Listen in as Joel Cettina joins the show to discuss his new company Props Fantasy. With Props Fantasy you can use your fantasy football lineup over and over, easily, in different formats and competitions.

Ryan Knuppel

Hey, what’s going on, everybody? Ryan Knuppel here, Knup Sports Show episode 152. We have another special guest with us today, but before I get into introducing him, I want to welcome you. Anybody watching this live, thank you for watching it live. Please hit a comment, ask us questions, feel free to interact with this show. We will take any questions you have. We’ll put them up. We’ll address them live. So please put us on the spot. We love nothing more for that to happen, but go ahead and put us on the spot. For those of you watching this on replay, we really appreciate all the support you’re giving the show. So make sure you’re subscribed to it, put comments in it wherever you’re watching it. We have this out live on every channel we can think of. So we really appreciate the support. Without further ado, we’re going to bring on our guest today. Today, I have Joel Cettina of Props Fantasy. Joel, are you with me?

Joel Cettina

Hey, how you doing?

Ryan Knuppel

I’m doing well. How are you today, Joel?

Joel Cettina

Hi. Living the dream, taking it day by day.

Ryan Knuppel

Living the dream. I love it. You’re up in Brooklyn. So living that New York life. I love it. How’s life treating you in Brooklyn?

Joel Cettina

Good, good. New York is getting a… We just got our butt whooped by Omicron, but things seem to be coming down. So city’s lively and things are great here.

Ryan Knuppel

I feel like about everybody got their butt whooped by Omicron. It feels like that was a global-wide problem, but you know what, luckily it feels like maybe we’re getting over that hurdle and onto the next thing. So let’s hope that’s over for now. But let’s dive in. Let’s tell the audience and people listening a little bit about yourself. If people haven’t met you yet, tell us a little bit about where you came from and kind of what makes you tick.

Joel Cettina

Yeah, great. So I started my career in marketing. I’ve always been kind of like a problem solver and a creator, and I’m actually a dyslexic. So as I came out of college, social media started ramping up and frankly, those skills really weren’t translatable. So I needed to find a way to take all that energy, all that passion and put it somewhere new. So I turned around and found a career in product management, which basically helps people build software. So for the last decade, I have been kind of helping teens, startups, big companies, build software and achieve goals through building professional, great software.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s really cool. And then I’m jumping a little ahead here, but I’m assuming that background and everything you’ve done with building software is kind of what led you into what you’re doing now with Props Fantasy. But before we get into Props Fantasy, tell me just… I mean, is there anything in the fantasy space that you’ve done? Or what kind of led you to starting something with Props Fantasy? I mean, have you always loved the fantasy space?

Joel Cettina

Yeah. So I mean as I said before, I’m a innate problem solver and I’m also a really big fantasy fan. So I’ve been playing dynasty and keeper all the way since I can remember, and it’s how I hang with some of my best friends and we keep the chats going. But it was funny because one of my friends was really not digging the format, the dynasty format that we had. And there wasn’t a lot of change for him. And he said, there really wasn’t a lot of skin in the game for him. So as I started to think about that, I was like, well, how could I make our game more fun for him? And that’s kind of how this Props Fantasy idea kind of just snowballed. And having a background in tech and having connections and having been a founder before, I kind of was in a place where I was like, well, I don’t want to regret this later.

Joel Cettina

And the industry’s really heating up as we see it today. These hybrid fantasy models that are coming out are really kind of taking hold and disrupting this market. And I just don’t want to see this be a regret of mine as somebody else comes in and does what I’m trying to do. And so I went for it and started putting together a team of people that know what they’re doing that have been in the space before or have excelled in software engineering. And really it was trial by fire and kind of hit the ground running to learn the industry from behind the curtains.

Ryan Knuppel

And it’s a crazy industry, isn’t it? There’s a lot going on in the fantasy space. The sports betting space is booming currently. It’s definitely an industry that you got to run to keep up with because there’s a lot going on. So let’s dive in to Props Fantasy. So propsfantasy.com is the website. It looks like you have an app out here as well. We’re actually going to add it to the stream. “Take your fantasy lead to a new level, experience a brand new way to play fantasy sports using the team you already have.” What does that mean? What is Props Fantasy?

Joel Cettina

Well, it’s great. I mean, listen, every year I spend I don’t know how many months of research trying to build my team and figure out my drafts and through the myriad of leagues that I’m in, and it’s cumbersome. There’s a lot to that. And at the end of the day, every league that I draft is essentially stuck in the league that I made. And what Props allows you to do is kind of free that roster up. Once you bring your fantasy roster and sink it to Props, we allow you to play your game against anybody, no matter what league, no matter what format they’re in, and do it for money. And in addition to that, while you have your roster in our system, we can play brand new formats, like allowing you to play head-to-head or play straight best ball with your roster, where before you’d have to create a brand new league to play best ball. Now you just use the roster that you’ve already spent a whole lot of time with.

Joel Cettina

And really that’s what the crux is, is allow anybody to play with any roster using any format that they really want to play in. And that’s the idea behind Props. In addition to that, we have the ability for you to kind of put wagers on it and then other people can come in and say, “All right, well, I think this team’s going to win over this team,” and enter into the challenge as well. So you have other people coming in kind of playing with your game alongside of you while you have the opportunity to not only use your leagues and use your rosters in new ways, but have fun with friends that maybe aren’t in your league or even go against a stranger.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s a really cool idea. Yeah. I think that’s a neat idea, Joel. And so explain to me a little bit how the real money side works, right? Because everybody always loves the money, right? It’s always about the money. So explain to me a little bit about how that works. We’re not talking your standard, let’s think like DraftKings GPPs, where there’s this big price pool. We’re talking me versus you putting in money and let’s go head-to-head type of thing. That’s really how you’re talking here. Correct?

Joel Cettina

Yeah, exactly. There are no sharks on Props. It’s not like we have one person winning a million dollars. You come in and you say, “All right, I want to make a challenge for five bucks.” We also allow people to play for free on Props too, because we don’t want you to… Just because you’re not in a state that can’t take money, we don’t want you not to play. But you come in, put $5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 down on a game. If you make it private, you have to have a link to enter into that challenge. But if you make it public, anybody can go in and back a team that they think is going to be a winner. So prize pools or pots can get substantial if we have a lot of participants, but at the end of the day, it’s more casual. It’s more fun. It adds a side prize to your game and kind of side hustles your own fantasy league.

Ryan Knuppel

Now all the screenshots and everything that you have here are all football. Is it a purely football product or are there other sports that are included?

Joel Cettina

Great question. Today, we are only football. We are focusing on making a great football product, coming out with great formats to use in your leagues and trying to make games that are fair and consistent throughout regardless of anybody’s scoring systems or roster settings or what have you.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, fantasy football is… When you think fantasy, it’s fantasy football. Yeah, sure. There’s other sports that have fantasy, but football is where it’s at as far as the attention goes. So I think getting that right and then as you guys get that right, you never know, I’m sure you guys will start talking about potentially expanding into other sports as things become right for you guys.

Joel Cettina

We would love to be in multiple sports. We think there’s a real avenue for e-sports as well. Really, we’re just going to go where our fans or other users want us to go and kind of just keep on building on that whole aspect of freeing your roster up. And anytime we see a roster, anytime we see a fantasy sports roster, we want to get it into our system and let you play with it however you want.

Ryan Knuppel

I love it. Well, this show typically takes on a little bit of a business aspect. And so I’d love to chat with you a little bit about the business side of it. Maybe you’ve already talked about users and love to get every fantasy lineup into this. What does that user acquisition process look like for you guys? And I’m assuming it’s everything, right? Trying to get users to use it. Where are you guys at in the process? And how’s that going?

Joel Cettina

It’s an ever-evolving process. We launched in the middle of the season. So this season’s goal was really just about throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. We’ve had a lot of fun with creating a… In the season, we created a tournament of champions allowing fantasy analysts to come in and play against each other where before they couldn’t. And we tried to engage our user base by letting them vote on the winning side and things like that. So really it’s about a couple of different things, right? Do people want to follow these challenges? Do they want to engage in the challenges or do they want to be in the challenge? And we’re constantly trying to come up with hypothesis to understand what really draws stickiness.

Joel Cettina

I would say that in terms of what’s been successful so far for us, we’ve seen a lot of people kind of tapping into our website and kind of tapping into things. We have a lot of improvement to do on the funnel, but the top of the funnel’s been pretty good in terms of influencers and other fantasy media channels talking about us, showing the system off and kind of participating. I think it’s really interesting some of the… It’s a really interesting element of the platform that I didn’t think would actually be a thing is this whole idea of fantasy analysts. And right now today, a fantasy analyst has a real one-way communication. They talk at their users. They go back onto Twitter and that’s how they have that two-way contact is usually through Twitter.

Joel Cettina

What’s really interesting though is that you don’t get a lot of transparency into their rosters, into what games they’re playing or how they’re doing for the most part. And we found a real interesting twist here where a fantasy analyst can come in, create an open challenge, which allows anybody to kind of play against them. And their fan base can now go in and play against their favorite analysts. It really opens up a lot of potential fun and really opens up a lot of communication and engagement that these fantasy analysts can do with their communities.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah, because who doesn’t want to play with their favorite analyst, right? I mean, that’s a kind of a dream of a lot of people to be able to, “Man, I wish I could show him what I’m made of,” or whatever. I’m better than that analyst. And so now you got to prove it, right? Throw your line up against them. So that’s really cool.

Joel Cettina

Yep. So we allow for all of that and we’ve seen some real stickiness there. I do think that social media is good, and digital acquisition through CPC has been good for us, but really once you get somebody there, how do you optimize your funnel? How are you optimizing your brand? How do you talk about the things that explain your value props really fast? And we’re still working through all of that. We’re still really new and we’re testing new different ways to speak about it because at the end of the day, what we’re doing is kind of different. No one’s really kind of done this type of thing before, and we don’t know what motivates someone to come in and create a roster yet or put out a challenge.

Joel Cettina

So we’re exploring new ways to tell our story. And at the same time, trying to figure out on the product side, what is not communicating properly? How are flows within it should get easier? How do you create a challenge? Because when there’s so much, is it public? Is it private? How much money is there? Do I allow somebody to spot points? There’s a lot of setting up that needs to get done here. How can we make more automation? How can we make things a little bit easier? And really this season was just about getting an MVP out the door, getting a proof of concept out the door, seeing if people actually want to do this and where an answer was yeah, they do. And how can we now make it more fun? How can we make it more streamlined?

Joel Cettina

How can we make the game in a way where you want to come back again and again and again, and continue to do that? And we’re really going to hone in on a lot of that competition-style features. We’re going to really hone in on creating easy ways for you to get in and out and refer different people into a challenge and entering challenges and making those seamless. Another off-season goal of ours is how do we let our free users play our game in a way where they have skin in the game? And that’s something that we’re currently talking about now.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s really cool. And you really just answered my next question. I was going to lead into what’s coming in the future, but you really just touched on about everything you guys are trying to do. So I’ll have a follow-up question to that. And for people that might be watching this either live or on replay or whatever, how can they help you guys get where you need to be? Right? Is there something that somebody’s watching… What do you guys need from, I don’t know, any level, business level, user level, help level? What are you guys looking for in terms of help?

Joel Cettina

We’re an early stage startup. We need help literally everywhere.

Ryan Knuppel

Where don’t you need help maybe is a better question.

Joel Cettina

Right. So really ideally, we need people to play the game. And so if you like what’s happening here, if this intrigues you at all, go to Props Fantasy and sign up. It’s easy and free to create your account. You don’t have to sync your roster to be a part of the system. So come on in, try the game out. It’s easy to try, fun to play. You don’t have to really… You don’t even have to put in any money if you just want to try it out one time. And really that’s the best way to help us. Also, keep an eye on the website for our careers page. Please we’re always looking for really smart people who are passionate about fantasy sports to come on our team, and we have holes everywhere. We’re an early stage startup. I do about 12 different jobs.

Ryan Knuppel

Wearing a lot of hats. I understand that business model a hundred percent. So propsfantasy.com. I’m assuming you guys have an app as well. Is there app in the app store as well that people can download? I’m assuming. Correct?

Joel Cettina

So we are actually a brand new kind of technology called the progressive web application. You’d don’t need a app store to download our app. So if you go to propsfantasy.com and if you’re on an Apple device, if you click on the share screen and add to your home screen, it’ll download the app for you. And if you’re on Android, there’s a button that says, “Install the app,” and boom, you’re done. So we don’t need to go through an app store or anything like that. We are, in the off season, going to explore more traditional funnels and see how we can get ourselves in some of those more traditional install funnels, but really we’re coming out with a brand new tech. Again we’re trying to change behaviors in so many different ways here. But it’s exciting and it feels like an app. It looks like an app, and the experience that you have is very much app-like.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s really cool. That’s awesome. That’s cool. I love hearing that it’s new technology and that you guys are really on the cutting edge because that’s where you’re supposed to be. So well, Joel, you know what? I don’t want to keep you too long here. I really appreciate your time and I appreciate you kind of educating us on Props Fantasy. I think it’s an awesome idea. I can’t wait to see where it leads. And I know this year was all about proof of concept and kind of making sure that you guys were out there and making sure people liked it. But I think go heading into next year, I’m excited to see where you guys are sitting and how much attention you can get on the app because I think it’ll be a fun time to play next year.

Joel Cettina

For us, our main goal this off season obviously is to start thinking about the things I said before, but really adding new providers. So right now we have ESPN and Yahoo, I mean Sleeper and Yahoo, but this off season, we’re going to look to add ESPN and as many other providers as we possibly can. And what kind of awesome formats can we play? Best ball being one, maybe a guillotine league, maybe who knows? But if you do have an idea, submit it to us and we’re considering all of our format options at this point. So listen, I really appreciate the time. And head to propsfantasy.com, come check us out and we’re going to be doing some cool stuff [crosstalk 00:17:50].

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. We’ll send people over there. We’ll make sure we put the link up, propsfantasy.com. Joel, if they want to get ahold of you, are you on any platforms yourself or just contact the site itself?

Joel Cettina

Contact the site itself. I’m usually the one answering it. So please feel free to let me know what we could be doing better. Feedback is a gift and we want to hear from you guys about what we’re doing today that is not great and what we can do tomorrow to make everything better for you.

Ryan Knuppel

I love it. I love it. Well, Joel, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much for being here. I can’t wait to come back on and have you back on the next year when we have the next iteration of what’s going on here with Props Fantasy.

Joel Cettina

Absolutely. Pleasure speaking with you.

Ryan Knuppel

Take care, Joel. Have a good one.

Joel Cettina

All right.

Ryan Knuppel

All right. That was Joel Cettina of Props Fantasy. Really appreciate him coming on. I think that looks like a really neat product. I can’t wait to get out and try it. I didn’t get to try it this year, but I will make sure to check out the app for next year. We’ll put that in the show notes, propsfantasy.com. We’ll have the full transcribed show notes out there, so you guys can just click the links and go from there. Thank you so much for tuning in. Really appreciate it. As of always, please stay safe. We’ll talk to you soon. If you need anything, I’m Ryan Knuppel, @RyanKnuppel on all the channels or at Knup Sports. Take care and have a great day. Bye-bye.

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