The daily fantasy sports industry has had quite a year in 2016 with legal battles raging throughout the USA, many of which are far from over, and a number of operators stepping things up a gear in Europe. The big two of DraftKings and FanDuel entered Europe, despite the costly court battles Stateside, and smaller operatos such as Mondogoal and Oulala switched to focusing their efforts on B2B measures in the latter part of the year.
We spoke to Valery Bollier, co-founder and CEO of Oulala, about the year gone by for the company and the industry as a whole.
SBC: Has DFS grown throughout 2016 as you projected as the beginning?
Valery: 2016 saw DFS changing its status. It went from a relatively unknown product to becoming the next big thing.
As a result, many iGaming operators came to us directly to learn more about its potential. It is not an easy feat to foresee how and when a new market will cross the chasm between the early adopters and the mass market, but a simple look backwards can easily show us that 2016 will be remembered as the year when the crossing got started.
SBC: What made you opt to take Oulala down the focused B2B route?
Valery: The business plan that we wrote almost four years ago was written with one goal; that Oulala would become the leading DFS network for European football.
But because DFS was such a novelty in Europe, we had to prove the traction of the market and show that our product was the most innovative. Launching a B2C site was therefore almost an obligation for us. Oulala.com is now used as a showcase when we speak to possible B2B partners.
SBC: What changes need to be made in terms of game formats, or features, to keep ‘small time’ players coming back and to protect new players from sharks?
Valery: This is a very strategic question and the future winners of our sector will most probably be the ones that will answer it in the most efficient manner.
Benjamin Carlotti, the Oulala co-founder, and I carefully studied this question for the past four years and the answer can be summed up in one word; capping.
If you cap guaranteed prizes, the amount that a customer can put in a league and the amount of teams that one single individual can build in one league then you create an ecosystem in which sharks will not find
the space and liquidity that they require. By implementing a simple capping policy, you can ensure that statisticians will not win over fans. In doing so, you offer integrity to your customers and you will most likely gain their loyalty.
SBC: Will 2017 be a year of consolidation for the industry or do you expect to see new operators emerging?
Valery: The situation in the States and in Europe is radically different. Overseas there is no doubt that the merger of the two giants, Draftkings and Fanduel, will have a serious impact on small operators and we must ask ourselves if there will still be space for them and for new operators.
On the other hand, the merger is good news for Europe as the new entity will have even more power and funds to raise awareness of our new sector. Many new DFS operators will most likely emerge in 2017. In an early phase of market development, competition is critically needed, therefore we welcome them.
SBC: Oulala itself has had a successful year winning the Fantasy Product SBC Award among others…what can we expect in 2017?
Valery: We are proud to have won this prestigious award, which is also the only prize in Europe rewarding a DFS game. This was the perfect ending for a very rich year for Oulala. For the incoming year, we will now focus our energy on signing and deploying strong B2B partnerships with iGaming operators.
More than 50 of them have approached us in 2016 because they wished to know more about what DFS could offer, so there is no doubt that 2017 will be an Oulala year!