Nicholas Wright is the Co-Founder at Dribble, a recently launched daily fantasy football app on iOS. With stats powered by Opta, and a smooth operating system which focuses on contests between friends, it’s looking to carve out a chunk of the burgeoning European fantasy market for itself.
The legality of real money fantasy contests is a hot topic in courthouses across the US right now and with the launch of DraftKings in the UK,and a host of other European operators making a lot of noise, Dribble has entered the market at a particularly interesting time.
SBC: It’s an interesting time for the DFS industry in Europe right now, with an increasing number of operators and players. Do you see Euro 2016 as the tournament which will see the popularity of DFS skyrocket in Europe?
Nicholas: The spotlight is well and truly on daily fantasy sports this year, and Euro 2016 is going to be one of the best platforms to help DFS hit the mainstream.
With bigger marketing campaigns in the pipeline, I think we will see DFS get its first real jump start during Euro 2016 and then skyrocket around the Premier League 2016/17 kickoff.
SBC: Should DFS operators focus on converting typical sports betting customers, or cast their nets wider to those sports fans that haven’t shown a tendency to gamble?
Nicholas: Both. For games like Draftkings and Mondogoal with large pools and big cash prizes, their most likely customers will be the UK punters who are used to cash prizes, big odds and large payouts. Someone who uses accumulators will most likely want to try entering a £10,000 pool.
For games like ours, we will be casting our net to the wider pool of sports fans and fantasy players. Whether a user has tried daily fantasy or not, they can easily play the Dribble. All it takes is a few quick minutes and they are in a head-to-head game against their mate. The more users play, the more confident they become which leads to throwing a few quid on games.
SBC: One issue of daily fantasy over season long is naturally that players have no need to return to the same operator week on week. What’s your retention strategy? Achievements and a focus on a career are mentioned…
Nicholas: Retention is definitely going to be the winning ticket amongst the DFS operators. We have made this our priority since day one. I believe we have only scratched the surface but essentially what we are doing at Dribble is building a platform in which you can build a daily fantasy career alongside your favorite clubs and managers – something that our users “invest” in and are proud of.
To date, we’ve created our loyal user base by implementing small habit forming features such as unlockable achievements (such as “100 club” – winning 100 games), leaderboards, a newsfeed to stay up to date and a fixture schedule to have all the necessary info in one place. We plan to expand upon these types of mechanics, in addition to continually improving the experience. Expect exciting things from Dribble over the next year.
SBC: How long has Dribble been in the development stages and what research went into the market pre launch?
Why was the decision made to focus on iOS, and why five a side?
Nicholas: The founding team spent the early months of last year evaluating both the US and UK DFS markets before deciding to proceed with Dribble. We are DFS players ourselves and saw the US market exploding while there was a massive gap in the market for football fans.
We began development in May 2015 after Daniel Qu and myself decided to make the jump over to London from California to pair up with Rupert Brenninkmeijer. After alpha testing, acquiring our license and raising an angel round, we soft launched for the start of the Premier League. We are a product focused team and are constantly iterating the app based off feedback from working with our users.
We chose iOS first because the team has a history of iOS products and there is plenty of market here for iOS. We chose 5-aside football for two reasons; first, it works better for quick and casual gaming. Our mobile users appreciate the fact you can build a team in minutes when you’re on the train, in the pub or on the loo. Secondly, because we play a lot of 5-aside football ourselves.
SBC: Your own background is varied, from creating Pilot Reader to founding Dark Timbers, an outdoor apparel company. How did you end up in daily fantasy?
Nicholas: It’s been an interesting journey. After 4 years of building Dark Timbers, I wanted to explore the tech/startup space. I figured if you want to start a tech company, you should know how to build the product. As such, I taught myself how to design and the basics of front-end coding.
In 2013, I was working on my first tech startup and was introduced to Daniel at a Techcrunch event. Daniel had just gotten off the plane from his Yale graduation where he studied computer science and economics. We quickly became friends and started working on our first mobile project together about 10 months later (Pilot Reader). We built Pilot and another app over the next 4 months and launched them both on Product Hunt. Although Pilot was well received, we saw it more as a project and ultimately wanted to start a business together.
Around this same time, Daniel and I had been having a ton of fun playing some DFS games and we had been chatting with our good friend Rupert Brenninkmeijer about opportunities in the football market. We put the two together, teamed up and started our research. It all just kind of came together after that due to the guy’s hard work and others willing to help out.
SBC: What are your plans for the rest of 2016? What are you focused on?
Nicholas: We plan on staying focused on product and building the best experience out there for football fans.
Of course that means introducing other game formats and more leagues like La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Eredivisie, Euro 2016, MLS etc. Once we have drilled down the iOS experience we will then introduce an Android version.