Listen and watch as John Latella of Legacy Fantasy Sports talks about his unique product focusing on the “legends” within fantasy sports.

Ryan Knuppel

Hey, what’s going on everybody. Ryan Knuppel here. Knup Sports Show, episode 166. Hope everybody is doing well today. Sorry if my voice seems a little bit scratchy. I was just getting back from the iGaming Next conference in New York City. It was amazing to connect with so many people in this industry, so many business leaders and just people just excited about the gaming sports betting space. So if we [inaudible 00:00:32] man, I’m super excited to have met you. If not, and I wish we would’ve and next time we will, for sure. So that’s my little quick intro today. We have another awesome guest with us today and I’m going to jump right in and bring John Latella, the co-founder of Legacy Fantasy Sports. John, how you doing today, buddy?

John Latella

I’m good, Ryan, how you doing?

Ryan Knuppel

I’m doing great, man. I’m doing good. Like I said, voice a little scratchy, but I’m fighting through that and drinking a lot of water. But all is good down here in Florida. How’s everything up where you’re at?

John Latella

It’s good. We’re in Michigan, just outside of Detroit. We finally have some sun and the weather is above 60, so cannot complain. [inaudible 00:01:11]. I know.

Ryan Knuppel

Take your wins when you can get them, right?

John Latella

100%, especially around here.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s awesome. That’s cool. Well cool, John. Well, let’s jump right in. I want to learn a little bit about yourself before we dive into Legacy Fantasy Sports and kind of what you guys are all about. Tell me a little bit about you and your background to get you to where you are today.

John Latella

Sure. So I’m an attorney by trade, shocking. They still do exist. Practiced law for a very short period of time after I got out of law school. And then really my family, as well as myself are more entrepreneurial than we are in terms of essentially flogging down or working at a law firm. So we actually, I’m the former CEO, and this is going to shock you, of the largest manufacturer of all natural salsa, hummus dips, tortilla chips in North America, which was in-

Ryan Knuppel

Speaking my language.

John Latella

I know. We were in Ferndale, Michigan. People were shocked that we weren’t in Texas or down in New Mexico, but it came out of Michigan. So my family started that business and we sold. Like I said, I was CEO of that business and we sold to the Campbell Soup Company in 2015.

Ryan Knuppel

Congrats on that. That’s super awesome. That’s not always the career path I hear in the iGaming and the sports betting fantasy sports space. That’s not always where they begin, but that’s awesome.

John Latella

No, not at all. And quite frankly, so if you look at that and after the sale, that has helped me facilitate getting into what I enjoy more, which obviously would be sports and gaming and the rest of things like that. So it’s been very good. I’ve spent some time consulting, and then really once you have that entrepreneurial bug, as you know and you kind of, you plug away and keep working on new things, which brought us to legacy fantasy sports.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. That’s awesome. I’m sure you have so many great business experiences and lessons learned and just, there’s so much to be said for that type of an experience and then running to jump into your own thing and get started on something. Man, you’re like a leg up on everyone else that kind of gets to start. So congrats on that. Let’s talk a little bit about Legacy Fantasy Sports. So give us the high level picture of what you guys are doing.

John Latella

Sure. So Legacy Fantasy Sports was born, again, as I said, I’m an attorney. A good friend of mine as well, Grady Tombs, who’s our other co-founder, he’s an attorney as well. The idea came from him, the broad level idea, of creating or being able to play fantasy sports with historical or retired players. A player retires, he’s injured or for whatever reason just doesn’t play anymore, they kind of fade into existence and nobody use uses them anymore. So that, the concept alone combined obviously with when the pandemic hit, he and I both kind of looked at it and said you know something? We probably have a very viable thing here. So we started doing a little bit of research, flew out to Chicago to meet with Stats Perform LLC, who was sitting on all this historical data that quite frankly other than maybe being used in a broadcast on ESPN or one of the other networks, really wasn’t being utilized.

John Latella

So that was kind of our first thing as let’s see if this data and what exists. And then can we turn this into an actual product that will do what we hope it will do? And so then obviously meeting with the development team and getting a good development team on board, and then kind of just went with it. We kind of jumped in with both feet and there we go. So high level, what do we have? We have the first 24/7, 365 day per year fantasy sports platform that is not dependent upon live sporting events. That’s the cliff note version

Ryan Knuppel

That is so unique. That is really cool. A lot of times you hear kind of the same thing over and over. And that’s such a neat angle on fantasy sports to kind of take some of the legacy players and the legacy people that you grew up loving and still being able to play around it. So where are you guys at in that cycle? Have you developed the app? Is it live? Is it launched? Is it beta? Where are you guys at?

John Latella

No, so the app itself is fully complete. It’s in the Apple iOS store, it’s in the Google Play store, you can download it now. As I said, so essentially there’s three ways you can play the game. You have, the platform itself is free. So baseball right now is live going on. You can play baseball for free, just like you would on any other platform where you can pick players of today. Their play by play stats will be implemented, and you get points based on whatever they do. Or you can play just a legacy game, so you can play, you said you’re from Chicago, I believe originally.

Ryan Knuppel

Originally, yeah.

John Latella

So our stats for baseball go back to 1974. So you could pick your favorite players from the Cubs and White Sox from all those years. And we could play them against the 84 Tigers in a legacy game. Or which is really super cool, you can play both what is called a hybrid contest where you can have live players.

Ryan Knuppel

Oh my.

John Latella

So from games that are happening today, and then you could input legacy players into your lineup as well. So Derek Jeter is still on the table, alex Rodriguez.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s cool.

John Latella

Yeah. So it’s very cool.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s super cool. And let me get one thing straight though. I don’t have any favorite players from the Cubs ever. I’m not a Cub fan. That sentence doesn’t compute with me.

John Latella

Okay.

Ryan Knuppel

But I get what you’re saying. So well, that’s awesome. That’s very cool. So what about users? Are you guys seeing traction? Are you seeing people playing and enjoying this from the beginning here?

John Latella

So we are, so it’s a different concept. We made a conscious decision right off the bat to not, we didn’t really want to compete with the Fan Duals and the Draft Kings, and we didn’t want to go the gaming and or sports betting route. And a couple reasons for that. One, we kind of wanted to bypass all the regulation and all the different things that each state has with regards to that. So we decided to launch it as a subscription model. So effectively, the platform is free if you want to play live sports. And if you want to unlock the legacy athletes or the legacy to use them in your lineups or to play all year round, that’s 2.99 a month.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s cool.

John Latella

Yeah, and the reason we did that is we wanted to get back to … One of the other things, when you, take the App Store, for example. You go there, you want to download the app. Most of them are 17 plus or 18 plus. Ours is 12 plus. We wanted to open something up and really so were families and kids, and quite frankly, leagues, different leagues, whether it’s teams, whether it’s down to the individual players themselves, or the actual leagues themselves, would feel comfortable knowing that there isn’t a gaming or gambling aspect with regards to it. So essentially opened up our market, so we’re really focusing on kids. Kids a big part of it, and really every user.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. That’s really cool. I would’ve actually thought maybe you’re getting the, I’m going to call it for lack of better words, the older generation of fantasy sports people who, the pure fantasy sports people who love the way it used to be. I don’t know, what’s your audience there? Are you getting people all over the age spectrum, I’m assuming?

John Latella

We are. And it’s interesting. I can give you a stat with regards to that. It’s funny that 79% of all football fans believe that retired players are a huge part of pop culture. So I think what, what you’re saying is directly relevant. But yeah, we’re seeing kind of right now, so we technically just launched April 12th. So we haven’t really gotten to the point where we’ve inundated the market yet with marketing and ads and different things. So it’s kind of a broad base right now. Yeah. We’re trying to hone in on really who those users are going to be. But I think, like I said, the nice thing about it is we’re not really pigeonholing ourselves into going specifically after one type or another, which I think is huge too.

Ryan Knuppel

One thing that comes to mind through this, and this is a weird question, but I’m curious what your thoughts on it are, there’s always these debates in sports about like the goats and like who’s better from this generation versus this generation. Is MJ as good as LeBron, and how do you weigh that because they’re different generations? Is there like anything that this does to help those arguments or not really?

John Latella

No, 100%, actually. And I’ll give you a perfect example on that. So we are a patent pending innovation. Hopefully we’re going to have our patent here soon. In the cliff notes version of our patent, what we’ve patented is the actual extraction of a player, so any given player’s historical play by play data, and then inputting it into a daily fantasy sports platform. So we are creating historical game feeds based on a player’s real life statistics. So we are not a simulation. We’re not making stats up based on what this guy did. And I’ll give you the perfect example. I believe you played basketball, which I did.

Ryan Knuppel

Yep.

John Latella

In school as well. And the NBA, right before the all-star game did their 75th anniversary. And they had a group of guys that were drafting teams based on the 75th best player.

Ryan Knuppel

Absolutely.

John Latella

Only weird thing with that was Dominique Wilkins drafted himself number one. But it was kind of anti-climatic in the sense that when they were done, they just went back to it and they said, oh, so and so drafted a great team. Our platform really would’ve proven what they were trying to do out, because what happens is by putting, you’re playing those players or whatever players, it’s actually pulling their historical play by play data. Not a game, actual individual plays from their career.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s amazing.

John Latella

So you’re getting a full and accurate representation of who that player was over their career.

Ryan Knuppel

I love that. I love that. That’s really cool. It looks like you guys are moving into or going to be moving into several other sports as well, correct? I know currently of started with MLB, NFL, I’m assuming basketball is either here or close to being here. But what other sports are you guys looking to move into? I know you list some on your website, but I’m curious.

John Latella

Yeah. So NBA is actually huge. So NBA’s live on the platform, you can play with that. We just haven’t unlocked the legacy athletes yet. The next big market that we’re definitely going to be going into that we’re in development right now, and it’s because it’s such a huge, user base, is cricket. Whether or not, I’m sure most listeners probably know this, but India just surpassed a hundred million daily fantasy and fantasy sports users. Cricket is absolutely enormous. Cricket alone has 2.5 billion fans out there in the universe. And it’s cool, so when you look at the IPL, the cricket league, based on the way they’re currently sitting, they currently only have about 62 days of live games.

Ryan Knuppel

Okay.

John Latella

Of cricket. So we theoretically are offering another 292 or 290, whatever the math is, in that ballpark of games. And same thing with NFL. Take the NFL, for example. There’s currently only 77 actual live game days that any of these other platforms can monetize daily fantasy sports or traditional fantasy sports. We take the rest of that year, 365 days, and you can be playing or have some type of contest going.

Ryan Knuppel

That’s cool. That’s awesome. And then I’m assuming soccer, hockey, boxing, golf. I think the sky’s the limit because you can play fantasy sports around any sport. And so once you guys start getting the data piece in place and all of the above, I’m assuming you’ll be launching into a bunch of different areas.

John Latella

Yeah. The only thing that restricts us, quite frankly, is how far back the historical play by play data goes. And as we grow, quite frankly, take a Michael Jordan or somebody, for example, that’s one of the innovations we hope to introduce to everybody is at that point in time, I can go find somebody that can mine Michael Jordan’s individual play by play data, and then unlock certain players. So there’s a pretty cool gamification and almost a video game aspect to it as well. And so, very cool.

Ryan Knuppel

I love that. That’s cool. Let’s shift focus here just a little bit, because with your vast business experience and coming from being a CEO of a major company that exited and all the above, everybody probably thinks man, starting something like this has got to be easy for a guy like yourself. Give me just maybe some challenges that you guys have faced going from that space to now entrepreneurial, new business, trying to launch in a new industry. What are some of the biggest challenges you guys have faced jumping in? Because I know it’s not always just as easy as it can be. There’s always challenges. Give me one or two that you really stood out for you guys.

John Latella

No, at its simplest terms, the biggest challenge always is patience. Having patience to believe in what direction you’re going and the things that you’re doing. We kind of got over that first hump by one, we had the concept, and then it was taking that concept and actually turning it into a tangible product. And then obviously once we had that, fundraising, I’m very blessed with having an exit, but in the same token, I do have a wife and kids and other things. So you have to temper that with how risk averse or risky you’re willing to be. So one of the big things is always making sure that you budget correctly and have a good team in place that shares your vision, and knows and knows what direction that you’re going.

John Latella

And then communicating. Communication’s always another big challenge. So with us, we’re dealing with stats performed, one level of our business deals with that. The other level of the business obviously deals with working with a development team and having our thoughts, and them taking our thoughts and turning it into a viable product. And then, like I said, I’m going to go back to what I started with, it’s patience. Now it’s a different stress. We’ve got the product, we know it works, we’re excited about it. Now it’s getting other people to have that same passion and get excited and get users.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. And that’s where I was actually, the next question I was going to ask is talk about that challenge because there’s so many people in this space right now that are fighting for these users. The user acquisition, it’s a real thing and it’s really not easy to attack. Speak a little bit about you guys’ thoughts on user acquisition and how you’re going about that.

John Latella

So one, I think that the key with that is, and it goes back to what I originally said, we decided not to go the gambling and or quote unquote sports betting route like the Fan Duel Draft Kings and some of these other platforms. The reason we made that decision is because we knew our user acquisition costs would be much lower. And quite frankly, I look at us as maybe being a target of one of these companies in terms of an acquisition or something, because we’re able to get out to a much broader audience without having to worry about the regulation and stuff. And our platform too, one of the things we’ve built into it is the ability for ad revenue. And I know one of the things that we’re opening up, if you take certain companies, just won’t advertise. The Nikes, the Under Armours, Proctors, and some of the food companies, whatnot, they’re looking for places that they can put their ad revenue dollars.And in a lot of instances they’re hesitant to advertise or do that on the gaming. Just like they would with alcohol companies and stuff.

Ryan Knuppel

Absolutely.

John Latella

They stay away from it a little bit. So we’re hoping, and we’re proving it out. And then with being a subscription model too, it’s new essentially to this area. So we’re going to have some growing pains, I’m sure of it. But in the same token, we take the data points and things that we learn and grow from there and go from there.

Ryan Knuppel

Awesome. Awesome. Well, John, I know you’re a busy guy. One or two final questions here, and we’ll get you off the hook. What can people watching this, there may be other business people watching, there may just be people interested in the product. What can they do to help you? What are you looking for? Any ask of our audience or of myself while you’re on here?

John Latella

Yeah, like any other business that I’ve ever been involved with, please download the app. Go on there, there is promo if someone downloads it, so you don’t even have to pay for it. You don’t even have to pay for the subscription to use the legacy players right off the bat. But I’m like anybody else man, I want criticism, whether that’s good and bad, because it’s the only way we’re going to grow and it’s going to make us better. And or any innovations. If anybody thinks like, hey, this is really cool, but it’d be cool if it’s this here or that here, I’m open to all suggestions. I just want to get people on there and using it and playing

Ryan Knuppel

Awesome. And where is the best place to grab it? I know you guys have legacyfantasysports.com. Are you guys out in the app stores as well?

John Latella

Yep. So we are in the Apple App Store and we are in the Google Play store, legacyfantasysports.com. Pretty simple to find it. There is the QR code on the way if you go to the webpage, the webpage is more so just a direction to direct you to the either Apple or to Google to download the app. But no, it’s very easy to find it out there if they want to find it.

Ryan Knuppel

Yeah. We’ll definitely, we’ll put all those links actually in the show notes as well so people can click and go and download and make it happen. Hey, I see a little Sparty in your background. Give me that little Sparty action in the background. Did you attend Michigan State?

John Latella

Law school. So I went there, I was the first law school class that actually graduated on Michigan State’s campus.

Ryan Knuppel

Amazing. Awesome. So loyal to the Sparty nation.

John Latella

Yeah.

Ryan Knuppel

With a hesitancy, I see that hesitancy. Yeah.

John Latella

Well, there’s a …

Ryan Knuppel

[inaudible 00:20:18].

John Latella

There’s a Michigan football helmet up there too so I give like-

Ryan Knuppel

Okay. So, okay.

John Latella

I spread the love around. And you grow up in suburban Detroit, you kind of …

Ryan Knuppel

Nothing wrong with that.

John Latella

I’ll get crucified for this, but I do root for both teams. I hate to say it.

Ryan Knuppel

There’s really nothing wrong with that. It’s sports and we all love just good sports. So cool. I really appreciate your time. Any last words? Anything we missed?

John Latella

No Ryan, I appreciate you having me on you so much. Everybody should watch your podcast too.

Ryan Knuppel

Oh, thank you for the quick plug there, really appreciate you being on. Hey, if I can do anything for you, let me know. But thanks for sharing everything and congrats on all the success you’ve had in business. I had no doubt Legacy Fantasy Sports is going to be a hit in this space and I’m excited to see where it goes. And I’m going to get out there and play myself and maybe use the old Chicago Bulls teams that I grew up loving and do some things with that. That’d be kind of fun.

John Latella

No, and that’s what it’s meant to be. It’s meant to be fun and meant to get people on there and interacting. And just having fun and some friendly bet. You can friendly bet with your friends offline.

Ryan Knuppel

There you go. All right, John, until next time, we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you my friend.

John Latella

Thanks Ryan. Take care.

Ryan Knuppel

Bye bye. All right. That was John Latella, Legacy Fantasy Sports. Man, lots of cool things going on there, really neat idea. Something I’m really intrigued in checking out and hopefully you guys are as well. I think it’s a cool idea and has some legs in this space. So let’s go out, download the app, let’s check it out. We wish John all the success in the world, him and his co-founder and what they’re doing there. So if you guys need anything, I’m Ryan Knuppel at K N U P, Knupp everywhere. Just reach out to me on LinkedIn or wherever you can. Appreciate your time. I know you could be anywhere listening, watching whatever show you want, but you’re spending some time here with us, so really appreciate that. If you need anything, talk to you soon. Until then stay safe. Bye.

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