You may not know this, but DraftTeam is one of the original Daily Fantasy Sports sponsors of LuDawgs. Our community has been in the unique position to see this company reform, revamp, and ultimately reinvent itself over the past year. They’ve completely redeveloped the experience DFS players might have become accustomed to on their initial site, which was rolled out in 2012. Now, their Team is rolling out a monster tournament that you need to have some action in.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with DraftTeam CEO, John Buttedahl, to talk about their company, their product and their exciting plans for daily fantasy sports enthusiasts everywhere.
Brian Rucker, LuDawgs (R) – John, thanks for sitting down with us today. I think many of us have – at least briefly – considered what it might be like to start a daily fantasy sports website of our own. Very few of us have the means or the time to actually bring one to fruition. So I’m curious, what were some of the factors that led you and your team to ultimately make something like DraftTeam a reality?
John Buttedahl, DrafTeam CEO (JB) – Some of our principals were familiar with the iGaming sector before the UIGEA law was passed; they saw parallels to explosion of the poker boom 10 years ago. But even with 36 million avid fantasy sports fans in North America, we experienced firsthand the downside of season long pools. However, from the first time we played the daily model we quickly realized that many of the pitfalls were eliminated. We recognized the heightened level of excitement and instant gratification the game provides, so we knew it would be a winning endeavor that millions of sports fans would latch on to. We are privileged and excited to be in the space.
(R) – DraftTeam stepped onto the DFS scene in 2012. We ask this of everyone who sponsors our community, because I think we all know that it’s difficult to compete if you’re offering nothing new. It’s not impossible, but it’s challenging. That said, what advantage do you feel you have over other daily fantasy sports websites that are out there? What makes DraftTeam unique in the space?
(JB) – In the development of our new platform we have taken advantage of user feedback to determine what they want. While we take into consideration what existing DFS players are used to seeing , we are also driven to eliminate the pitfalls and confusion that a lot of sites have by getting rid of excessive clutter and unnecessary features. We strive to be the easiest platform to navigate, access and interpret results.
Although we’re racing to catch up in what can be seen as a competitive space, we have a lot of fresh ideas to bring to the DFS community. We feel with the over whelming positive feedback we’ve received from our users, we are in fact moving in a direction that will ensure success and also set us apart in the space.
(R) – Keeping up in an industry that is constantly evolving can become a struggle if you don’t have the right resources around you from a “people” perspective. There are some DFS sites out there with dozens of associates – from support, to product, to marketing. Then you have some that are small and nimble, who do all of their coding quickly and pride themselves in their ability to adjust on the fly. Talk to us a little bit about how many individuals DraftTeam is comprised of.
(JB) – In total, we have about a dozen individuals contributing to the success of DraftTeam with several more outsourced on an as-needed basis. Being a wholly-owned subsidiary of a publicly traded company (CNSX:IMD)(OTCPink:IXMD)(FWB:IMZ), we are in the unique position of reporting our business activities to the exchanges, so that requires some additional processes and resources.
We are extremely excited and passionate about the new platform that was launched in September of this year. It was a big business decision to make the change, so we are using developers that are feeding off their success with major poker sites and other high volume web businesses. They are using best practices which enable us to make daily deployments of new features, but there are still dozens of major changes still in the development queue. Some include new games, live scoring features and others will improve the interaction between players on the site.
(R) – While I was navigating around the DraftTeam site earlier, the first thing that jumped out at me is the fact that the site is very user-friendly, even involving a “how-to” video. You mentioned that one of your goals is to maintain one of the simplest sites for a player to use. Can you talk to me a little bit about interface simplicity? Why does your team believe simplicity and usability are key to attracting new daily fantasy sports players?
(JB) – We know that for many users, the daily fantasy sports concept is brand new, so we developed the explainer video to quickly show them what all the excitement is about. We’ve had very positive feedback and appreciate how far a short 90 second video can go in terms of educating the new user about the site.
The “best practices” I referred to earlier takes into consideration a simple interface, but couples that with user feedback. We purposely launched the new version with this in mind and the feedback we have been receiving is helping us develop much of the new functionality that is to follow.
This is why we are confident that we will be able to present a hyper-competitive platform with some surprise features. Our regular users can see how fast the changes are coming and the new platform is what is enabling us to accomplish this.
(R) – The guys at LuDawgs, and others who happen to stop by our community to check out this interview, are going to want to know what kind of games you all offer to your players? Are high rollers welcome at DraftTeam?
(JB) – We offer a salary cap format for the four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) with entry fees ranging from free to $500 per contest. Players can compete head-to-head, against a few, or a few hundred. We are considering getting into other sports and have plans to launch pick ‘em games, plus some others with unique features.
We welcome players of all skill levels as the site caters to all budgets and risk vs. reward formats.
(R) – Now this is what I really want to talk about, John. I could not help but notice the huge tournament that is happening in December. A $100,000 tournament with $25,000 to first place? That’s the kind of promotion you don’t typically see out of DFS sites that are just starting to gain traction. It’s impressive. Talk to me about how a player on DraftTeam can turn $2 into $25,000 in your $100,000 Tournament of Champions?
(JB) – The $100,000 Tournament of Champions gets players into the finals by winning just one of our daily qualifiers in their choice of Fantasy Baseball, Football, Hockey or Basketball. The entries fees are as low as $2 or up to $60; depending on how many others you wish to compete against. It’s really versatile and gives our members many options for reaching the finals played on NFL week #16.
(R) – That tournament will definitely have the forums here at LuDawgs going crazy. Quite frankly, I’m shocked that this isn’t getting more attention at this point. I’ve got to know more about what goes into running a contest of this magnitude, with a prize pool of this size. Talk to me a little bit about that.
(JB) – We wanted to reward our players with a good sized prize pool that was easy to play for. Everyday members are earning tickets into the finals with relatively low risk plus they get to pick their favorite sport as a qualifier. We’re excited about giving away the $100 grand and know that the first place check of $25,000 will go a long way for the champion.
(R) – Absolutely epic. I cannot wait to get in the action. A $25,000 check sounds incredible. Look for me on the leaderboard along with other LuDawgs members. By the way, what was it that made you want to become a partner of LuDawgs?
(JB) – Many of our most loyal members have come from the LuDawgs community. The forum has been a great source of information on how to address the needs of players and has helped us better understand the business. The feedback on the boards is very useful and we support all that LuDawgs brings to the industry.
(R) – From a leadership perspective, it must be a nerve-wracking decision to put your product out in front of a DFS community as active as we have here at LuDawgs. It’s incredible to see all of the changes that have been implemented at DraftTeam with the feedback from the community. It’s been completely revamped, top to bottom as far as I can tell. Great work. People are going to want to discover the new DraftTeam, so I have to ask, are there any sign up bonuses that would intrigue new members to join your site?
(JB) – Yes, we’ve come up with something very special for all LuDawgs members that deposit and play on DraftTeam. Since you asked about our $100,000 Tournament of Champions, we want to offer all LuDawgs referrals a FREE ticket ($109 value) into the finals for every $100 they deposit. Meaning, if they deposit and play through $100, we will give them a FREE ticket into the finals on December 22nd. If they deposit $200, we will give them 2 tickets. $300 equals 3 tickets etc. up to $500 and 5 tickets.
The best thing about this promotion is that LuDawgs members can still use their deposited cash to play and win our regular daily fantasy sports contests, knowing they’ve already secured themselves a place(s) in the finals, and a chance at the $25,000 first place check. We’ve never seen this type of promotion done before and we have limited seats available, so we encourage everyone to play today.
(R) – Just incredible. I mean, really. I don’t know of any reason why someone from here at LuDawgs shouldn’t be deep into this tournament, given the prize structure and the promo you mentioned above. It’s just awesome. A few more questions before we let you go, John. Are there any places out there where members at LuDawgs find out more about DraftTeam? (ex: Twitter,Facebook,Blog)
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(R) – Alright, last question I swear. Are there any big updates, contests, or events that members over at LuDawgs need to mark on their calendars?
(JB) – Well, I really think everyone should give the $100,000 Tournament of Champions a try. The odds of qualifying for the finals are better and more cost effective than most other online tournaments, plus the top 100 players in the finals will walk away with at least some prize.
Further to that I encourage LuDawgs members to keep a close eye on us. We’re revealing frequent deployments of new and fun features with many more to come…we’re excited to be able share them with you and like seeing all the new players joining daily.
(R) – Thank you for joining us today, John. There are so many exciting things underway at DraftTeam. We’re thrilled to have you as a long-time, official partner at LuDawgs. I can’t overstate the fact that everyone reading this has to check out the $100,000 Tournament of Champions and the ongoing evolution of your platform. Pass along our props to the Team!