Listen in to episode #56 of the Knup Sports Show where we sit down and talk with Ken Manubay of Picking Duck. Ken talks about his free to play fantasy sportsbook contest app at PickingDuck.com!
Ryan Knuppel: On this episode, we talk with Ken Manubay, the CEO of Picking Duck, about his new fantasy sportsbook contest platform.
Ryan Knuppel: (singing)
Ryan Knuppel: Everywhere you turn, it’s the same old sports talk, the same headlines, the same news, and the same boring information. This podcast is here to change all of that. We bring you hot sports takes, winning sports betting strategy and picks, reliable gaming industry news, and breaking interviews with some of the biggest names in sports business. My name is Ryan Knuppel, and welcome to the Knup Sports Show.
Ryan Knuppel: Hey, hey, hey, welcome to the Knup Sports Show. This is episode number 56. I’m your host Ryan Knuppel. Thank you so much for joining me, like always.
Ryan Knuppel: Today, we have a special guest, Ken Manubay of Picking Duck is with us. Picking Duck, you might ask, “What is that?” Well, he’s going to tell you what it is, and I think you’re going to enjoy the interview I had with him and a little insight into what he’s up to.
Ryan Knuppel: First, I wanted to talk a little bit about the industry and what’s going on in the sports betting space. I mean, a lot of states are coming on board. I think we’re up to 14 or 15 that are in some form legalized now at the time of this episode, as of this recording. It’s pretty exciting. It’s pretty exciting news. Not a lot of excitement for me down here in Florida myself, but I’m excited for the other states and all my sports betting friends in other places. I hope you’re enjoying the fruits of the sports betting coming to your state. I’m sure it’ll come to Florida sooner than later. But I’ve been really enjoying following all this news, all the deals that are going down, all the partnerships, all of the acquisitions, all of the just news announcements of the different operators joining different states and partnering up on different projects, and things of that nature.
Ryan Knuppel: If you haven’t already, follow me out on LinkedIn. It’s Ryan Knuppel, K-N-U-P-P-E-L. I do a lot of talk out there. I do a lot of sharing of different things in the legal United States sports betting space. So I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn, so make sure you get us out there, myself out there as well. That’s more a little disconnected from Knup Sports, more of my personal thoughts. The Knup Sports, a little background, is myself, my dad, and my brother, kind of as a fun little project that we do in the sports space, a lot around sports betting, sports, fantasy sports, whatever we want to talk about, that’s what we do.
Ryan Knuppel: This show in particular, we’ve been doing a lot of interviews, a lot of cool shows. If you’ve noticed, back over the last several months, we’ve talked to a lot of people in this space.
Ryan Knuppel: If you are one of them, if you are someone that wants to come on this show, wants to talk about whatever you have going on or just chat about the industry in general, we know sports betting is hot. We know there’s a lot going on. I would love to chat with you and just sit down and pick your brain and talk and maybe get you some exposure from this show. So that would be cool. Shoot me a message, shoot me a pm, an email, whatever you want, and we will go from there, get you on here.
Ryan Knuppel: So that’s that. That’s a little introduction for today. So without further ado, let’s jump right into this week’s interview, where we have Ken Manubay, the CEO of Picking Duck.
Ryan Knuppel: All right, we’re here today with a very special guest. Today, I have with me Ken Manubay, the CEO of Picking Duck. Ken, are you with me?
Ken Manubay: Yes, I’m here, and thanks for having me, Ryan.
Ryan Knuppel: No problem, Ken. I appreciate you joining me. Hey, it was a pleasure getting to meet you. I just met Ken back, oh I don’t know, it was several months ago now at one of the sports betting conferences and really connected with Ken, got to chat about what he’s doing in this sports betting space.
Ryan Knuppel: I was really intrigued by the website and app that he has created called Picking Duck. So I thought I’d bring on Ken and just kind of talk about what he has going on. So Ken, what is Picking Duck?
Ken Manubay: So Picking Duck, we are a sportsbook contest. We give our players 2000 chips every Monday, and their goal is to grow that chip stack by the end of the week on Sunday. Whoever wins the most chips that week wins the weekly contest.
Ryan Knuppel: Oh, nice.
Ken Manubay: Yeah, so it’s basically just a fake sportsbook. We call it a fantasy sportsbook, because it’s not real money. You’re just playing with chips, and your goal is to just win the most that week.
Ryan Knuppel: That’s what I was going to say. So it is truly free to play, correct?
Ken Manubay: Yeah, exactly. We give you 2000 chips, but you’re able to load more chips into your account if you choose to do so, which you can get free chips by sharing on social media, or you can get some paid chips as well.
Ryan Knuppel: Very nice, very nice. Then do you guys have a … I’m assuming. I mean, everybody loves prizes. I’m assuming you guys have prizes for winners or are at least working on that, correct?
Ken Manubay: Yeah, we actually used to give out $20 Amazon gift cards, which people were loving. But due to funding issues right now, we had to stop that. So right now what we’re doing, is we’re giving out site credits. So that site credit, you’ll be able to use that to load more chips into your account. We pay out the top 10 players right now. We give you $20 site credit if you land in first place, and then I think around $10 for the rest of the players in the top 10.
Ryan Knuppel: Very nice. Well, I mean this free-to-play space is really booming right now. It’s interesting to me to just see all this stuff popping up.
Ryan Knuppel: So let me back up a second and understand a little bit how this started. Give us a little bit of background about you and what your interest is in this space, and kind of how you started with Picking Duck.
Ken Manubay: Yeah, well I was playing a lot with a bunch of my buddies. I just really was trying to find a better way to get sports picks. I used to buy picks from handicappers paying $1000 a week or like buying for the season. I just got burned so many times. They would call me over the phone and sell me onto a package. I really didn’t know their performance, so I was trying to find a better way to look at picks from people who are tracked.
Ken Manubay: So that’s when this idea came to mind, because when our players put in their picks, you could see their entire history of plays. Now, I’m not guessing, “Is this guy really good at what he says, or is he full of shit?” Excuse the language.
Ryan Knuppel: No, you’re good.
Ken Manubay: Okay. Now, I can go onto Picking Duck, I can see exactly what players are playing, I can see their history, and I can see what they have pending. So now I can decide if I want to follow this guy, or I just don’t even want to take those picks. It was something that I created for myself to get better picks.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, so that’s cool. I mean, you really envision your audience doing a few things, right? I mean, they’re enjoying the app, they’re making good picks, they’re maybe winning prizes. But then, there’s going to a majority of these people, or a lot of these people, that are actually using it as a tool to increase their performance betting. I mean, they’re going to find the guys that are hot. They’re going to find the guys that are on the top of the leaderboards, and they’re able to, I guess tail them, right, and play their picks as they get them in. Yeah, that’s a cool way of thinking about that.
Ken Manubay: Yeah. It’s kind of a two-sided app, just like what you said. We have the gaming side with the prizes, so that people are encouraged to play and try and win. Then while on the other side, it’s the guys who are trying to find some of those hot players and follow them and put it in a real sportsbook.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, that’s really cool. Can I ask? How many players do you guys have? Are you having some success gaining traction, getting players in there?
Ken Manubay: Yeah, we have about 3000 registered users. We haven’t done any paid marketing. So we’re still trying to finalize the product. We have a few things coming out, such as a monthly contest. We’re also going to be putting in a subscription model, where you’d need to pay a subscription to view all the picks of everybody.
Ken Manubay: So right now, we’re giving it out for free, because we’re still testing everything out. We’re still testing and seeing how it performs. Then once we figure those things out, then we’ll start putting that subscription model in place.
Ryan Knuppel: From a handicapper side, so like a handicapping service, do you envision handicapping sites or people, people that actually sell their picks? Do you envision them maybe using Picking Duck as … I mean, because there are monitor services and things like that out there that monitor how people do. How do you see Picking Duck fitting into that? Do you actually see handicappers using this to maybe get their name out? Or is that not intent at all for you?
Ken Manubay: Well, actually we started that way. So we started as a sports pick marketplace, where we were trying to have handicappers sell on the platform. They started actually selling just picks only. One of the ones who started with us in the beginning was Kelly in Vegas. She was selling, I think it was her college basketball plays on Picking Duck. Like maybe one play would be $20. Maybe multiple people would buy that pick from her.
Ken Manubay: Now, what happens was, we had a buyer guarantee. If that pick lost, the seller would not get paid, and the buyer got a refund. But if the pick won, then the seller got paid. So it was a great model, but this was before PASPA was stuck down. This was during the time that sports gambling was still not mainstream, right?
Ryan Knuppel: Right.
Ken Manubay: Our payment processor was with Stripe, and they dropped us.
Ryan Knuppel: Wow.
Ken Manubay: Yeah. They accepted us first. They said, “Okay, you’re not gambling, so let’s accept you.” Then we started processing some money, and then they took a closer look at us. They’re like, “You’re too associated with gambling.” So they dropped us. That’s when we kind of shifted and made a pivot towards what we’re doing right now, which is the gaming side and then just doing the subscriptions. We felt that the marketplace, it was a good thing; but we found that if a handicapper, like the handicapper services, if they really wanted to sell, they really had to still continue to market themselves elsewhere. It wasn’t a full all-in-one for the handicappers. We just didn’t feel that it was the best model for us moving forward.
Ryan Knuppel: Got you. Totally makes sense, totally makes sense. Hey, I’m going to shift gears again one more time here. So like I mentioned at the beginning of this, we met in Boston, I believe at the ICE Conference. Tell me a little bit more about that. So you were one of five companies, right, selected as almost like a startup to be featured at this big conference, correct?
Ken Manubay: Yeah, that’s right. We had to submit videos and submit all this information about our startup, where we’re at, where we’re going, what we’re doing, and what we have accomplished so far. I don’t know, out of the numerous companies that applied, we were one of them. They gave us a booth. It was a great opportunity, because getting a booth at those is really, really expensive. So allowing us to present there … So not only did we have a booth, but we got to go up on stage, pitch our idea. So it was a startup pitch contest. That was a lot of fun.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, congratulations, man. That’s no easy feat to kind of get featured at one of those events, especially one of the first few in the North American market. So congratulations on that.
Ken Manubay: Thank you. Yeah, that’s right. It was the first one out here.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, pretty good.
Ken Manubay: It was a good show.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, awesome. Okay, so looking forward, looking forward for Picking Duck. What kind of plans do you have? You have any new features, anything you’re adding, anything you want to tell the audience, I guess, to look forward to as they get started with Picking Duck?
Ken Manubay: Yeah, right now we’re offering just the full game lines, where we’re trying to implement the first half pretty soon. For now, as I mentioned, the subscription model. If you’re getting on there now, it’s a great idea to just be looking at other people’s picks. You can follow players, and then when you follow them … We have an iOS app, not an Android yet, so that’s still in development. But if you have an iOS app, and you follow players, you’ll get notifications when that player makes a pick on his app, because then you know right away if you need to follow that play.
Ken Manubay: We have a subscription model, and then, as I mentioned already, the monthly contest which is coming. Right now, we have a weekly contest, but we’re implementing that monthly contest, because it allows for a better, I guess, money tracking. Because when we had a weekly contest, a lot of people were going all in.
Ryan Knuppel: Got you.
Ken Manubay: But if we have them track every week, then they’re not going to push all in when they don’t need to.
Ryan Knuppel: Got you, got you. Yeah, I mean, I got out there, starting playing. So hey, all you audience, if you’re listening to this, get out there and find Knup, K-N-U-P. You’ll probably see me at the top of the leaderboards. No, I’m just teasing.
Ken Manubay: There you go.
Ryan Knuppel: But no,-
Ken Manubay: There you go.
Ryan Knuppel: … in all honestly, I did get added onto this. I mean, very impressed with the look of the, not only the website, but the app is very easy to use, very smooth. Seems like a very easy process to make your picks. I’m excited to kind of use it more. I mean, this is my first week of really going with it, so I’m hoping-
Ken Manubay: Cool.
Ryan Knuppel: … to kind of start competing. Hopefully some of the listeners … I think that’s a cool thing about something like this, too, is we can kind of have fun as a community or as a group with people you know and almost like bragging rights, right? I mean, I can play against some people I know. So if any of you are listening and can find me, I’d love to compete week to week and go from there. So that’s awesome.
Ken Manubay: Yeah. That’s another thing that we’ve been thinking about creating, allowing it to create smaller groups so that you have your own group leaderboard. People do use it for that, you know?
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, definitely. But I think you do have ways of searching players and things like that.
Ken Manubay: Right.
Ryan Knuppel: I did notice that. So K-N-U-P. Go out and search for me, and we’ll compete.
Ken Manubay: There we go. We get to see your picks now.
Ryan Knuppel: Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. Just remember, sometimes when you’re making picks in a game like this, it’s a little different than what you’d actually bet, which is kind of a weird thing to say.
Ken Manubay: Yeah, yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: I don’t know. It’s just a different thought process.
Ken Manubay: It is, it is.
Ryan Knuppel: I don’t know that it should be or not, but it was different from [crosstalk 00:16:09] my picks.
Ken Manubay: Yeah, this is a game play versus real life. It’s real money. There is a difference.
Ryan Knuppel: It was way easier for me to put 200 credits on something, than to put $200 on a big underdog.
Ken Manubay: Exactly, yeah. But that’s one of the things about it, too. You can kind of test your new strategies.
Ryan Knuppel: Sure, yeah, kind of test some of the stuff and see how it goes. Then kick yourself in the butt later if it was profitable, and you didn’t actually bet it.
Ken Manubay: Exactly, yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: Well, awesome. Well, cool. Well, any last words for our audience here, Ken, before we let you go?
Ken Manubay: No, just check out-
Ryan Knuppel: How can we find you, I guess?
Ken Manubay: … the website, Picking Duck.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, how can they find you guys?
Ken Manubay: Yeah, pickingduck.com is the website. We have our iOS app, Picking Duck. Then on Facebook, we are Picking Duck Sports. Then on IG, Picking Duck Sports as well. Look us up, and then we give out a lot of good content on our social media, giving stuff about learning how to bet and talking about a lot of things in the sports betting world, too.
Ryan Knuppel: Well, very cool. I wish you all the success in the world, and I really hope we can meet up again. Hopefully at one of the next conferences, we can meet again.
Ken Manubay: Yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: It was awesome the first time, and hopefully we can do that again.
Ken Manubay: Sounds good, Ryan. Appreciate it.
Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. Well, thanks everybody for listening. This is Ken Manubay, CEO of Picking Duck. Go check it out. Check out the website. Check out the app, and let’s compete out there and have some fun. So thanks again, Ken. Have a great day.
Ken Manubay: Thank you.
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