUp what’s the 2021 outlook? What’s on the horizon for you guys? You can talk about?

Dan Healy: Yes, absolutely.  It’s not going to stop right, we’re going to continue to make sure that the features that we currently have are getting better, but also we’re going to release some exciting stuff. So one thing that we’re going to do, as I mentioned, we do have a really, really great content team, we invested heavily in bringing them in, and they’re wildly smart.  A guy Dave Scipione and Jeff Carrillo those two men over Bleacher Report.  Brian Ginise who, who worked with them at The Athletic. One thing we’re going to do is we’re going to start a syndication side. We’re going to have this home base where all of the most relevant articles in major sports are going to be highlighted there. On top of it, there’s going to be this element of gamification. So if you’re embedding our props, and you cover the St. Louis Blues, or St. Louis sports or whatever it might be, then we’re going to see that people are making pics, and you’ll automatically just be shown on top of the hub. So that’s going to be something pretty cool, we’re excited about. Then the other major investment we’ve just made is really focused on distribution. So I have this belief that you don’t need to build something on an independent platform anymore, meaning you don’t just build an iOS app, you don’t just build an Android app. When people ask us what platform our application is on, I say SMS so our push is actually to make the pics much more shareable and much more engaging. So that you’re constantly sharing, honestly, news articles, content, etc. within your group, instead of just saying something like, Kyrie is going to go for 30 tonight or KD’s gonna make a triple double, I always refer to the Nets because they’re my team. But, if you’re doing that, then we want to give you the tools as a fan to quantify them, right to make it competitive within your own group.

Ryan Knuppel: So I’ll ask you a question then. So here’s a PickUp question for you.  Will KD and Kyrie play a full season for the Nets this year all the way through the playoffs?

Dan Healy: I’m a big believer in putting positive things out to the universe. So I’m going to go with Yes.

Ryan Knuppel: I think all Nets fans are hoping that they are going to that’s uh, who knows? We’ll see though, right? Amazing, cool. Well, then awesome. It was so good to catch up with you. I don’t want to keep you forever. I could probably talk forever about this type of content and all of the above around this. But what else? What else is on your mind? One question I had for you. This is so randomly off topic, but how are you feeling about, how the states are coming along, and the legalization of sports betting and things like that. That’s just a topic I’d like to talk to people about. We had a huge 2019 where all the states were kind of moving quickly, and then it kind of stopped and now it’s really picking back up with some momentum again. What are you hearing? What do you seeing about legalization in the United States of sports betting? Are you still there with the progress?

Dan Healy: Yes, I mean, I can’t keep up with it on the affiliate side, right. Mechanisms for revenues is on the affiliate. They’re going to continue to push, they’re going to continue to open it up. So what did we see last month something just over $900 million was waiting in New Jersey, right? Just under a billion dollars this year. We’re going to be coming out of a tough time and states need tax dollars. Sports betting is no longer taboo. Big media is taking care of that; it’s part of the fan conversation. It’s now a major revenue stream for everybody in sports leagues teams, and local and state governments. So we’re going to continue to see that push forward. Let’s get to 40 states. States, just keep saying it, because you never want somebody to, it’s eventually going to determine where games are played. Yeah, like 100%. And the incremental revenue, especially for small businesses, that comes along with large games called Super Bowl, call it National Championship, call it March Madness, whatever it might be, golf tournaments. You don’t want to not get access to those dollars, because you don’t allow sports betting.

Ryan Knuppel: Yes and even more importantly with this pandemic, hopefully, the states, let’s get to 40 states, but hopefully, they all are seeing the importance of allowing mobile betting, because, some of them still have not been allowing that. I think it’s like, it’s just a no brainer, in my mind. It really frustrates me to see that decision made in some states. Hopefully, with the pandemic, that’s one good thing that comes out of it is like, well, we have to have a mobile presence or we can’t really move forward. So let’s get 40 states all on mobile as well.

Dan Healy: Well and I think that’s right. I think that’s just like I look at that as politics. I feel like if somebody needs to get it over the line, they’ll get it over the line.  Then eventually they’ll say, look, we’re getting $1, we could be getting $10. Yes and then it goes to online because you’re even standing outside of the sports book, right, with the exception of a barstool, or some of these, like, really fun, really brand centric books, you’re still gonna place that mobile bet, you might even place it while you’re sitting inside of the book buying beers, right? It’s in the books needed to the operators needed as well, for loyalty and for all of the things that are going to make them successful. It can’t be stand alone and can’t be physical.

Ryan Knuppel: Absolutely. Alright, Dan. Well, any last words for the audience? How can they get a hold of you if they want to? Or what should they be looking at? Where and how can they? There could be some publishers out there and I bet there’s quite a few listening to this show. What if they were interested in working with you guys? What’s the best avenue to kind of get going with you guys?

Dan Healy: Yes, email me is honestly the best way to shoot me an email at [email protected] and send us a note. We’ll get to you and set up really quickly. It takes five minutes and then yes, let’s work together. Let’s build something for this community. Because this community can thrive in the future of digital content and sports.

Ryan Knuppel: Alright, well check your email inbox right after this, because I’m going to be sending you one because I’m excited to get going and publishing on a bunch of our sites that we have going on. Man, I really respect what you’re doing for the community. I love following your stuff on LinkedIn and things out there. So, for me, I just want to say thank you for everything you do to move this industry forward. Because without people like yourself, it’s not as fun of a place to be. So, I really appreciate what you do for the industry.

Dan Healy: Right back at you. I mean, you continue to bring these storylines and these people and the progress to the world in bite size. That’s what it’s all about. You’re awesome.

Ryan Knuppel: Appreciate it, man. Appreciate it. All right, Dan. Well, happy holidays. I appreciate you being here. Take care. Any last words before we get let you go?

Dan Healy: Happy Holidays to you as well. Stay safe, and let’s do some amazing things in the new year.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing. All right. That was Dan Healy, Co-founder and CEO of Pickup, appreciate Dan being here. Appreciate all you guys listening. As always, if you don’t hear from me again, before the holidays, I’m gonna take a little time. I’m heading down to the Florida Keys for a few hours or a few days, and going to spend some time down there.  Never been there, so I’ll be out there. I hope you all have a great holiday. If you need anything from me. You know how to get a hold of me. Need anything from Dan, the links will be in the show notes. We appreciate all of the listeners. Take care. Stay safe. Have a great holiday. All right, everybody. Bye-bye.

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