Everyone that plays a part in the Daily Fantasy Sports world has heard of DraftKings. The professional playing a large percentage of their bankroll there, a novice player who made their only deposit industry-wide there, a newcomer diligently checking all of the options the expanding industry has to offer, or even a current DFS outsider who has taken an interest in the exciting new industry that has sports fans buzzing from coast to coast. Whatever the case may be, whatever level of knowledge and accompanying relationship one has to DraftKings, each one of us has a certain feeling or notion impressed upon us by the Daily Fantasy Sports mega-player. With this interview we will get a glimpse behind the curtain at DraftKings and learn more about the rise from start-up to DFS giant while meeting some key players from behind the scenes.
Today we’re lucky enough to hear from Jeremy McAuley and Scott Loiselle from the DraftKings Support Team who were willing to share with us what it’s like to hold that post. If you’ve ever sent a support request through to DK, these guys have likely fielded your request and were able to get you taken care of.
LuDawgs: Can you guys tell me what your first impressions were about the company you now work for and represent? Before you interviewed with the leadership at DK or walked through its front doors, what was it about DraftKings that made you want to pursue a formal role with the company?
Scott: I had played on the site prior to applying to work for DraftKings. As someone who likes sports, but is not a fanatic, I was never really attracted to traditional season-long leagues because of all the research, time and effort that you have to put into your lineups. I really liked the ability to play in a contest one night and not have to worry about that team the next night.
LuDawgs: Of course. And that is still one of the key draws for most making the transition from season-long play.
Jeremy: This was my first position of out college (I was a Sport Management major, so this company seemed like a perfect fit) and at the time I applied for the Brand Execution Associate position, DraftKings was still in its infancy stages. I was the 7th full-time employee hired (Scott was 8 as we started the same day) and at the time I accepted the position, the main goal was always to create the best user/customer experience of any Fantasy Sport (Daily/Season long) site around. The guys (Jason, Matt & Paul) took a chance on me coming straight out of school and I took a chance on them, with DraftKings and the DFS industry being unknown and I can confidently say it was the best decision I have ever made.
Scott (cont.): Before I interviewed with DK, I knew that they were going to be a game-changer. I knew some of the people that worked at DraftKings early-on and had faith that if they were willing to take the gamble on a start-up that it was going to be big. Also, knowing them, I knew that they wouldn’t settle for being in the middle of the pack.
Jeremy (cont.): Coming on board when I did, it gave me the opportunity to really have ownership of a department and build a great CS platform, which our users have come to expect now. Scott and I worked around the clock (pretty much 7 days a week 24 hours a day) to get DK customer ops to where it is now. With any start-up, long days and countless hours of work are always expected, but that was something I enjoyed as Scott and I built the Customer Operations department.
LuDawgs: How did the Daily Fantasy industry find its way into your plans? Obviously, it is a different road for many seeing that certain elite players have been making a generous living off of their DFS talents for years now and, most importantly, there remain to be droves of sports fanatics still making their way onto the landscape each and every day. How did DFS and, DraftKings especially, become part of your life?
Scott: Daily Fantasy for me was a way to enjoy sports more. I have always been a home-team guy – you kind of have to be in Boston. This was my way to see who else was out there and maybe what other games I should be watching to see the guys that are leading the pack, at least as far as Fantasy Points per Game.
I think that DFS has the ability to turn more casual fans, like myself, into more of a fanatic. It’s that ease of use that will pull users from traditional fantasy sports to DFS.
LuDawgs: Many of our reader’s at LuDawgs have had interactions with your support team directly at some point. I imagine this primarily is going on from shortly before kick-off, tip-off, or first pitch and can go well past the final whistle and into the late hours of the night. Before all the fan-fare and troubleshooting gets into full-swing, let’s talk about how a day starts out for you in your role as “Support Reps” at DraftKings.
Jeremy: I will arrive at the office between 8AM-8:30AM and that is when the day begins. I will start by clearing out all of the support tickets from overnight (starting around Midnight) and begin reviewing our deposits from the night before as well. I help our risk management team , so I am doubling in both those areas each day. Once Scott (or Ben arrives) in the office to begin their shifts, I will turn my efforts to reviewing the deposit trends. I will consult with Scott and Ben on all tickets that come in to ensure we are creating the best resolution to an issue (I am doing a couple things during the day, not just answering emails!). I will leave the office each day between 5-5:30PM however, my day does not end there. I am constantly monitoring the support box (kind of like being On-Call) to ensure that nothing major is occurring on the site/with our customers until 10PM or so each night. Scott and Ben do a fantastic job with the users, so I am not answering emails past 5PM. But, I make sure I keep myself in the loop to help them and stay informed.
Scott: Haha. I wish there was a typical day at DraftKings. It really depends a lot on the game lineup, what sports are live and if any big contests are running. I personally handle all of the CS reporting, so seeing what our response times are, how many tickets are coming in and at what time, our user satisfaction, etc, then using that information to help optimize the CS side of the business.
LuDawgs: How does your day tend to go on a slower weekday without any major events happening? Is there a constant source of support queries at a company that services such a vast player-base?
Scott: If it is a slow day, we will still receive a decent amount of emails, usually regarding bonuses, withdrawal questions, policy questions, etc. Being a startup, there are always things to do and help out with.
Jeremy: There is never much down-time in on the CS side, we receive a steady amount of emails everyday as we continue to grow our user-base. Even without a major contest/event occurring on the site, the average amount of tickets answered (per agent) is close to 50-75.
LuDawgs: On the flip-side of the coin, DraftKings is very well known for its tendency to push the envelope when it comes to “Big Events” and never shies away from ground-breaking prize pools. We all remember the Millionaire Grand Final and its $3.1 Million prize pool earlier this year. The live event at Atlantis is up next – which is out of this world. What’s it like working an event of such magnitude like we saw with the Fantasy Millionaire? Is there a buzz in the office?
Jeremy: The two weeks leading up the Fantasy Millionaire were certainly hectic and an exciting time in the office. The week leading up to the big event, support was non-stop busy and due customer acquisition new users were also emailing in at a rapid pace regarding the event. The day of the event, I personally was focused more on reviewing all incoming deposits and making sure all users whom were registered for the Fantasy Millionaire were within our permitted jurisdiction.
Scott: It was amazing to see how far DraftKings has come. When Jeremy and I started in September 2012, we were running a “HUGE” $150K contest during NFL season. That was the biggest one. Just a year later, we were running a $1M contest week 1, then the $3.1M contest. It was sort of an all hands on deck situation here at DK. Most people were in the office. There was definitely electricity surrounding the contest. We were all making bets on how many people would enter before it went live.
LuDawgs: How does an event like the Millionaire Grand Final or one of the many other six or seven-figure events carry over to the two of you specifically as part of the support team?
Jeremy: With every major event we have offered ($250K Main Event, Mid-Summer Classic, Kickoff Million and Fantasy Millionaire, and the upcoming 3.3 Million Dollar Legends Series Fantasy Baseball Championship Live at Atlantis) the support requests have increased dramatically. With each event, come more questions and tickets to solve. The hours leading up to the contest beginning are always the busiest and tickets come in at a rapid pace. As the company has evolved, we (support) have as well. We have brought on additional resources for help and other members of our team (including our payment processing department) will lend a hand with CS on days like that.
Scott: I think the biggest thing is that Jeremy, myself and the rest of the CS team have to be prepared for any questions. Whether it is a marketing offer that goes out or the payout structure of the contest itself, we need to know the ins and outs of everything going on – hopefully before our users do. We are on the front lines and the first point of contact for our users. We need to be knowledgeable and direct them to the right answers for those events.
LuDawgs: Is there a memorable event that stands out in your mind due to the atmosphere or possibly something that happened specifically involving yourself?
Jeremy: The most memorable event thus far, would certainly be the Fantasy Millionaire contest. The entire company was in the office on that Sunday morning and the buzz around the event/office was unlike any other we’ve experienced. Watching the entries pile in to the contest was not only a thrill, but by the time the contest closed a feeling of accomplishment was easily felt within the whole office. Every department from Marketing, business dev, engineering and support really rallied together and made the contest extremely successful. Everyone in our office is so talented and it’s a pleasure to work with each of them every day, especially when we can all rally around an event like the Fantasy Millionaire.
Scott: I don’t know if this is necessarily a memorable event, but more of a gradual then very sudden growth of the company. When Jeremy and I started, we were probably the 9th and 10th employees at the company and had plenty of room in our seemingly endless office space. Now, at almost 40 employees, we are rapidly growing and are looking for a bigger office space.
LuDawgs: Alright, Jeremy…for you specifically…Can you tell us how you like working in Boston? Were either of you from the general area initially or have you moved there in light of your work? If so, how have you taken to the culture?
Jeremy: I’ve lived in Massachusetts my entire life, growing up on the south shore. Boston has always been home and I love that DK is/wants to be based in Boston. Most tech companies are on the west coast, but DK is really looking to be the “beacon” of the online gaming industry on the east coast.
Taking the “T” (that’s the subway here in Boston) can be a huge hassle, but being able to work in the heart of Boston for a company I love, is definitely worth it. Over the last 15 years, some can say Boston has become “Title Town” with the successes of our pro teams. In my opinion it only makes sense to have the best DFS site located here too, right?
LuDawgs: In your opinion, how would you say the start-up scene is in Boston?
Jeremy: The startup scene here in Boston is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Boston is becoming a “hot spot” for startups with companies like DK, Wayfair, DataXu, Karmaloop and many more. It’s a great feeling to be part of a startup and watch it grow (along with the other great startups in the area).
LuDawgs: Outside of the office, whenever that may be, do people know what DraftKings is when you tell them where you work? What is the general consensus when explaining it to folks who had no clue prior to meeting you?
Jeremy: Yes and no. When I first started at DK, my friends and family had no idea what I did or where I worked. However, as we grew and our marketing channels began to expand to national TV and radio, our exposure has increased significantly. I receive texts and phone calls all the time from friends/family letting me they saw our commercial on ESPN or another channel.
Before many of my friends would say “Where do you work? What do you do again, Fantasy Sports?” Now since we’ve grown it’s more like “I wish I worked there!” and “You have the coolest job on earth” (which isn’t too far from the truth! I mean working in Fantasy sports, is something I never thought possible when I was younger)
LuDawgs: I know you guys have spent a lot of time building up the brand and with that come long hours. Ever slept at work? If so, do you have a designated area you prefer to crash in?
Jeremy: Haha, there have definitely been times where I wanted to crash and take a nap, however I have never done so! In the “early days” of DK (when there was 8-12 of us working here) we used to have couch that would have been suitable for naps, but I never took advantage of it!
LuDawgs: What is your CEO Jason Robins like?
Jeremy: Jason is an incredibly talented and intelligent individual, who works tirelessly (literally I don’t think he sleeps more than 3 hours a day!) to make DK what it is/what is becoming. His knowledge, passion and vision of DFS is far superior than anyone I know, and I couldn’t ask for a better captain to guide this ship. Jason along with the other co-founders (Paul & Matt) have invested so much into DK, it sets the bar for the rest of us here.
We all work extremely hard and every single employee strives to be an all-star. That comes from the attitude set by Jason and having a CEO with that mentality is something all companies should want.
LuDawgs: When things are slow enough to get a laugh in, who is the biggest clown around the office and why?
Jeremy: We have a bunch of characters in the office and the atmosphere is great for all. With that said, I think our customer experience associate, Ben may take this crown! Ben is always good for a joke and his lively personality is a good complement for that.
LuDawgs: It’s been a pleasure finding out about the work you do so that all of your players have a memorable experience. From all of us at LuDawgs, we commend you for your efforts in making DraftKings, Inc. what it is today, which is nothing less than a memorable and innovative industry leader.