Shergul Arshad – Mondogoal – Partnering Up

Mondogoal is a Boston-based company which has crossed the Atlantic to become the largest DFS platform in Europe.

It has partnerships already in place with an impressive list of clubs including Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, Valencia, Roma and Barcelona and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Over £1 million has already been won on the platform in which players are able to pick players from across a host of leagues from the Premiership to Mexico’s Liga MX.

SBC spoke with CEO Shergul Arshad about the importance of partnerships for growth, and his predictions for the future of DFS in the States. Arshad and the Mondogoal team will be present at ICE Totally Gaming 2016.

SBC: Shergul, good to talk to you. Congratulations on your recent deal with Sports Interactive. How did this deal come about, and why did you decide to opt for a move away from your usual focus on partnerships with football clubs? 

Shergul Arshad, Mondogoal
Shergul Arshad, Mondogoal

Shergul: Thank you! The deal with Football Manager came about via our new Head of International, Richard Graham.

Richard joined Mondogoal with over 20 years of experience in football and rugby and was most recently CEO of the Commonwealth Games.  We had great calls with the SI group, and realized that there could be tremendous overlap in the audiences.  They are able to rapidly monetize a vast base of Football Manager players with a format of fantasy football that doesn’t cannibalize their game in any way.

As for clubs…who said anything about moving away from them? We are on the verge of announcing a few more club relationships. Mondogoal’s growth will come from a series of partnerships. These will be in media, football clubs and leagues, gaming sites and via our own direct marketing and advertising.

SBC: Football Manager has a huge and fanatical fanbase. As football fans first and foremost there is doubtless some crossover in interest with Mondogoal’s product. How are you intending to entice them to give it a go initially, and then how to keep them playing regularly?

Shergul: We will be providing some incentives and large prize pool contests. They will be reached via Football Manager direct emails and social media posts to entice and convert users in our cash play regions: UK, Ireland, parts of the US, Canada and on in Italy.

SBC: With the current state of DFS in the USA, when do you envisage these investigations being over and what do you believe the outcome will be?

Shergul: I’ve maintained the same stance from day one. We went to markets with licences understanding that for legal certainty and player protection, licences are a guarantee.

There was never any guarantees in the US and it always felt like DFS could be lumped together with online poker as a skill game that is still a form of gaming.  I envision many if not all states to ban DFS until sports betting, online poker and DFS are all brought back at the same time. So in essence, the states will fall like dominos in one direction and then all come around once regulation and online gaming comes back. But that may be three to four years from now. In the meantime, we can be glad that we didn’t waste advertising dollars in the US.

Can you imagine the waste on $250m (£175.5m) ad buys with ESPN when many states ban DFS?

SBC: You operate out of Boston, Ireland and the Isle of Man. You touched on the fact that you’ve had approaches from operators in other regions including Africa and India. Could you elaborate on this?

Shergul: Sure.  We set up Mondogoal to be global. Overtime, we want to be synonymous with Fantasy Football the way Pokerstars is synonymous with online poker.

Global expansion takes resources, time and careful planning plus partnerships. We are seeking partners for expansion, and are looking to close incremental financing to finance expansion of tech, marketing and globalization.

SBC: You’ll be speaking at ICE in February. What’ll be the main focus of your talk and what else are you looking forward to at ICE? Are there any products or companies you’re keen to check out?

Shergul: ICE is a major opportunity for Mondogoal to show the gaming world how fantasy football can be entrenched in the new gaming landscape.  Unlike most DFS operators who do a lot of talking, we have set our course firmly towards Europe and expansion. We have licenses in multiple territories and partnerships with the likes of Chelsea, Barcelona, Tottenham, West Ham, Roma and more.

We just completed a massive deal in Italy with Intralot so we are proving capabilities to integrate with other operators. For us, ICE represents a chance to strike some deals with gaming operators, investors and to network with people interested in DFS.

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