Riccardo Mittiga is the CEO of Asap Italia, a company which recently launched DFS brand Sportito. With the pending merger of DraftKings and FanDuel, and some of the ‘smaller big fish’ in Oulala and Mondogoal opting to switch to strictly B2B in the latter part of the year we spoke to Riccardo about the state of fantasy in Europe, and its future.
SBC: Why did you decide to make your entrance into the daily fantasy sports industry this year?
Sportito: Deciding to enter DFS in 2016 was a no brainer. After all the buzz generated in US in the past few years the industry enjoyed some growth with two companies (FanDuel and DraftKings) acquiring more than four million customers and over $350 million in revenue.
We were aware that Europe seemed to be the next region to be considered by all players in this industry. As a company we have a strong European background and assets (such as traffic and customer base) and therefore we’re in a good position to compete. Moreover, the conventional fantasy football has a significant following in Europe with an estimated player base of 8.5 million in the UK alone.
SBC: How much potential do you think DFS has in Europe? And is the future for independent companies in the sector, more B2C or B2B?
Sportito: Fantasy sports is massively popular in Europe which is largely thanks to the papers.
I myself have played fantasy football for more than 15 years. Of course it was a far more basic version with only limited data being utilised. DFS is disrupting this industry by adding more fun, more reliable data and, of course, more engagement.
At Sportito we will also remove the salary cap restriction, giving players the freedom to choose their players without making them work with a restricted budget. Now that the US has proven it can work and people are interested, the overseas market is coming alive attracting investments in the industry.
There is space for both B2C and B2B players. Pure DFS companies will face the challenge of competing both with direct competitors and with bookmakers. The success of DFS companies will be decided both by their background and how much they are focused and committed because being in the B2C is all about the level of engagement and fun you bring to customers.
SBC: You say two things that set you apart is that you protect new players from experienced ones and offer ‘more social networking features’, can you explain more about how?
Sportito: Protecting new players is a mission for the entire industry. We should learn from the experiences in other gambling sectors and apply the best practices from the online gaming world. New players need to be guided through the game. Our aim is to allow them to win as soon as possible by ensuring they compete with players on the same level as themselves. Customer segmentation and real time offers are vital in reaching this target.
Regarding the mention of social networking, we all should know that DFS is offering a completely new experience to the players. We bring real time data and statistics on players that the users can share with friends to get advice on their perfect lineups. DFS is definitely an experience to share.
Moreover the contests are created in a way that means you can form a group of friends before entering the game and compete with each other socially.
SBC: How pivotal a year for DFS is 2017; is it make or break to acquire new customers and turn them into returning players? What’s your initial strategy to become a known brand?
Sportito: A focus on the customer is the key for every b2c business from retail to travel. Because of this common ground we are inspired by leading companies bringing innovation in the industry. For example as is common for streaming on demand platforms, we will offer our clients a free month of usage so the players can experience the platform without any constraints or commitment.
Customers make wise choices and brand recognition is extremely important when you want to conquer a market. Sportito has developed a peer to peer brand awareness strategy that will help to boost our brand and at the same time explain the exciting aspects of DFS. We will be ensuring that we’re physically present where our potential players frequent. This includes being in stadiums, pubs, sports shops, football clubs, and more. We are assembling a team of ten in London to realise this plan.