CEO and Founder of Ball Street Trading, Scott San Emeterio, joins Ryan Knuppel on the show. They discuss his platform and the difficulties he has faced trying to start a business in this landscape.

 

Video from Scott San Emeterio Interview

Show notes from Scott San Emeterio Interview

Ryan Knuppel: Alright, welcome back to another episode of the Knup Sports Show. I’m your host, Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Today I’m joined by a returning guest. We have a returning guest back on the Knup Sports Show. We have Scott San Emeterio, CEO, founder of Ball Street Trading. Scott, thank you so much for being here, as always.

Scott San Emeterio: Yeah man, great to be back. Always great to catch up.

Ryan Knuppel: Man, you’re one of my favorite people in the industry. We go back over a year now, we’ve hung out a few times and I just super appreciate the time you give and I know we chat quite a bit about what’s going on, but thank you once again for just taking a little bit of time out of your busy day to be here.

 Scott San Emeterio: It’s my pleasure and thank you for having me on, being supportive. You probably know better than anyone, this is not the easiest industry to fight through, especially this past year. But it’s great to certainly watch your show and listen to some of the guest you have on. It’s just been a great experience this past year or two.

Ryan Knuppel: I appreciate that, I appreciate that. So, let’s talk a little bit about the past year. So, well first of all give the audience, so maybe there are people listening that didn’t hear the first show. Just give us a little bit of background about yourself and then how Ball Street came about and then what Ball Street is just at a very high level.

Scott San Emeterio: Yea my background is in finance. I spent a long time in fixed income trading bonds, and was never really a big sports bettor, but played a lot of online poker back in during the boom and tried to really think about a way that I could get control of the action that I wanted to have during a live game. None of that really existed, certainly not in the US. And, you know, what Ball Street is, is a real time prediction market that lets fans compete against each other during any live event. It’s basically the best of sports betting meets the stock market with a little bit of online poker sprinkled in.

Ryan Knuppel: Very cool, very cool. And what, you know, what’s new right now. I mean I know you guys probably had quite a bit of momentum going with Ball Street coming into the COVID pandemic and you know now we have all kind of lost a bit of momentum in whatever we were doing. But I’m curious for you guys how, how you reacted as a company to this current situation that we’ve been in.

Scott San Emeterio: We were all set to make a big push in the NCAA tournament this year. We had set up our PR teams, we were going to actually going to do some real marketing going into that tournament. We wanted to really grow out the user base through the NBA playoffs then really take us into the summer and figure out what the second half was going to look like with college football and the NFL. COVID hit, still remember that day when the NBA gets cancelled, Tom Hanks is sick, and it’s just you feel like everything is collapsing on top of you. So, we you know, we quickly thought about where the best direction was going to be for us. We were all pretty much in agreement that this was going to be a pretty big deal, so we basically put conventional sports on the shelf, and we went full force into esports for a good three to four months. We did all the due diligence and discovery to understand the landscape and figure out who the players were and really try to figure out what our place in it could potentially be. We went out we spoke to a lot of teams, we spoke to a lot of publishers, we spoke to a lot of talent agencies. Just to really understand exactly how that space works and how the gaming side of things leads itself to potential opportunities because the regulation in esports is maybe even more difficult than some for the conventional betting. Through those conversations we met a lot of really great and smart people. We have a couple of announcements that will be coming later this summer. One of which is a really big one for us to be able to turn on our business model where were going to have full on sponsors coming into the contests creating interesting prizes and creating markets for esports. Everything form Mario Kart to NBA2K to Rocket League to CS Go, so if there’s ability for us to have a measurable outcome we are going to try to put a market for it.

Ryan Knuppel: So, yea we all know esports is…not going away. It’s going to be exploding over the next decade and it’s definitely a force to be reckon with. Just explain to the audience a little bit more about what you mean about creating markets for esports. How Ball Street and esports, how does one of those contests work? And maybe a little more granular level.

Scott San Emeterio: Yea sure, so when you think about it in a conventional sports sense you think about Monday night football there are two teams that are going to be play. We are going to have a market run based on win probability so our markets will run from 0 to 100. Shares of the winning team will expire at 100. Shares of the losing team will expire at zero. So, for us to create markets, we just really need a measurable outcome. So, whether that’s a presidential election. Whether that’s a question of where will Kevin Durant sign. We had that market last summer. We had a market which league will be back first, the NBA or major league baseball. And we think about esports, we are just really looking about how these teams, when you think about the big tournaments, or even some of these streamers who are just doing it with their buddies and somehow manage to pull in 25 to 50 thousand streamers which just still blows my mind every time I see it. But we are just there trying to say Team Liquid vs 100 Thieves, which team is going to win map one in the CS Go game. And we will basically have the market in real time and people can buy and sell shares of those teams as they are watching those players, you know, compete. Even if it’s something like Mario Kart, it’s like you know, will the Princess win or is Luigi going to win. We can create a market and you’re basically going to watch them go around the track and you’re going to buy shares based on the likelihood they are going to win. There’s really no difference to Mario Kart and NASCAR on some level, right? So, for us it’s just trying to create as many different verticals or as many different products that we think will get people interested. And obviously hopefully going a good experience and get to come back. Because you’re not really getting this type of experience with conventional betting or certainly fantasy.  So, I think we have a unique product in that this is something that goes in parallel to compliment and enhance the experience of watching these streams.

Ryan Knuppel: Sure, the fan engagement and being involved and all of this stuff. You know it kind of goes, it’s clear as to how it works with sports, but how it’s going to work in esports and how that’s going to go it just all blows my mind a little bit. So, explain a little bit about your, are these free to play games? You know they’re not actually buying shares with…explain how that works. Do they buy into a contest, and they’re getting prizes and things of that nature but explain how that works a little bit.

Scott San Emeterio: So I mean, early on we realized that being a startup and trying to do real money gaming in the US is next to an impossible task. So, so we have gone the free to play route. You know, we looked at what we do well and that’s basically engage players for the duration of the game. So, the amount of average app open time that we are seeing because players are engaged in the markets, we thought this would be a good path to take and invite brands to leverage that engagement to tell their story in true game. So, our contests are completely free to play. We are creating prize pools in the back end to create some incentive. The goal is to bring in sponsors that will really increase that incentive to where potentially we have a free to play game where you can win anywhere from five, ten, to even twenty bucks. So, when you think about how much you actually risking playing fantasy or playing making an actually bet, why when you can come to ball street when you can win ten, twenty bucks for free, would you ever go risk your own money? That’s really the angle we are trying to play and leverage our ability to tell those stories and introduce those sponsors to the gaming community in a unique way where we actually get to monetize fan engagement and give that money back to the fans.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s very interesting, that sounds amazing. Alright I’m going to show my financial novice-ness with this next question. But I want to hear a little bit of the strategy around this and what your thoughts are. I’m sure everybody has their own strategy when playing your games, you know, when buying and selling. But I’m of the nature when I come in, I’m like I’m going all or nothing. I’m buying like all stock here and if it goes well I might do well and if not, I don’t. Explain the strategy in how that could or wouldn’t work and am I thinking of that just totally wrong and I should be buying and selling at different point? Give us a little strategy. I need help.

Scott San Emeterio: Right, so if you think about the game at its core, it’s really just a pick’em game, right? We are asking you to pick not even so much who is going to win the game, we are almost asking you who to pick who is going to perform the best over the next five or ten minutes. Because as that team performs well more people are going to want to buy those shares. Because at the end of the game the team with the winning shares, they are going to expire at 100 and that’s the true goal, to try to collect as many 100 valued shares as you can. But the reality is that if you come in at the beginning of the game and you say you know what, the Yankees are going to win tonight I just know it, but the score is 0-0 and you buy the Yankees, the Yankees might win the game but it doesn’t mean you’ll win Ball Street. Because what if the Yankees fall down 5-0 in the third. That means the Yankees were traded at let’s say 50 at the beginning of the game, now their down 5-0 they are trading at 30. So, someone else has the opportunity to come in and buy shares at 30, which is going to gain much more PNL than your shares at 50, even if the Yankees go to win because your shares, you’re going to make 50 bucks on each. They’re going to make 70. So, you’re going to be behind them in the leaderboard. So one of the big strategies in which is kind of interesting in that every time shares make a new low in the market, it’s probably a buying opportunity because you now have the opportunity to buy the cheapest shares in the market which gives you the opportunity to make the most money off those shares. Another thing is that if you’re paying attention to the market with the game, you’ll be able to understand where you are in relation to other players. So, if you’re not inside the top 20% or whatever percentage we are paying that particular night, your move is now to go buy the underdog team because you can’t buy the team that’s already winning. You’re never going to make up enough to beat everyone that is already ahead of you. So, your opportunity there is to buy this share so that the team that is behind hoping that they get to make a comeback. They don’t even have to comeback and win the game, if they’re, if it’s an NBA game and their down 15 points and the game is trading 70-30, even if that team comes back to tie the game, those shares probably go to 30 to 50 and you just made a monster return because you now get to make 20 dollars per share and you only put in 30 on each and this is where some of the math, some of the ROI, some of the game theory stuff begins to play itself out and that’s why I always say that there’s a lot of poker that  gets sprinkled in to this to think about the different layers of strategy to why you’re picking a team, why you’re buying a team. You know at the end of the day, the decision to buy or sell a team shouldn’t be based on who is going to win or lose the game until your probably in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Knuppel: Interesting, interesting. And that’s what I love about it there’s so many layers and levels of complexity, you know you have your…you’re really drawing on a bunch of crowds. You know, you got your sports fans that are really wanting to get engaged, but like you said there’s a little bit of poker in it. What are the others doing? How do I, when do I want to buy when do I want to sell? Then there’s for sure the financial aspect which obviously is your background and so the trading piece of it I think draws in a whole other crowd of people that can now put that with sports and, I just commend you. I think it’s a great idea and a super product that you guys have put out there.

Scott San Emeterio: Thank you. Its always funny because I go back and look at the tape at the end of the markets and you have players, some of them make ten, fifteen, twenty trades and their successful while other guys make 100 trades. Some of them are successful, some of them aren’t successful. Did you catch the moment at the right time? Are you staying ahead of everyone else? It’s like one of those things if you think about an NFL game to where if the Patriots have the ball on the 20, and they are traded at 50, they make a first down maybe it goes up to 55. Then they cross the 50-yard line, now their trading at 60. They get into the red zone, now they’re trading at 65. They go into the endzone, the market might move up to 70, but then everything is going to sell off because you have the guys who bought them back at the 20 yard line selling into the strength that is everyone whose laten money buying those shares that cross the end zone and people then who bought shares at 68 don’t understand why the market is not trading at 61 after they score a touchdown. Because everyone is playing the crowd. They’re not even trading the game, they’re trading the market. They’re competing against everyone else.

Ryan Knuppel: Right, amazing. So, let’s go a little off topic here. I won’t keep you too much longer, but I got a question that’s more business running, business operations, entrepreneurship facing. So, you know we all know entrepreneurship is not all it’s cracked up to be sometimes. It’s very difficult, there’s challenges that come about as your starting any kind of product business, service, whatever you’re doing. I’m curious what is some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced starting Ball Street. Because it’s been only, what, a couple years now. I’m sure you’ve had many challenges throughout a couple years. And COVID aside. Let’s put COVID aside. I mean, that was a challenge for everyone. I’m talking more just business in general. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced of just being an entrepreneur and running a business?

Scott San Emeterio: I think time and that you have this set timeline of when things are supposed to happen. And I think the reality is, at least my experience at best, if you think somethings going to take a month it’s probably going to take two. And I think mentally you have to get over that fact because otherwise that will just eat you up and beat you down to where you set these timelines and you set these goals and these milestones that are, I don’t even know if they’re achievable. But you know there’s…it takes a village in that we have a team of five at Ball Street. So, we need all of us to pull together to be able to reach the milestones that we’ve sat out for ourselves. And you know, we sit and put these dates on the calendar and the calendar has its own, has its own you know, ideas of when these things are going to get done. So, I think from coming, at least from me, coming from a corporate background where everything is much more structured and you have the full support of thousands of people potentially working on whatever the projects are there, that you can stay to a cadence and with, you know, I think, at least my ex

perience on the entrepreneur side of things is that everything is the wild west and time is what you make of it, but you can’t hold yourself to it because otherwise, like I said you’re going to drive yourself crazy because it’s next to impossible And I give everyone credit who has attempted to continue sto attempt and even who has gone to those heights. It is much harder than I ever thought it was going to be, but I certainly love every second of it.

Ryan Knuppel: Yea that’s some great advice. You know you can’t get to down when your, when you don’t hit a milestone or timeline changes. I mean that’s something that’s going to happen day in and day out. So, I think that’s great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, or people in this space you know that are looking to start up things. Don’t get too caught up because things are going to change. Especially in this industry as well you know, with the gaming space so new in the US and all of this I think it even adds to that complexity and timing changing.

Scott San Emeterio: For sure, and in the gaming space you have the regulatory issues, you have now I guess potentially financial issues with everything that’s going on around with COVID. Depending on what your trying to build, you have a pretty defensive incompetency group in that the operators or the people that have been in the industry for a really long time, they’re not going to necessarily be so happy to see some of the new stuff to come in. And you know, you look around over the past even month or two, and you know, in the startup space you see some the companies that are getting funded and they’re holding true to a model of what clearly works in the DXF space. A lot of the pick’ems, a lot of the props type stuff. And for us you know, our time will come. It’s just a question of when are people going to think about some of the alternative ways that people get to experience sports and people get to consume a gaming type of product that isn’t conventional or at least hasn’t been conventional in the US for as long as we’ve been around. So, for us it’s about really trying to continue to do what we’ve been doing well and eventually our time will come and put ourselves in a position to be successful.

Ryan Knuppel: I love that mentality, you know. Keep grinding away and not all businesses reach their pinnacle right away, I mean it just takes time and effort and grinding and just getting after it and putting that sweat equity in, right? And believing that the product and the service you have is truly above others and that you’ll just need the right eyes on it. Alright, you need the right partnerships and the right things to happen.

Scott San Emeterio: It’s one of those things, right? It takes one and that’s been our mantra, is you know we say all the time that once the dam breaks, this thing is going to get pretty wild pretty fast. So just keep hammering away.

Ryan Knuppel: Well I encourage any of you listeners or watchers of this show reach out to Scott. He’s one of the great guys in this industry. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you over the years. So, Scott tell anyone listening how they can get ahold of you, how they can play Ball Street. What you need from them.

Scott San Emeterio: Yea I mean, we would love to have everyone come experience the app and let us know your thoughts. Good, bad or otherwise. We are always trying to improve the experience on the app. We know that it’s something that is a little bit outside the box, but I think every day that we are out there creating markets, we come a little bit closer to inside the box. With a lot of the surge in retail trading and people maybe understanding the stock market a little bit more with the past 6 months than they did before. Ballstreettrading.com is the website. We are available on the app store. We are available on Google Play. We are available through a web app on your mobile. We have a desk top version. On twitter @ballstreetapp is where we probably do our most activity and on Linked in Scott San Emeterio, feel free to reach out. Happy to help in any way I can with anyone who has ideas, thoughts, or if they even want to consider jumping on or helping us because we are looking to expand the team over the next couple of months.

Ryan Knuppel: Perfect, perfect. Well Scott, I appreciate you being here. Any upcoming poker tournaments? I know you guys were running a few poker tournaments, kind of on the side as well. Anything?

Scott San Emeterio: Yea I mean, look anything that can keep our name top of mind.

Ryan Knuppel: I love it

Scott San Emeterio: Your brothers been playing.

Ryan Knuppel: I know he has. Yes, he’s been poking me like hey are you going to get on. I’m like ‘crap’ not tonight but I need to.

Scott San Emeterio: We’ve been averaging almost 250 people on Wednesday nights.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing.

Scott Emeterio: Yea so anyone who wants to play, Wednesday nights on Poker Stars, it’s completely rake free games. So, come in, play. It’s a great group. It has a home game feel but when you’re pulling a couple hundred people those prize pools get pretty interesting. It’s a lot of fun

Ryan Knuppel: Never know, never know. Maybe all in. Just all in. Make it happen. Alright Scott, well I appreciate your time any last words for the audience here before we take off?

Scott San Emeterio: No. Thank you Ryan. You do a great job and I really do enjoy the podcasts when I get to see them pop up on my Spotify and look forward to catching up hopefully in December when SBC gets a chance to come back to New York. And if not, sometime next year we got to figure out a way to cross paths.

Ryan Knuppel: Yea I definitely agree with that. I can’t wait for live events to come back and sit down and talk business and life and everything like that. So, alright everybody I appreciate you all tuning in watching, taking care, this was Scott San Emeterio with Ball Street Trading. Scott, once again, thank you. Everyone listening thank you and everybody stay safe out there. Bye-bye.

 

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