The founder of SuperDraft, Steve Wang, talks about how this DFS platform could be the next big player in the industry.
Show notes from Steve Wang Interview
Ryan Knuppel: All right, welcome back to another episode of KNUP Sports Show. I’m your host, Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Thank you for giving us a little bit of time out of your day to learn a little bit about daily fantasy sports, fantasy sports, igaming, whatever the topic of the day is. Today, I’m joined by an awesome guest. I have Steve Wang with SuperDraft. He’s with me today. Steve, thanks for joining me.
Steve Wang: Thank you for having me.
Ryan Knuppel: Hey, I’m excited for this interview. I’m excited to learn a little bit about what Super Draft is up to, and just understand a little bit about what’s going on in your world. So ,first of all, how are you doing? Hanging in there through this COVID pandemic that seemingly won’t go away?
Steve Wang: I’m doing good. I’ve recovered. I caught COVID back in May, and survived that. So, recovered pretty well. You’ll feel a little tired on and off here and there, but ready to go, to get some vaccine and look forward to a great recovery into next year.
Ryan Knuppel: I think everybody’s itching to see what 2021 has for us. We’re calling, just got to call 2020 the year to forget. And we’ll move forward into 2021. But let’s set that aside. Steve, give me a little bit of background before we get into Super Draft and into what you’re currently doing. Give me a little background on yourself and kind of where you’ve been to get to where you are today.
Steve Wang: Well, I’ve had an amazing journey, I started writing software when I was 18. Went through the high-tech industry and started doing my current company called Contour Design back in 1995. We built some amazing products in the field of computer ergonomics. So, I’ve been inventing, building products for the better part of the last 25 years. A lot of exciting products we’ve created through this time frame, the first, we created the first iPod cases and iPhone cases. But right now, our flagship product with over a million units sold is in the field of computer ergonomics. I’m foremost a technologist. Very fluent in software development, and here I am.
Ryan Knuppel: You’re with SuperDraft now so what brought you into this? You know, this fantasy space? What brought you into this industry? Obviously, you have a wide variety of backgrounds and lots of different areas. What brought you to this space?
Steve Wang: Well, I played season-long fantasy for over 20 years. I’ve also dabbled in the sports betting world on more than probably double that. I frequent casinos and play blackjack and baccarat. So, I love gambling and technology. I love building new products. I’d like to think about solving problems, increase, and create the next best thing. So that’s kind of how I got involved. And about three years ago, I invested in a company called FansCall which built a software app to predict the outcome of every at-bat in a baseball game. The company had really poor tech, but a good idea, but poor technology. So that company eventually failed. I acquired the company through an auction and started building software to create a game and I realized, wow, this is fun. So that product probably is way ahead of its time. So, I decided to get into the tech team that we built that was very, very competent. So, I said, let’s take a shot at building a daily fantasy platform. And that’s how I got into it.
Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. You know, the fact that you’re kind of combining all your loves and all your skills and passions into one area is really neat. That’s a cool backstory to get you here. So tell us a little bit about SuperDraft. Give us the thousand-foot view of what Super Draft is and, tell everyone listening, just a little bit about it.
Steve Wang: I realized early on that, as a season long player, I was kind of afraid of daily fantasy. And I found it kind of complicated and it’s kind of like a one and done, you don’t pick the right tool you’re done versus season long you can keep on adjusting your lineups. So I thought, how do I build a product that’s friendlier, that’s easier to play, that’s not as intimidating as the current fantasy sports. So the first thing I decided to do is get rid of the salary cap, and see if there’s a way with where we can, the player can draft any player they want. So we came up with this method of multiplier, which assigns a handicap or a multiplier to every individual athlete, and try to equalize the value of every player. So the expected outcome is all the same. So by doing that, you can basically build a team with any players you want. You could create eight players of all tier one, the Lebron’s, or you can mix and match. So the idea here is to create a simpler, easier game. And I think we’ve done that.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, that’s really cool. You know, I kind of joined in your sentiments that when daily fantasy came out, it just seemed, I don’t know what the word is… overwhelming. Just different, right, than what everybody had been used to with season long. The one and done analogy is a perfect analogy, because that is truly how you feel when you’re playing these giant contests with FanDuel or DraftKings. You’re either it’s like all or nothing, you’re either gonna win big or, okay, fine, maybe minimum cash or didn’t win anything. But it’s a very fine line there between like, it’s tough to enjoy it when you’re not, I guess, winning big right? It’s just a weird feeling. So tell me a little bit more about what I guess where you’re at with Super Draft? Is everything launched?
Steve Wang: Yes, we launched it last year. As you know, any product, you need to market it, you need to acquire users, you need to build some sort of critical mass, so that you can offer prize pools that are centered. And it’s kind of like, as soon as we make the contest too big we end up overlaying. We struggled through that for about a year. And we finally got to a point where we have probably 80,000 registered users, about 15,000 active paid players. We’re operating now in 37 states, and we’ve probably paid over $10 million in handle. So we’re there, we have a pretty loyal following base. We have a lot of players that love our technology, our user interface, our multiplier game mode, the overwhelming comments and much easier to build a lineup. It’s in the multiplier itself. You can have a player that has a two x multiplier, and when that player scores a touchdown at the end of the game, you could jump hundreds of positions. So the sweat factor is phenomenal. And so we were kind of at a point where we’ve proven our technology works. We’ve proven that as scalable. Now we just got to add more gasoline to the engine. So we’re kind of at a point now where we have quite a few investors interested in us to help us go up to the next level. So it’s a very exciting time for us. We’re starting to acquire a lot of industry experts in marketing and user acquisition. We’re ready to go to see if we can get to the next level.
Ryan Knuppel: Yes, congratulations on the success. You guys are that far down this path. It’s not an easy venture to take in this space, especially with some of the big companies already with their foot in the ground. You’re trying to catch up with them. So, congrats on that. Are you in every sport? What kind of sports do you guys offer as far as competitions?
Steve Wang: We probably have just about everything the industry leaders have. We have football, golf, MMA, NASCAR, hockey, baseball, NBA’s about to start. We cross all the platforms, we have a very exciting single game mode on Monday nights and Thursday nights and Sunday nights are single game modes gaining a lot of traction that we’ve gone from offering a $20,000 contests in our main event to Thursday, we’re going on with a $40,000 GPP. So it’s growing. Our single game mode is gaining a lot of traction. So we think we have everything from a technology standpoint, and the only thing we’re missing is a bigger prize pool. And that will come as the fans come back. Our user base is very sticky. We find that where we’re getting a lot of players winning on our site that they don’t win on other sites, because the competition there is really fierce. You’re dealing with a lot of sharks, a lot of highly skilled players, and I see it as a kind of a safe harbor for the casual DFS players. The contest sizes are smaller, but the competition is much friendlier.
Ryan Knuppel: And I think that’s one of the common problems with the industry is the new casual gamer doesn’t really have that idea of that’s what’s happening. They don’t even understand that the majority of some of these people winning the big contests on the big sites are truly sharks. I mean, there’s guys that it’s their full-time job to win on FanDuel and win on DraftKings. So when you say it’s a little friendlier competition, I mean, that certainly should appeal to the newcomer, somebody that just wants to enjoy it, and have fun with that upside of possibly winning a decent sized reward, but not feel like they’re constantly getting beat by the same people every time.
Steve Wang: We have players that have won $25,000 for first place that have never won that on FanDuel and DraftKings. So, they’re telling us “Wow, I can win here”. And the sharks don’t come on our site, because there’s not enough juice. So they don’t invest the time yet, so come get it while we’re still good.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, exactly. It looks like you guys are offering some sort of a first deposit bonus, and all of that as well, correct me if I’m wrong, but I see that out on your site and everything, right?
Steve Wang: Yes, we have pretty much the same level of deposit bonuses as our competitors. But you know, it is the user interface, the experience is phenomenal. So we focus on that. We are very focused on giving the user the best experience, making sure the payout happens immediately. So it’s been a journey. It hasn’t been easy, but I think our perseverance, I think our investment in technology first is starting to pay dividends.
Ryan Knuppel: I was going to touch on that just for a second, your entrepreneurial journey really intrigues me and you seem like a super laid back kind of guy, the kind that can handle anything. What types of challenges, you said it’s been a journey, you said it’s been a challenge, and we all know that business is always a constant challenge. What are some of the biggest business challenges you guys have come up against, that you’re willing to share here in the last few minutes?
Steve Wang: Well, finding the real solid tech people was a challenge, and to build a tech team. This is not easy stuff. The technology behind what we got is not easy. To build it out with five to 10 engineers, when our competitors have hundreds of engineers, it’s not easy. So acquiring talent is very difficult. We made sure our key technologists have had a stake in the company. So that was foremost, and then the next step as I call myself the CEO/investor. That’s a very difficult role to play. I founded this company to the tune of close to $10 million now out of pocket, and so some days I put my CEO hat on, as far as then I put my investor hat on, I keep on fighting myself. Should I or shouldn’t I? “Yes, everything will be great. Don’t worry, give us more money”, and then you put the other hat on we go, “Wow, we’re still not at break-even”.
Ryan Knuppel: I can imagine that is a tough balance right, with both those roles together. I can see you fighting with yourself internally.
Steve Wang: Yes, some days you just feel like, oh, why am I doing this?
Ryan Knuppel: That’s a common business feeling. I think as well, though,that you got to fight through and part of the journey. I guess it’s like you mentioned earlier, the journey of this has been long, and you guys are well on your way, which is amazing.
Steve Wang: So, failure is not an option.
Ryan Knuppel: Love it. I love that quote. That’s a good one. I’m glad you said that. Because you’re right. It’s just not an option and some of this stuff. Steve, what else? Any last words here? I don’t want to keep you too long. I know, you’re a super busy guy. Trying to get this thing rocking and rolling. But any last words or for anyone listening? There’s probably a few different crowds listening, right? There’s probably some that just want to play on Super Draft and want to be a part of this awesome platform just as a user, but then there’s probably people listening as well that have more of a business mind, and they’re probably thinking, “Man, I connect with what Steve is saying here from a business side” or possibly investor type people or anything like that. Anything you want to say to both of those crowds before you get off here.
Steve Wang: Yes, come check it out. Yes, I think you’ll be very happy with the product. I think even though we’re not very well known right now, I’m willing to wager that within the next year, we’re going to be probably the best up and coming DFS company in this space. I think our technology will start to really shine, and I think our prize pool will grow. I think outside the big two, I think we’re going to work to position ourselves to be the big player and grab that number three spot in this space. It’s an exciting journey, I think, here we come, let’s go.
Ryan Knuppel: If anybody wanted to get a hold of yourself, or anybody, somebody at SuperDraft, how would they do that?
Steve Wang: Our website is superdraft.io. There’s plenty of ways to send a message to me, and I’ll be more than happy to respond as fast as I can.
Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. Hey, one last question. You mentioned, you have a sports betting background, you love gambling, things like that. Any future for integrating betting or that side of things into SuperDraft? Or is that a whole other discussion for another time.
Steve Wang: Put me on the show again and I’ll tell you about our free role app. We’ve spent the last nine months building out a free to play sports betting app. It is awesome, and we can’t wait to roll that out the first part of next year. It is going to be where we’re going to be giving out lots of very exciting prizes, and they would be fully integrated, and you could win Super Cash. If you win Super Cash, you could come on to SuperDraft and play DFS.
Ryan Knuppel: I love it. That’s awesome. Well, I’m going to put that on my calendar for early 2021 to reach back out and have you on and you can talk a little bit more about the development of this free to play app. That’d be amazing. Steve, well, I will let you go. I appreciate you giving us a little bit of time here and telling us about SuperDraft. I urge everyone listening to get out there download the app, check it out. It looks awesome. Fun to play games, and, dare I say, easy to win. You can’t say easy to win because none of this is easy to win, but maybe easier than competitors.
Steve Wang: Easier to win and in some of our main contests we’ve had 40% of our uniques cash in.
Ryan Knuppel: Cool. That is awesome, Steve. Well, I appreciate your time. Thank you again for being here.
Steve Wang: Thank you very much for having me.
Ryan Knuppel: No worries. All right, that was Steve Wang of SuperDraft. Everybody, go check it out. Thank you guys so much for listening and tuning into the show. Until next time, stay safe and have a great day.
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