October 2004. At the bottom of the ninth inning, Keith Foulke. A man on second base. Two outs. Frenetic fans on Busch Stadium are shouting and cheering up a team that hasn’t won for over 86 years. At bat, Edgar Renteria. He swings and it’s a rolling, from 1 to 3 and is the out 27th… The grandstand bursts out of joy. Boston Red Sox have won their first World Series since 1918. But nothing like living it from Joe Buck’s words: “Back to Foulke! Red Sox fans have longed to hear it… the Boston Red Sox are World Champions!”
Is it good luck? Has the Curse of the Bambino been broken?
No. It was about statistics. Manager Terry Francona had adopted a game philosophy where each player is analyzed depending on their performance and they are located in the correct position for the game. This sports strategy was developed by Billy Beane in 2002 with the Oakland Athletics, achieving impressive results.
The excitement of the game is to win a match, but also to test if strategies and positions stipulated before can work.
Chalk, Daily Fantasy Sports was created to give this kind of feeling: to be the Manager of a team. The company was created in Barcelona, Spain, in June 2015. Since its creation, Chalk has been making its way into the European market. Its users can create a team of professional athletes for a single day tournament where they compete against teams created by other participants. They earn points based on the actual performance of athletes in their own clubs, and the team with the most points at the end of tournament wins a prize.
At this moment, they have various sports such as Formula 1, Mexican Football League, Spanish League, English League, Champions League and the NFL.
The Chalk team includes Luis Arreaza, Carlos Crespo, Ignacio Morales, Cristian Caroli, Andres Mendoza and Adrian Matteo. They are a group of young Venezuelans with several years of experience in game development, business and web programming.
The idea originated in 2014 and it took almost a year to develop the product. The launch took place in Mexico because they saw a big opportunity in the market which had a large NFL and football (soccer) fanbase.
For the platform’s launch, Chalk worked with the famous footballer Miguel Layun of FC Porto and Mexican National Team. Moreover, they talked to different journalists and social media influencers like Joshua Maya, well known as @PlaysOfTheWeek, and Fox Sports Mexico narrator Gustavo Mendoza.
“Chalk aims to be accessible and fun. When people come to play, it’s not just for the money, but for the entertainment”
Entrepreneurship is not always an easy decision, but Cristian Caroli insists that when one had a dreamt about a project, one has to take a leap to uncertainty. “It’s more profitable to wear on a suit and go to an office from nine to five, but it is not our way. Being your own boss and answer to your own work is very satisfying. Some people like to have more freedom and that, in the end, is to take a leap of faith.”
The leap of faith walks with a hunch about business. That’s what happened to Trevor Dalglish, who worked for a year and a half in DraftKing, one of the most important companies of Daily Fantasy Sports in the world, and after turning down several times other job offers, he accepted to move his life to Barcelona and to believe in those Venezuelan entrepreneurs. “(I saw in Chalk) the high potential in the market. Basically, Daily Fantasy Sports was only known in the US, making any other country a clean slate. Different laws apply to it, different restrictions that allow a potential product to be more creative. Chalk and I recognized that and it was a good match. I’m impressed about the team, everybody came from different backgrounds and everyone was very passionate about this project.”
Gambling: the controversy
Recently, FanDuel and DrafKings, two of the most important companies of Daily Fantasy Sports, have been on the spotlight due to its implications of being considered gambling.
Luis Arreza, CEO of the company, says Daily Fantasy Sports is a hybrid. “What’s important (in DFS) is the ability of the person in the game. It has many elements but knowledge is the most important thing. The reason for regulations is due to the aspect of money, but skills are predominant”
For his side, Caroli says: “(…) betting is to play, the fact that there is money involved it gives a serious tone to the play and have more excitement. But it’s up to the player to get that balance. It is to put money for entertainment “
A test on the GreenField
Fantasy Sport is one of the most lucrative businesses nowadays (just the Drafking´s revenue of 2014 was USD 304 millions) but it looks like the most important markets are USA and Canada.
Europe is not apart from Daily Fantasy Sports: La Liga, Comunio, NetLiga are already into this activity, but they have not reached the success the American model has.
“The European market on gambling issue, is much more mature. (The public) is traditionally much more used to bet on sports (…) we have turned Chalk in a game, the way we communicate with the user. Highlighting the funny part, especially its accessibility and compatibility” says Luis Arreaza.
“Daily Fantasy Sports is more about engagement; it is higher entertained factory. When I start playing DFS, I was watching games that I’ve never watched before; I mean, I picked a player and a team while a watching games” says Dalglish.