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FantasyDraft On the Rise: An Interview with CEO Stephen Krombolz

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Aug 30, 2017

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It’s been an eventful year for daily fantasy sports (DFS), with an almost-merger of the two biggest operators, several new state laws coming into play, and a few DFS sites calling it quits — one of which got ugly. FantasyDraft, which first came on the scene in 2014, has outlasted all of the smaller operators and has risen to be the no. 3 player in the space.

We connected with FantasyDraft CEO Stephen Krombolz to talk about FantasyDraft’s plans, and about the industry as a whole. Here’s what he had to say.

Card Player: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. It’s been quite a year for daily fantasy…

Stephen Krombolz: There have certainly been a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns. We have come a long way since 2015, we now have 15 states that have passed DFS legislation and we will probably see a few more passed this year.

CP: That’s almost a third of the country. What’s FantasyDraft’s stance on this? Do you support regulation?

SK: We wholeheartedly believe that sensible regulation is an unqualified positive for the industry. It removes uncertainty from the market, and ultimately increases consumer trust in our product. That is why we have sought licensing in every state that has passed a law, including Virginia and Indiana where we have paid the $50,000 registration fee.

CP: Speaking of uncertainty and trust, it hasn’t been all good news for daily fantasy this year. We saw a number of small operators go out of business including FantasyAces who declared bankruptcy with all of their players’ funds gone.

SK: Yes, the FantasyAces closure was a very bad situation. We had seen this happen in previous years on a much smaller scale but this was obviously a much larger problem, to the tune of $1.3 million.

CP: But then FantasyDraft stepped in…

SK: That’s right. We saw an opportunity to help the players and the industry. Thousands of players losing their deposits is a major black eye for the industry. Like I said, players need to be able to trust the platforms on which they deposit their money. The FantasyAces situation had the potential to erode that trust. And frankly, it was the right thing to do.

CP: But this wasn’t all about charity, right? You saw benefits for FantasyDraft as well.

SK: That’s true, as CEO I have to make decisions that are in the best interest of our business. But after much analysis we felt that this was one of those situations that while risky, covered all of the bases: good for the players, good for the industry, and ultimately good for FantasyDraft.

CP: So, we’ve touched on the industry. What about FantasyDraft? What would you say has been the biggest moment or accomplishment of the past year?

SK: We’ve been fortunate to hit several milestones over the past year. We launched our iOS app, saw exponential year-over-year growth, and we ran our first Live Final. The PGA Live Final was a big milestone for us. It was held for the PGA Championship with 4 finalists competing for $20,000 on the grounds of Quail Hollow here in Charlotte. I expect we will see many more milestones reached during the upcoming NFL season.

CP: It sounds like you have had quite a year.

SK: Yes, it’s been a great year and it’s just getting started! I do think it is important to point out that one of the main drivers of the growth we have seen is our core principle of Players First.

CP: Can you talk us through your ‘Players First’ principles?

SK: ‘Players First’ is our overriding philosophy. It’s what we were founded on and is based on the goal of building a sustainable healthy ecosystem of players on FantasyDraft. We think that daily fantasy should be fun and fair for everyone, not just the top players. It’s why we have lower max-entry caps, more flexible lineup construction, and lower rake than our competitors. In fact, lower rake for us means as low as no rake!

CP: No rake? I know our readers will like that. Go on…

SK: That’s right. All Head-to-head contests are rake-free on FantasyDraft. That means 100 percent of entry fees are paid out to the winner. We also give our players the ability to create public and private rake-free head-to-head contests with entry fees ranging from $2 all the way up to $5,000. Also, we allow users to block up to 25 players from entering their head-to-head contests, so if someone is picking up too many of your contests you can block and unblock them as needed. We’ve seen many thousands of users play these contests, so it’s been a huge success. We expect this to grow exponentially come NFL, so there is no shortage of competition.

CP: I think it is safe to say offering rake free contests fits the bill for Players First. Looking ahead, can you give our readers an inside scoop on your plans for the 2017 NFL season. Do you have anything big in the works?

SK: Yes, as a matter of fact we do have something big coming. First off, you can expect to see much larger GPPs that you have seen from us in the past. And something I am extremely excited about is FantasyDraft will be hosting our inaugural NFL Live Final this season. I can’t give you all of the details just yet, but what I can say is that it’ll have a seven-figure prize pool. It is a huge step in the progression of FantasyDraft to be offering our first prize pool in the millions! This will be a first-class event with significant money on the line for those who qualify, so keep an eye out. We will be announcing all of the details soon.

CP: That’s what I‘m talking about, a Live Final. We can’t wait to hear more. Be sure to give us the inside track, so we can get the word out to our readers. I know they’ll want to start working towards winning a seat.

SK: I sure will, you can expect an announcement very soon. It may even be out before this hits newsstands.

CP: We are happy to hear about the growth of your company and appreciate your time today. Best of luck this NFL season and I can’t wait to take a shot at one of those live final seats.

SK: Anytime, and good luck! ♠