Listen in as Jacob Kalms of 20SHOTS / Fantasy5 joins the Knup Sports Show to talk about where they are headed with both products.

Watch on Youtube

Ryan Knuppel:
Hey, what’s going on everybody? Ryan Knuppel here. You are watching the Knup Sports Show, episode 134. Thank you so much for watching, really appreciate everyone being here and giving us a little bit of your time.

Ryan Knuppel:
Hey, today we have another special guest, as we always do. We bring up people in the industry, people that love sports betting just as much as we do here at the Knup Sports Show. Today, we have Jacob Kalms.

Ryan Knuppel:
Jacob, are you with us?

Jacob Kalms:
I am, indeed. Hi, thank you for having me. How are you doing?

Ryan Knuppel:
How are you today, Jacob? Thank you for joining me. You doing well?

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah. Very good, thanks. Excited to be on your show and speaking with you, so all good, thank you.

Ryan Knuppel:
It’s been a long time coming. I know we’ve been trying to get you on in the last several months. As the summer months go, things get busy.

Ryan Knuppel:
I want to give a little background of Jacob. Jacob’s co-founder, CEO of 20SHOTS and more recently, Fantasy5. I’m really excited to dive into both of those and just dive into what you’re up to in this industry. I know you have a ton going on and probably some value you can bring to the listeners, Jacob, so I’m really excited to get into that.

Ryan Knuppel:
But first, I want to hear more about you, yourself, you, Jacob as the person. What got you into this industry? And give us a little career path that led you to where you are today.

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah. Well, being in the UK, we’ve been gambling from a young, young age and it’s all been pretty open for us. I’m a master sports fan, just like yourself and your team, and I’ve always been interested in the field.

Jacob Kalms:
I was big in marketing to begin with, and I was asked to come and run the marketing for a sports betting app that launched about maybe six, seven years ago. I helped them grow their first few years. That was my first peak into the real sports betting world, from the operator side. I was fully immersed in it and I really enjoyed it. But, I saw there was a few gaps in the market, especially in the UK, but also as the US was opening for fantasy style products. My business partner was the lead data scientist for one of the world’s leading top sports betting hedge funds. They’re betting maybe one, two billion pounds a year on these markets, beating the operators.

Jacob Kalms:
We realized that we could price up fantasy sports and fantasy football, specifically fantasy soccer. We thought there was a gap for it and we went, guns blazing, to try and build this product. Here we are, three years later, pivoted a little bit with our new product Fantasy5 but it’s going well. It’s very exciting times.

Ryan Knuppel:
Well, I think pivoting is always something that’s not a bad thing. It may be looked at as a bad thing, but changes can be good and you’re never going to be 100% successful with what you do, the very first iteration of it. In any business or anything you’re in, I think being able to migrate to the times, and I’m sure COVID played a big part in that change.

Ryan Knuppel:
But before we get into that change, tell us a little bit more about the product, more about 20SHOTS and Fantasy5 and what it is, at its core, and educate us on that.

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah. Originally, we released 20SHOTS. That was a B2B fantasy software provider. We can price up all markets really, overs, unders, in-play, pre-game. You can pick more than 11 players for your team, or you could only pick two players, and you can bet on any price brackets you want to. It’s not just specific price brackets, we offer you every single option which, in the UK, is very important to the users and people’s sensitivity.

Jacob Kalms:
We released that and we built that product. We built it more as a gamified product, so more like a casino game, whereas you come on, you make your team on the site. It’s a bit more aesthetically pleasing, rather than just the fixed odds lines. We were repped off of it, we went to ICE to show it off and COVID hit. We had some deals that were in the pipeline but literally, everything went to a standstill, the season stopped. People just stopped talking to us until they could get themselves back in line.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yeah.

Jacob Kalms:
But, that was maybe bad for that product, but looking at it now, that product’s live and we’re live in 5000 retail shops in the UK. And those fixed odds, it’s a very exciting time.

Jacob Kalms:
But, the fact that COVID happened allowed us to release and come up with Fantasy5, which is a free-to-play game.

Ryan Knuppel:
Love it.

Jacob Kalms:
It wasn’t so much a pivot but it was let’s shift our focus a little bit to a new product.

Ryan Knuppel:
In addition, right? You’re adding to your offerings. That’s cool, that’s always a good thing. So Fantasy5, a fantasy product, explain the concept.

Jacob Kalms:
We released it for soccer, where you have five games that we pick for you and you have to pick one player from each game to beat their fantasy points target.

Ryan Knuppel:
It seems simple.

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah, it’s very simple. It takes one minute to make your selection. And then, you win 10,000 pounds if you get it all right, it runs every week, and you split that jackpot if there’s more than one winner.

Ryan Knuppel:
That’s cool. That’s really neat. Right now, are you only live with soccer? Or, have you started to get into other sports?

Jacob Kalms:
We released the product and it was mainly to be a funnel for our fixed odds product, and we would sell it B2B. But we actually saw, on a B2C level, the acquisition, the retention and engagement was off the roof, and so, so cheap. We have licensed it out now, however we’ve released a basketball version of the game at the end of the basketball season. We didn’t do any real marketing, it was very light, it was just, “Let’s get it out there, make sure it’s all working.”

Jacob Kalms:
Now the new season’s starting, we’ll be going big with that product. It works exactly the same thing, five basketball games, you pick one player from each game to beat their target. If they all do, you win. And then, we have weekly and monthly prizes as well as annual prizes, so we’re just giving out money.

Ryan Knuppel:
I love the simplicity of that. Sometimes, fantasy products can be over-complicated and can really make it almost hard to play because you just are so overwhelmed, and you really got to dive in and understand what’s going on. But, that seems like such a simple concept. It almost seems too easy. Maybe I’m being too confident.

Ryan Knuppel:
But explain, how many winners are there? Are there tons of winners every day?

Jacob Kalms:
No. No.

Ryan Knuppel:
Oh, okay. So it’s harder than it sounds.

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah, it is harder than it sounds. We have the guaranteed prizes, so we always have weekly, monthly winners and annual. And then, we had three jackpot winners last season, over 38 game weeks. We got lucky as the operator there, we would have expected maybe four or five winners.

Jacob Kalms:
But, each player has a probability to beat their target. Whereas other free to play games, their risk isn’t managed, we can manage our risk from our standpoint. We can push the lines up if we don’t want to have a winner and lower the lines if we do. We tend to keep the same across the whole season so it’s fun for the users and they don’t … That’s it, really, just make it the best experience possible for the user.

Ryan Knuppel:
I love it. Are there plans to expand into … As you know, I’m in the United States. And United States, the king of all sports is the NFL, it’s football for us. Are there plans to expand into that giant of a sport? Or, any other sports for that matter?

Jacob Kalms:
Yes, there is. But, cricket is our next product that we’ll be releasing. We have the prizing and everything done for ice hockey, but we’re not sure we’re going to release that. We might bring in NFL beforehand. But, it won’t be for this season, NFL will be for next season.

Jacob Kalms:
We might do the same as we did for basketball, release it just as the playoffs, just to test it and make sure it’s working, and then go with our marketing plan for the next season for our launch, so it’s a soft launch at end of season.

Ryan Knuppel:
I love it. As far as user acquisition and where people can sign up, is this available worldwide or is this only in the UK or US? Where is this available?

Jacob Kalms:
Well, what we’ve seen, it’s actually mind blowing. We have signups for over 135 different countries for our football product. We’ve never marketed it. We don’t market it to any of those reasons, it’s mainly the UK that we’re targeting for that product, so that’s great to see. I think we have a couple of 1000 US signups, which is obviously nice but it’s small numbers.

Jacob Kalms:
The aim is for the basketball product to go big over there. We have 62,000 signups so far, which is small, but we did that at 70P CPA, which our competitors are paying 30, 40 pounds and we’re coming in at 70P. This is now our big push, we’re just in the middle of finalizing our common round of investment and we’re going big this season to make our name.

Ryan Knuppel:
Well, congrats on that success. You say those are small numbers but that’s all relative. Those are large numbers to some people and maybe small to others. Where you’re at is the perfect spot, it’s where you’re supposed to be. It sounds like, I can tell, you have a business mind to you and there’s a lot of things coming down the pipeline.

Ryan Knuppel:
What are those things? I know other sports and user acquisition, but are there, I don’t know, new changes or big changes that are coming to your product? Or, is it now just simply more users?

Jacob Kalms:
Our B2C arm, it’s more users, and then the monetization of those users, trying to see where we stand in each different region and jurisdiction. However, we are licensing out this Fantasy5 product as well, to operators. It’s an amazing acquisition and retention tool. We have 78% week-on-week retention and we have no push notifications. We only can speak to 40% of our users and we still get such strong engagement.

Jacob Kalms:
That’s one thing that we’ve now got, an operator in Asia, in the UK, Greece and Africa that are all about to go live with our product. We’re already live with one operator in Australia called Top Sport, that you can play Fantasy5 on their site. They’re either integrated into our B2C product, so if they win the jackpot they share it with our audience, or they have a bespoke version for themselves.

Ryan Knuppel:
Nice, nice. So you’ve got a little bit of both. You’ve got some B2C going, you’ve got some B2B going, you’ve got it all going. I’m assuming if people want to sign up for the B2C, they head out to, do you have an app or a website? What’s the best way for a consumer that wants to play Fantasy5, what’s the best way for them to sign up for that?

Jacob Kalms:
Www.fantasy5, the number, .com.

Ryan Knuppel:
Fantasy5, the number, I love it.

Jacob Kalms:
You’re in, you’re in. Right now, the basketball game is obviously a dead page because the season is not live. But, if you go to our football game you can get a quick look at just how it works and to enter for this weekend. You can essentially win 10,000 pounds.

Ryan Knuppel:
Hey, it’s worth a try, right? So Fantasy5, the number five, .com. We’ll actually put that in the show notes and distribute that to everybody after this.

Ryan Knuppel:
But real quick, before I let you go, I know you’re a busy man, I want to make sure you get your time back. But, let’s jump into the B2B side just for a second. As you know, most of the audience of this show is more of maybe a business mind, more of business people. Is there anything that you’re looking for, maybe connections to be made, something you want to say to the audience that maybe you’re struggling, or maybe you just, I don’t know, you need from the audience, anything there?

Jacob Kalms:
Well, being a CEO of a startup, you’re always struggling but it’s definitely rewarding. I think we’re now looking to open up a US office and to be pitching this basketball product. I know obviously your team is very well positioned for that sort of stuff, but also we’ll be looking to open up a marketing team in the States in the next coming few months.

Ryan Knuppel:
Cool.

Jacob Kalms:
Anyone’s interested, get in touch.

Ryan Knuppel:
Where is headquarters going to be?

Jacob Kalms:
It’s undecided right now.

Ryan Knuppel:
I’ll push for Florida. Come on, Florida.

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah. Or, New York. It’s undecided.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yeah.

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah, that’s the aim. Just finalizing this investment and then we’ll go with it.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yeah. So speaking of the United States, there’s tons going on here. We’re seeing acquisitions every day in this space, we’re seeing all sorts of news come out just regarding sports betting and legalization, and fantasy sports and all of the above, and it’s all tying together. I know it’s probably because I live here, but it just seems like it’s the hot topic right now in this while i-gaming industry.

Ryan Knuppel:
From a UK perspective, someone maybe not living here in the United States, is that how you feel as well, that there’s just so much going on here in the United States? Or, am I seeing it just because I’m here?

Jacob Kalms:
No, 100%. In the UK, it’s so saturated and so are a lot of jurisdictions, so people are very eager to get to the States and people are eager to throw money at different solutions that they call right now. I think, personally, that some of these merger and acquisitions won’t achieve what they achieved in Europe, in the UK, because of how we have grown up betting and the interaction we have with tipsters and so on, like that. I think yeah, it’s an amazing opportunity for everyone.

Jacob Kalms:
We don’t really feel that we sit in that whole fantasy space because that’s more season long, or you’ve now got the fixed odds. But, we are this free-to-play acquisition tool. For the basketball product, we don’t offer fixed odds, we offer just this free-to-play acquisition tool. We see operators, right now they’re offering crazy acquisition deals and crazy signup offers. That won’t last and they’re going to need products to engage and retain their users, and that’s where we fit in.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yeah. Yeah, I love that. That’s the name of the game, is acquiring your customers and getting more users, and doing that efficiently is not always easy. I can definitely see Fantasy5 filling that gap and being a great product to plug in to get people in, and then obviously cross use them in whatever way they want. But, very, very cool. That’s awesome. I love it.

Ryan Knuppel:
So tell me a little bit more about this US operation because I’m always thinking what’s next. You’re talking New York, maybe Florida, who knows, you’re not sure where you’re headed. But, are you looking to launch up a whole business over here? Or, just have a small office and get going?

Jacob Kalms:
It’ll be a small office to begin with and that also helps. We’ve gone to VCs in the States who think we’d valued much higher, that’s the honest truth, if we had operations in the States.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yeah.

Jacob Kalms:
Just as a business standpoint, it’s worthwhile for us.

Jacob Kalms:
Also, we ran this basketball game at the end of the season and I know very little about basketball. There’s no point in joking about it. I know everything about the UK sports and I worked for it all day, every day.

Ryan Knuppel:
Well, I’m opposite of that. Yeah, I get it. I understand.

Jacob Kalms:
Yeah. Being up late and having our marketing team up late here in the UK, running our socials and our acquisition, when it’s just not in our knowledge or interest, yeah it’s not fair. We’re going to be opening up in the States, a small team. If we see that successful then yeah, we will grow. Once we release NFL then yeah, that will be a big team, including data scientists, developers and marketing.

Ryan Knuppel:
Lots of good stuff to come. This is Jacob Kalms, the co-founder, CEO 20SHOTS, Fantasy5. Jacob, this has been amazing.

Ryan Knuppel:
Hey, one last thing. I think I met you or I met a couple of your team mates at ICE, I think that’s where we actually first connected back a few years ago. Let me ask, are you planning on attending some of these conferences that are coming up here in the next three to five months?

Jacob Kalms:
If we can fly, we’ll be at G2E. Just waiting to get approval. If you can give Biden a little nudge, that would be great.

Ryan Knuppel:
Oh, yeah. I’m sure I have a lot of pull there, to make that happen. I really hope you can make that happen because G2E is always a good one to connect with people. And hopefully, if you are there, make sure to message me. We’ll sit down and have lunch or something.

Jacob Kalms:
100%. It’s great talking with you.

Ryan Knuppel:
Great. Well, this was Jacob Kalms, the co-founder, CEO of 20SHOTS, Fantasy5. Before I let you go, any last words for the audience, Jacob?

Jacob Kalms:
No. I just keep enjoying your show and keep at it, you’re doing really well. Keep going.

Ryan Knuppel:
Awesome, thank you. Well, I appreciate your time, appreciate everything. That was Jacob Kalms, once again.

Ryan Knuppel:
Hey, Ryan Knuppel here, episode number 134 of the Knup Sports Show, really appreciate all the audience watching. We’re going to try to bring you some more shows. Now that the summer’s over, we’ll try to bring more action to everyone. Summer always makes it hard, but now we’ll bring more interview style action, talking to i-gaming professionals. So until next time, everybody please take care, stay safe and have a great day yourself. All right, bye bye.

Relevant Jacob Kalms Links

More Knup Sports Links

Contact Ryan Knuppel

| + posts

Ryan is a veteran to the sports betting industry. He owns and operates Knup Solutions where they provide the highest quality sports betting and igaming content to affiliates and operators. His contributions on Knup Sports show his pure knowledge and love for the sports and gaming industry.

Sports Network:
sports20.com, usawager.com, knupsports.com, baseballspotlight.com, basketballarticles.com, betdecider.com, njsportsbookreview.com, dunkelindex.com, sportspub.com, oddschoice.com