On today’s show, Dave Gerczak & Alex Kaganovsky of FFPC join Ryan to talk about their season long fantasy football platform and contests.

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Ryan Knuppel:
Hey, what’s going on everybody. How are you today? I’m your host Ryan Knuppel here. You’re watching The Knup Sport Show, episode 135. We are up to 135 episodes of this awesome show. Really appreciate all the support you guys give us each and every time we bring you a show. As you know, we love to dive in and we love to just hear from industry leaders. We love to hear from sports business people, executives in this awesome space that we call sports business. And today we have two guests with us. We have the founders of the FFPC, Dave Gerczak and Alex Kaganovsky. Thank you guys for joining me. How are you guys today?

Dave Gerczak:
Great [crosstalk 00:00:53].

Ryan Knuppel:
Welcome to the show. Really appreciate it. You know, taking a few minutes and just chatting. We just want to hear more about FFPC but first, how are you guys hanging in there? You guys doing well, staying safe, enjoying, did you enjoy your summer? I know we’re about to the end of the summer, but all good. How about you, Dave?

Dave Gerczak:
Yeah, it’s been great. I’m in Wisconsin, so the weather is actually good here at this time of year, and we’re just getting busier and busier with Fantasy Football right now. So we’re excited.

Ryan Knuppel:
It’s time of year, man, the Fantasy Football and the next two, three weeks is Fantasy Football time. I’m excited. And I got my oldest son who does my, I’ve kind of turned him into my Fantasy Football GM as time has went on, I’m like just starting the team and he does all the dirty work. So that’s been fun. But Alex, how about you? You doing well?

Alex Kaganovsky:
Yeah, I’m doing well. I’m in New York city and been a little hot here, but staying in doors and working, getting ready for the season.

Ryan Knuppel:
Awesome. Awesome. Well, cool. Well, let’s dive right in. First I want to hear, it’s not every day that I get to guests on here, so we’re going to kind of just keep going back and forth, but I want to hear a little bit about you guys, specifically. A little more about your path to get to where you are today with the FFPC, but what got you going in Fantasy Football and sports in general. Alex, we’ll start with you. What got you going in this industry?

Alex Kaganovsky:
The industry I got in just because I love Fantasy Football and that was one of my primary hobbies and eventually led me to meeting Dave and it led me to the business, to starting the FFPC. But I was as far away from this particular industry as I probably could be, I was in the medical industry immediately before launching the FFPC and many other industries prior to that. So this was absolutely brand new to me.

Ryan Knuppel:
That’s cool. That’s cool. Dave, how about your story? What got you to where you are today?

Dave Gerczak:
You know, business-wise I was originally in retail. Coming out of college I worked at a Sunglass Hut and then started some watch kiosks and I’m actually still in the watch business, more e-comm at this point. So yeah, again, Fantasy Football is not an area of interest really, from a business perspective I just wanted to play. I think I drafted Terrell Davis as my first pick in 1999 and he promptly tore his ACL. Took Jake Plummer and the second round, that was another terrible pick, but yeah, and I got better. I started with, Alex and I didn’t know each other, but we went to the world championship of Fantasy Football in 2002, which was the first high stakes event. We became friends and six years later we started this business and it’s interesting. It’s been a slow growth process, but it’s almost like a boulder rolling downhill a little bit now, it’s really growing and growing and as regulation has come on, it’s really even gotten busier and busier for us. So, it’s been a fun ride. It’s been awesome.

Ryan Knuppel:
That’s really fascinating, both of you have similar stories in that you’re in other industries and it’s not like, oh, I knew sports business was my thing from the very beginning. I mean, that’s not your story. That’s really cool. That’s cool that you guys kind of found your way here and now that you’re kind of in it, you’re loving it and making some noise in the Fantasy Football space. So let’s jump into FFPC. I mean, tell us at a high level or at a deep level, give us just more background about FFPC, what it is and the audience you’re serving?

Dave Gerczak:
You want me to take that Alex?

Alex Kaganovsky:
Sure.

Dave Gerczak:
We originally, when we started back in 2008, we were a high stakes Fantasy Football company. So we really thought, we play at these higher levels of 500, 1,000, $1,500 or more for one entry fee for one team. And I think our lowest stakes, Satellite League was $150. So we really, we catered to this more affluent type person. But as time went on, we realized we were really missing kind of the mass market. And so since then, we’ve really kind of, we’ve added a lot of leagues of lower and lower entry fees, $77, $35. And this year we added $5 leagues just to get your feet wet, if you want to come in and play with us. It’s great. And you know, so now we have all sorts of stuff. There’s $5 leagues, there’s still $10,000 entry leagues. We have Dynasty, which is really popular, and then we still have our high-end like main event. We have our mid stakes contest, the Footballguys Players Championship. So we really feel like we are covering the whole gamut of Fantasy Football at this point.

Ryan Knuppel:
That’s really cool. Alex, anything to add there? Anything Dave missed out on from just a high level of FFPC?

Alex Kaganovsky:
No, I think we really didn’t have much of a business plan. Now looking back in 2008, we just said, hey, we should just launch this high-stakes Fantasy Football company. And then as the years went on and we’re like, wait a minute, we’re doing this wrong and we’re doing that wrong. So it took us a while to get it right. But I think we’re in a pretty good place right now.

Ryan Knuppel:
So tell me, how many people in a season, in a typical season, how many people will find themselves playing in FFPC events?

Alex Kaganovsky:
Well, just the two main contests, which would be the FFPC main event, is going to have close to 3,000 entries. Now, keep in mind, this is the higher stake entry. This is about $1,900 to enter. So this will be, if you compare it to the World Series of Poker, this would be the main event. And then we have other events like the Footballguys Players Championship, which is $350 to enter. That contest will have 13,000 entries. Then we have all kinds of, like Dave mentioned, individual leagues and other smaller contests that start at $5 and go all the way up. So, there’s literally thousands more leagues there. So, there’s quite a bit of people playing. I mean, a lot of them played multiple events. A lot of them will find their interest in one particular event, but we have quite a bit of seasonal long hobbyists that on our platform right now.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yeah. And that’s kind of what I was going to ask. So explain the difference, because I think a traditional Fantasy Football player, oh, I’ve got my buddies, we jump on Yahoo, we jump on ESPN, we jumped somewhere and we start a league. What’s the benefit of, can we get a whole group of people and start a league through you guys or is it a different concept? Explain a little bit how that works?

Dave Gerczak:
Sure. The difference really here is that if you are a person that it’s you and a few friends or just you, you don’t need to have 11 bodies or nine bodies that you’re going to [inaudible 00:07:48] You can come in just by yourself and play. And on top of that, you can play at any point in time. Like if you want to play a league this afternoon, there’s a league going on. If you want to play tonight, great, this weekend, great. I’m sure you’ve done this where you’re trying to coordinate with your 11 friends. Oh, hey, when can we do this? And it’s generally a nightmare. You’re like, oh my God, this guy has an offer. This guy can make it, this guy’s phoning it in.

Dave Gerczak:
So it’s a lot more convenient. You can just get on your computer, you go into the draft room, you can draft a online, and so it’s a lot easier. And then on top of it, you don’t have to worry about the guy that absconds with the money because you left it with the shady uncle. And so we take care of it. All the prizes are protected. Everyone gets paid out at the end of the year. So it works out really well.

Ryan Knuppel:
I love how on the main screen of your website and kind of one of the things you say, the home of season-long Fantasy Football. Now I want to dive into daily Fantasy Football here real quick and really ask, the main question I want to ask is, has DFS helped or hurt you guys over the years? Has that concept of DFS been an advocate for you guys or is it like a deterrent for what you guys are doing?

Alex Kaganovsky:
I think now that we’re probably a good 10 plus years of DFS track record, I think it’s safe to say that DFS has probably helped in the overall exposure to Fantasy Football to the masses. And I think that not only exposure, but also the idea of playing Fantasy Football for pay-to-play in pay-to-play format with large prizes has also become more of a mainstream, like an acceptable social game. Where if you go back to when we started in 2008, when we told people kind of, yeah, come play Fantasy Football, a lot of people didn’t even play Fantasy Football for money back then, people still play for trophies or pride or whatever. Now nobody plays for trophy, nobody plays for pride. Well, I shouldn’t say that, they play for pride, but certainly not solely for pride and not solely for trophies. And I think that that’s, if I was to give a really big compliment to DFS, that would probably be it.

Ryan Knuppel:
Very good answer. Very good answer. All right. So let’s dive into the main event. So the main events coming in September, it’s going to be in Las Vegas, Nevada. It looks like an awesome time. Give us a little bit about this main event that you guys have scheduled coming up here in September.

Dave Gerczak:
Oh yeah. It is an online option as well. So you can, if you can’t make it to Las Vegas, you are able to draft online. We actually have online main event starting this Friday, so starting soon. So it runs from that time all the way up through September 10th, I believe. But yeah, the live events [inaudible 00:10:46] is at Planet Hollywood, we have the opening game kickoff party. There’s a game on Thursday and it’s actually kind of interesting. The stats that are accrued during that game actually can be used for your starting lineup in the draft, whether you drafted before that game or after that game, you get the option of starting or benching any of those players. It gets really interesting. I remember one year of Peyton Manning threw for, I think, seven touchdowns and Peyton Manning became a first round pick in a lot of the drafts. So it gets really interesting. The Thursday game is very impactful.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yep. That’s going to be an amazing time. I do, I specifically remember that game when he threw for all those touchdowns, but yeah, I guess that would give you a week one win if you take him at the first round. I mean, that’s an auto win.

Dave Gerczak:
Absolutely, yep.

Ryan Knuppel:
Awesome. Anything to add on that, Alex?

Alex Kaganovsky:
Yeah, I would just say that that adds a wrinkle, so on Thursday we have probably around 400 people that will start coming down to our events and watch the game, in the giant ballroom with a giant screen TV, and all the drafts are starting. Most of the drafts are starting on Friday, the live drafts. And again, you’re in a ballroom with hundreds and hundreds of diehards, just like you, and all they want to talk about, all they want to hear is Fantasy Football. It’s really amazing. So you’re around kind of your people. You don’t have to, everywhere you turn, it’s someone who you could relate to. So, that runs through Sunday and then Sunday as one of our, my old friends and one of our FFPC players would say, Sundays when we open our presents, it’s Christmas time. And that’s when we watch the games and see what it is that all our teams are going to be doing actually on the field. So it’s an amazing weekend. So the FFPC players that do make it out to Las Vegas and join us, end up coming back for live time.

Ryan Knuppel:
That’s amazing. That sounds like a blast. I mean, you can’t beat that. Las Vegas football, Fantasy Football, a bunch of friends, buddies having a good time. That sounds amazing. So before I do have some other questions, more business wise, but before I do, how do people get started playing or drafting in an FFPC event? I know it’s myffpc.com, correct? Is that where you want to send them? Is that where they’re going to go join in to some of these drafts?

Dave Gerczak:
Oh yeah. You can just open an account, it’s free, and then there’s a menu, a draft lobby of various leagues and things to join. Again, you can start at a $5 league, there’s $5 sit and go. So those go off every hour or two, actually, if you just want to hop into a league and draft 18 rounds. At that point it takes about 40 minutes to actually just knock one of those out. But yeah, you can take a look at all the various options, whether it’s the main event or the Footballguys, or like the lower end five and $35 leagues just to check them out.

Dave Gerczak:
A lot of people, it’s really become popular, is this Best Ball format. We’ve been doing it for a long time, but a lot of times people don’t want to manage their teams, like you said, you delegate management of your team and kicking that can down the road for you. If you don’t want to do that, you just do a Best Ball team and you can draft 28 rounds or even 18 rounds for a slim format with no kickers, no defenses and you’re done. You just watch and you optimize the scoring every week and see how the team does.

Ryan Knuppel:
That’s really cool. And I see all sorts of formats out here. We’re showing the website as we speak here, but it looks like you can register out here, find all sorts of different formats, all sorts of different price levels and entry levels and things. So really truly, as you guys said earlier, not just this high stakes mentality, it’s really truly for anyone who wants to be involved with Fantasy Football and be a part of something awesome. So this is really cool guys, congrats on all the success. Now, one thing I always like to ask, and this is more business-wise, more entrepreneurial thinking is, what’s one of the biggest challenges you guys have had as you went through this, starting this from scratch? I know you guys started this from nothing to get from now. What’s one of the business challenges that you guys have run into that maybe you want to share how you got through it, or just one of the biggest challenges you guys have had as you launched FFPC?

Alex Kaganovsky:
Well, for us, Dave knows exactly what I’m going to say, and it still is, it’s always tech. Tech is the biggest challenge because neither Dave or I are developers. Over the years we learned a little HTML, but that’s pretty much it. So when we launched the FFPC, we had to outsource all of development. As little as it was back then, we didn’t really know how much more we would need again, over the years, we just learned so much. I think that’s probably less of an issue for a lot of the startups these days, because a lot of the startups, I think take that into serious consideration because it is 2021, but back in our days, we did not. So, if you’re well financed and you have a good tech team on your team, then I think you’ll be okay. But for us, that was a major problem and thankfully I think we’ve conquered it over the years, but we’re still working on it.

Ryan Knuppel:
Tech is one of those things it’s just ever changing. It’s always changing and it’s such a big part of what we do but it’s very tough to keep up with unless you have the right team. So that’s a great answer. Dave, anything to add or any other challenges you might’ve thought of?

Dave Gerczak:
Yeah, I think once [inaudible 00:16:20] happened, the regulation really came to the forefront. And I think everyone in our industry, with the exception of FanDuel and DraftKings, they were on it. But I think the rest of us were really kind of behind the times. When we originally started our contest, we put all of our funds in an attorney escrow account. So we were protecting our funds from the get-go. And so that’s always been important to us, but with all the regulations that came around, it’s just something we had to adjust to. We have a compliance officer, so we’re licensed in all these various states. So that’s still kind of a challenge. I mean, there’s some states like Delaware, for example, where we’re not licensed and they have a $50,000 fee and it’s just, there’s not enough people in Delaware to justify. So unfortunately we can’t be in every single state. So regulation, it’s always something to work on.

Ryan Knuppel:
Yeah, for sure. Definitely. I mean, and that’s one of those other, just like tech, it’s ever changing and ever-growing, and always something that you have to keep on your mind and if you don’t have the right people that understand that stuff, it’s very difficult. So great answers there. Hey, one more question before we get off here, I know it sounds like Alex is a busy guy. He’s got some phone calls coming in.

Alex Kaganovsky:
I got to figure out how to mute my ringer, so sorry about that.

Ryan Knuppel:
It’s all good. Hey, we’re on the fly here, it’s all good.

Alex Kaganovsky:
I’m always [inaudible 00:17:31] I don’t know how to do this.

Ryan Knuppel:
Why isn’t Alex picking up? No, I get it. I get it. So one last question. What’s the future look like for FFPC? I mean, are you guys still innovating? Are you guys still coming up with new things or are you at your pinnacle? I mean, is this it, you’re just now looking to grow all your contests, grow the main event, things of that nature, or are there next level things that you guys are looking to add, and maybe somebody listening or the audience listening could help with?

Alex Kaganovsky:
I think from a season long kind of game format, I think we’re in a really good place. I think the goal is to grow the format and to grow the prize pools. That’s a big deal. People always want to play in the big contest. So, we want to have all our major contest go to a million dollar grand prizes eventually, and that could happen sooner rather than later. So we’ll be pretty excited about that. And then expanding into, the one thing we are not doing yet, which a lot of competitors, a lot of the bigger guys, like DraftKings and FanDuel are obviously doing, are the daily kind of weekly games, and we’re not really doing in that space just yet. We’re not in the gaming space at all. So, obviously the industry is growing and we’re not really in a big rush to get to those places, but we’ll figure out what’s right for us and for our customers.

Ryan Knuppel:
Very cool. Very cool. Any last words, Dave, anything I missed that maybe we want to talk about here? I always miss something. So what else did you want to communicate or what else can we talk about here before we let you go?

Dave Gerczak:
Oh man, you’ve done such a great job. I don’t know if I have a whole lot, actually. I would say that, just again, to kind of bring up the Dynasty format, I think that that’s something that people just, it is, five to 10 years ago, we just started Dynasty Leagues in 2010 and it has just become this massive, huge format. And on top of that, the other format that’s really been popular as Super Flux. We’re starting a second quarterback. That’s really grown tremendously. We introduced that a few years ago and people love playing Super Flux format as well. So those two things are really interesting to us. They’re also areas of growth for us, for sure.

Ryan Knuppel:
That’s awesome. Cool. Well guys, I really appreciate your time. I’ll let you go get back to work here. If anyone wanted to connect with you guys personally, is there emails, is there a place that’s best to get a hold of you guys or is it just simply the company contact page? What’s the best way of getting a hold of you guys?

Dave Gerczak:
For me, it’s just [email protected] or @davidgerczak on Twitter.

Ryan Knuppel:
Okay.

Alex Kaganovsky:
Yeah. I’m [email protected] So I answer my emails pretty quickly, so [crosstalk 00:20:20]

Ryan Knuppel:
Perfect. We’ll get all of that added into the show notes of this show. So we’ll make sure, so you don’t have to scramble and write things down as you’re listening here everyone, but we’ll get it in the show notes. But Dave, Alex, really appreciate your time. Really wish you the best of luck this season with the FFPC and I’m excited to see how this main event goes, and I’m going to make sure that’s a bucket list thing for me to start to try to get out to that main event, if not this year, but next year.

Dave Gerczak:
Well, thanks so much for having us. We appreciate it.

Alex Kaganovsky:
Thanks Ryan.

Ryan Knuppel:
I really appreciate you guys. Thank you so much. Audience really appreciate you tuning in. That was Dave Gerczak, Alex Kaganovsky of the FFPC. Great guys in the industry doing some great things in Fantasy Football. Really, thank you guys for your time, and if you ever need anything, you know how to get a hold of me, Ryan Knuppel on LinkedIn, noobsports.com, part of the sports 2.0 network. Thank you for tuning in, until next time, take care. We’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

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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.

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