Listen in as the CEO of Statement Games, Marc Saulino, joins the show to discuss how his new free to play platform came about. Marc also talks a bit about his challenges and where StatementGames is headed in the future. Finally, listen all the way to the end for a chance to win a cool $1,000!

Video from Marc Saulino Interview

Show notes from Marc Saulino Interview

Ryan Knuppel: Alright Welcome back to another new episode of the new sports show; I’m your host Ryan Knuppel. Thank you so much for tuning in to give us a little bit of your time each and every time. We are in crazy times right now everybody is cooped up in their house, in their home, dying for those sports to come back. We cannot wait for sports to come back. I know one guy on the line with me here that is dying for sports to come back as well: Marc Saulino the CEO of Statement Games. Marc are you with me

Marc Saulino: Hey how’s it going Ryan thanks for having me, appreciate your time

Ryan: Hey appreciate you giving us some time. Along those sentiments, are you dying for sports to come back, how are you holding up without sports man?

Marc: You know what, I mean it was really crazy when it first started happening, you just don’t know what youre gonna do with yourself, and then as the weeks progress here you’re like alright you know maybe… maybe it’s not that bad. You’re finding different things, whether it’s netflix or other things to kinda like get involved with here, but now that you’re… I don’t know two months into the process.. You’re like alright enough’s enough already man. Give me games, there’s only so much wrestling and ufc and you know stuff that you can watch. I mean golf was great to see what finally came back here but I guess in terms of how I’m holding up here I kinda had enough. I’m ready… I’m ready for a game.

Ryan: Yeah cause you’re up there in NY, it’s been taken pretty seriously there in NY not that it hasn’t in other places in the word but I mean i know NY here in the United States has been one of those areas that was hit the heaviest and so I’m assuming you’ve been pretty much quarantined up there huh?

Marc: Yes, I guess you can say you know we’ve been quarantined although running a startup here i guess we’ve become very comfortable with the concept of working from home over the course of the past 2 years. So you really can’t do any of the face to face stuff that you’re typically doing on a week in week out basis, but other than that it’s pretty much business as usual for us but it is very eerie when you see colleague, friends, associates and things like that and you get a picture of second avenue and manhattan and it’s like a ghost town, its eerie to see things like that.

Ryan: Eerie —  that’s a good word. Really unfathomable, something I never even imagined could happen and here we are where it’s the reality.

Marc: Exactly. Yup.

Ryan: Alright let’s start with what statement games is, give the audience a little bit i mean i obviously know we had a conversation.., great conversation a few weeks ago or a month ago so give the audience the thousand foot view of what Statement Games is.

Marc: Yeah I’ll give you the backdrop of the company and kinda like tell from the hat and sweatshirt and things like that. I grew up here in Long Island and I had one younger brother, and I grew up in a very big sports oriented family. And in the household that I was raised in, my dad raised my brother and I to literally look at and root for nothing but the New York Yankees, the New York Giants, the New York Knicks, and the New York Rangers. And that was it. It was one of those things when football came up on sunday if the giant game wasn’t on, then there was nothing on.

Ryan: That was it.

Marc: That was it. So we couldn’t sell mom some monsters and it kinda backfired on him a little bit here, so every single year we used to make a trip up to the boston area, specifically for thanksgiving. Our aunt and uncle lived up there in the Boston area. We go up there every single year for Thanksgiving, and my dads the type of guy where we’re on thanksgiving day and he’s not interested in doing errands, he doesn’t want to cook, he just wants to watch his football games and that’s it. He doesn’t want to be bothered, and when you have a wife and a house full of people, two small kids, that’s a pretty difficult thing to do. So in an effort to get everybody engaged and watch what was literally the Detroit Lions game which me and my brother had no interest in doing because it wasn’t the Giants, he created this game. So after breakfast on Thanksgiving morning he’d start pulling family members into the corner of the room, and he’d whip out a sheet of paper, and start literally asking me questions about the Lions and whoever they were playing that day. He’d be like “Alright Barry Sanders over/under 100 yards rushing? Herman Moore over/under 7.5 receptions for the game?” I remember the first time we played, the Lions were playing the Bears and Jim Hall was the QB of the Bears.

Ryan: Yeah.

Marc: So would Jim Hall go over/under 250 yards passing? He went through his sheet, you’d answer all his questions, you threw in a buck, and at one point my aunt was referring to this as the football bingo game.

Ryan: Yeah, right.

Marc: But the whole family would participate in it, as the Lions game… Now everyone would shut up cause we’re locked in to — really the Lions were never very good — a meaningless football game. So we would watch this game for a total of… i think there was like no more than 15 bucks at one particular point riding on the line here. And as events and things took place here you would get points for every question you answered that became correct. The person or the family member at the end of the Lions game who had the most questions right won the pot. So in a very… to shorten up the story a little bit… Statement Games is just a game. We’ve created a gaming platform that’s got a little bit of a different twist on fantasy sports. It’s a family originated concept. We create games around specific sporting events, for example: the Lions vs the Bears. The platform will present you with a list of props, so hence the company name statements, to that specific sporting event. Anywhere between I’d say 50 and 60 of them. Your job is to look at the list and the various different categories and how they’re broken down, and select ten of them. You’re gonna rank them in order of confidence from 10 to 1, so as that event plays out, if your #10 pick becomes correct you get 10 points. If 9 through 1 are incorrect, welp, now you just have a total of 10 points. You’re playing in a league of anywhere between 8 and 12 people. Just like traditional, annual fantasy sports. And the person with the most points from correct picks at the end of that game wins. It’s positioned as a free to play game, the community competes for statement game coins, which are credits. We are attracting die hard fans as well as the casual fans, but the overall objective of any member of the platform is to acquire a coin balance of as many coins as they possibly can, and when they’re ready we have a whole rewards system. The rewards system is powered by anywhere from 85 to 100 different retailers. Anything from Starbucks to Dunkin Donuts, Nike, Under Armour, NFL Shops, Fanatics, Stubhub. You exchange your coins for cash gift cards.

Ryan: Cool.

Marc: So in a nutshell, that’s who we are and that’s kind of like what we do. We’re just a casual game and we’ve got a different take on fantasy sports.

Ryan: Well that’s a really cool… Well not only a really cool game but a really cool story that goes along with it and I think it really hits home and it’s a neat thing to see. This is an off the wall question but is your dad still involved? I mean is he proud that hey this is my idea at the core of it.

Marc: Hey you know what for the past 25 years, we’ve been playing this game every single year, so almost from a standpoint of you know I have aunts that log into the platform and create private tournaments all the time, and we just go through the process that we’ve gone through for the past 25 years except it’s a little more digital and a little bit more automated.

Ryan: Insane thing, yeah.

Marc: The process is the same, so yeah, hey, I guess he’s pretty proud of… I hope he is… but yeah we’re at today is literally from a concept that he came up with 25 years ago. Not necessarily because he was coming up with this big business idea.

Ryan: No, right.

Marc: But literally just to shut a couple kids up and let the young boys watch football.

Ryan: And that’s where I think I’m so intrigued by this right, because most of these types of things start out of that “oh man this is a 1 in a million idea and we’re going to get rich and all of this” and you had a completely different path going at this where it was like, “hey we got this thing and we can scale this down for other people to enjoy” and now you’re just kinda getting into the business side of it. You knew the business piece was there, right, and you knew this was an opportunity, but now that you have an awesome product and you have a user base and people using it. Now it’s “how do we scale the business?” Which is a whole other animal and whole other piece in this world, so tell us a little bit about the growth you’ve seen and the userbase you have and are you guys seeing any kind of growth? Obviously this is pre-sports shutdown —  tell us about the growth you were seeing. I know there’s nobody making sports statements right now but prior to that tell us about your user base.

Marc: It’s pretty interesting, just touching upon the business concept of things here, I definitely saw an increase in traffic as well as users as I compared numbers between March vs April, so in a way the shutdown has helped us a little bit here, so while all this stuff has been going on here we have been running wrestling games, ufc games, so its still a handful of games that were running which is attracting a nice audience but were really in a correlation from a business perspective was really going back to the first game… it was complete luck but I know I was pissed because i can remember my brother won that first game that we played.

Ryan: You’re competitive.

Marc: Now my mother always got a kick out of this because we were watching this game and you start looking at different things here and this is where my dad got pissed. About two weeks later where me and my brother are making our christmas list and handing it to our mom and at the top of this list was a barry sanders jersey. Now in this household when you’re giants and that’s it —  this was a big deal. So in a way, from a business perspective, even at an early age here, I was showing “you know what if you put together concepts and strategies on delivering value first and engaging people, making it easy and creating a fun experience — there’s a psychological shift that takes place in the back of your mind where you become more receptive or less receptive depending on your experience to a variety of different product offers, experiences, so on and so forth.” So it’s those very early lessons from a business perspective that i’ve tried bringing forward in the statement games concept. “Hey Ryan i’ve seen you play in 8 Miami dolphins games in the past 3 months here so I’ve got 2 jerseys for 25 percent off, do you want to go ahead and buy it?” So we kind of feel that when you have the ability to drive an experience and have a business on the backend that captures data i can start having direct social conversations with my user base and try and deliver a product or a service that speaks directly to their interest. That’s a big part of the business strategy on the backend, as of right now, hey you know what we’re still a startup and i still operate on a marketing budget of for better or worse, 0. You know how that is here but there’s probably about 15,000 people within our database — some have literally just played the superbowl every year and then you have the more serious people that are literally playing every single game every single day so we have a very diverse and mixed users and yeah i was definitely a little upset because when you spend time and you have opening day baseball, hockey playoffs, nba playoffs etc. it’s a big traffic driving aspect of what we’re doing so you know especially now memorial day weekend with barbeques and things like that, these types of game is what we’re seeing privately with people creating little groups whether it’s just a group of people at a bar or if you’re sitting in the backyard patio where you’re not locked in to everything that’s going on across every sports league here, but maybe you got the yankee game playing on the radio, sitting at the pool with a bunch of people and you know what ‘lets play this game’.

Ryan: Yeah, yeah.

Marc: It’s things like that and opportunities that were missing out on right but its also giving us a big opportunity from a perspective of, idk your opinion but i just don’t see any top sports taking place this year with fans in arenas and in buildings so its products like this that can really fill that void of engagement, hey you know we’re not going to the arena and i can’t round up 3 of my buddies and go to a baseball game or hockey game or something like that so that experience of buying a beer at a concession stand with a buddy or tailgating before a game i just dont see a lot of those opportunities to take place and where products like these can potentially filla  little bit of that void

Ryan: So how do these questions get derived? Is that something that you guys do individually? Is it automated? Can users create their own questions, or statements I guess? Give me a little but of, I guess this is a little insider idea of how you guys work. I’m just curious about how these questions are derived. Is it you writing statements for every game or something?

Marc: There’s kind of a pattern so for example let’s just use football as a base here. So there will be a general statement of quarterback, whoever the starting qb is, over/under x amount of yards. Now the yard total and the name of the qb depends on kind of like who the team is and what their statistical and historical performance suggests.

Ryan: got it, so kind of automated.

Marc: But the statement is the same, we’re not sitting down and creating new ones for every game.

Ryan: Yeah got it. Like random stuff for every game, I mean wow you’re going to have your hands full in July when things come back.

Marc: Hey look as you know there’s a lot of different services that are out there without kind of giving away the secret sauce where so to speak ill just say that statistically players usually play to the back of their baseball card.

Ryan: Yeah yeah for sure for sure. Well that’s awesome man. Well give me some of the biggest struggles you’ve had, so people listening to this you know sports betting fans, business minds, what’s one of the biggest struggles or problem or issue and maybe u can give back to the community a little bit im curious if you have anything at the top of your mind that is a struggle or problem in the process of creating this, put u on the spot a bit

Marc: I mean, look —  as a startup, I’m trying to think of something that’s a little different cause as you embark upon this you need capital just to get a dead tree off the ground here so to speak. I found… this is just my experience, again we feel that we came up with this system or process that’s a little but different, so we actually spent a lot of time on intellectual property even before we wrote a line of code or anything like that.

Ryan: Wow.

Marc: So i would say that, and the advice I would give with anybody with a different idea or different spin on things or if you come up with a better mousetrap, i would make the strong recommendation to sit down and think up with an intellectual property lawyer first and just to kind of like see hey you know what if i develop something like this its not like ur looking to patent a website, that’s not gonna happen, but if there’s a different kind of system or intellectual property that u can develop u want to make sure that its protected or maybe it has the ability to be protected cause we found that hey u know were just not in the position to where were following in the same ex

act suits of some of our competitors and where we can go out and raise a bunch of money — that’s jus

t not a reality for us. We don’t have Stanford MBA’s or spent the last 10 years working at Google so we have to be a little bit more creative as we embark on this venture. So yeah i would say protect your concepts as much as possible and create some of those core assets before you even deploy a digital product cause at least u have something tha

t’s tangible and can be counted as an asset so when u go and actually have conversations with angel investors or family and friends and things like that about investment opportunities at least u have something tangible that u can speak to opposed to saying hey i got this cool idea but i can’t show u anything. Just things like that is what I would actually say.

Ryan: That’s a great answer. I mean it’s an answer that maybe everybody wasn’t expecting to hear and I think that’s an honest and great answer. I appreciate you giving us all a little bit of your thoughts on that.

 

Marc: I can run through the challenges too.

Ryan: I know we don’t need the laundry list of business issues. No, I definitely appreciate that, this is Marc Saulino CEO of Statement Games. Hey Marc what is coming up for you guys, what’s in the pipeline? I know you guys are itching to get sports back and back going on… do you guys have enhancements? I mean, what’s next? Customer acquisition? Is that what it’s all about for you right now? What’s next for statement games?

Marc: There’s definitely a couple cool things that came up here. Something that we’re testing but it’s pretty interesting so we’re actually gonna start streaming some esports games on the platform and we’re actually creating tournaments around. you know, that game. So for example, over the course of the next week here every thursday night as well as saturday afternoon there’ll be nba2k games that stream off the statement games platform and there’ll be games that you could play that complement the stream. So that’s pretty exciting and as we start inching closer to june 11th weekly golf. It’s something we’ve tested out and tried out before in the past but we’re now ready to take that step where we’re gonna be running tournament golf pga tour golf tournaments on the core statement games platform moving forward. Sot hats gonna complement the basketball, hockey, baseball, combat sports games that were running so it’s something that i’m looking forward to, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from customers and i never knew there were that many golf fans that were out there but they were a very avid and passionate group and hey if u want to make picks whether it’s phil mickselson will have over or under 15 birdies over the course of the tournament —  well god bless you, let’s go for it.

Ryan: It’s so ironic and funny to me just where we’re at —  where we’re at as a world. I mean we have games about games about games. Right? I mean we’re talking an esport game that is mimicking the real game and now we’re gonna have games that are on the other side of that game and I just find it so awesome that we’re trying to have all these different ways to be engaged and be a part of it and included in it. i mean esports does that, right? It fills this void of no real sports so we’re gonna do this virtually in an esports type way and now building fantasy sports and statement type stuff into the esports side, it’s like these layers and it just blows my mind a little but when you really step back. I mean 20 years ago —  none of that. O mean we had the game and that’s it.

Marc: That’s it.

Ryan: We had the game, that’s it.

Marc: A little further down the pipeline but it is coming and it’s something that I’m interested to see how it plays out, as Anne said, the games that we power you’re playing from anywhere to 8-12 people.

Ryan: Yeah.

Marc: What we’re actually doing so think of those games you’re playing in as chat rooms or virtual parking lots or virtual bars, so we’re kinda looking to develop that experience where it’s almost like what we’re doing right now here. you have the ability to play games and you join a virtual bar with 6 or 7 or 8 other people where you have the opportunity to talk sports and banter back and forth on what picks they’ve made and what they like and what they don’t like here and how that can transition to other fantasy sports products or real money gaming services and things like that. It’s really again that engagement and that experience concept and things that are on our roadmap and down the line from a products perspective.

Ryan: Well very, very, very cool, man I really appreciate the time. I don’t wanna keep you all day, I know you’re a busy man running a business and trying to keep things afloat during this crazy time. So tell the audience about how they can get a hold of you or if they want to learn more about statement games in general —  where or how they would contact somebody.

Marc: Yeah, sure. So let’s see here, so pretty much from a social media perspective statement games can be found at the call symbol @statementgames so whether its instagram, twitter or facebook you’re not gonna find us there. The product itself as i mentioned this is a free to play game. All you need is a valid facebook or google account or valid email address to get into the platform and start playing games. That’s accessible on statementgames.com. www.statementgames.com. There’s also apps that complement the web based product so whether it’s the apple appstore or google play store you can download the statement games from those environments and just to kind of like make you a special offer, as of right now we have a NFL over/under wins total tournament currently on the statement games platform. For example take a look at all 31 teams: New York Giants over/under 6.5 games for the year. Go through that same process, pick 10 and rank them 10-1 — same thing that we outlined. 

Going on right now, anybody who could enter into that tournament right now from this podcast, then maybe send us a tweet referencing this show. At the end of the year, if you go 10 for 10 with these picks — I’m gonna send you 1000 bucks in addition.

Ryan: Hey! Hey! Man, there you go. We got a special offer for you listeners, that’s amazing. I will be going in and giving my lotto shot at the 1000 bucks. I’ll be throwing out guesses

Marc: 1000 bucks! You gotta go 10 for 10 I know it’s a little bit of a stretch but hey, you know what…

Ryan: Hey, you never know. You never know.

Marc: Playing my role here.

Ryan: That’s amazing.

Marc: …It helps up the local businesses economy and things like that. It’s things you’re gonna be participating in anyway as things get more and more back to normal.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s great.

Marc: Any feedback that you guys can provide on what we’re doing and what you like about the product is greatly appreciated.

Ryan: Amazing. We will put all of that detail into the show notes of this so people don’t have to remember how to get to it, but I urge everyone listening and all you listeners please go out to statement games, download it, check it out on the website —  get added into this NFL over/under contest and let’s see if we can break Marc’s bank here a little. And make him pay a little bit for offering that, no but Marc we do truly appreciate that offer and we’re really humbled that you came on the show and thank u for being here.

Marc: Hey thank you so much for the opportunity —  giving me a chance to tell my story a little bit. Be safe and thank you.

Ryan: Absolutely, if you ever need anything don’t hesitate to ask. This is Marc Saulino, CEO of Statement Game. For all you listening, thank you and stay safe out there. Hopefully we’ll have sports back soon. Take care everyone —  buh-bye.

Marc: Take care now.

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