On a quest to continue to bring awareness to many facets of the sport business, interviewing Kelly Perdew was on the top of the list. As The Apprentice season 2 winner and sports aficionado, Kelly brings light to his success, how he became a winner, business of fantasy sports, and ‘What is the Apprentice winner working on now.”
KRISTEN SONSMA: Let’s start off by telling us about Fastpoint Games for those who aren’t familiar? And maybe a bit about what caught your attention about the company?
KELLY PERDEW: Fastpoint Games is a leading developer of live, data-driven games that enable clients to engage, reward and monetize their users. Data-driven games invest users in client content and services by making that content central to the entertainment experience and applying motivating game mechanics.
I love fantasy sports and was recruited to come build up the company. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and love a challenge. Fastpoint Games was a great mix of challenge, fun and passion. I always encourage people to align their work and passion – it will definitely increase the likelyhood of success.
KRISTEN SONSMA: Where do you see the future of online gaming?
KELLY PERDEW: It will continue to grow at a phenomenal rate. Not only are more and more people enjoying gaming online, many gaming mechanics are being applied to areas completely outside of gaming. For instance, creating competitive environments for call centers to increase efficiencies…developing fun features inside of training modules to increase retention…and many more. Massive amounts of dollars are being invested in this industry.
KRISTEN SONSMA: Fastpoint Games is your company that encompasses fantasy sports gaming. Could you have imaged the success and interest that exists in fantasy sports today?
KELLY PERDEW: Actually, I knew first-hand about the interest level – I’m an avid fantasy football player. I, two of my brothers, and nine other buddies are planning for what will (hopefully…come on NFL!) be our on our 11th season of a fantasy football league. Although I didn’t win last year, I have taken home the coveted “singing fish” trophy three of the 10 seasons. Fantasy sports allow users to fully engage with the athletes, teams and sports about which they are so passionate. There are over 30M US fantasy players and that number can swell to 100M for March Madness.
KRISTEN SONSMA: With the introduction of new media and the need for instant gratification for the next biggest and best thing, how are you keeping fans and businesses engaged with your brands?
KELLY PERDEW: Fans want to engage with their favorite athletes, teams and sports from every device and at any time. Our very flexible gaming platform allows for that. Additionally, we can configure games to support a very large number of features. One that is very exciting for fans is the cash competition component. Cash competitions in Fantasy Sports are legal in almost all states and add a very high excitement level to the already fun games.
KRISTEN SONSMA: With social media finding its way into brands around the world, has it had much of an effect on your business initiatives?
KELLY PERDEW: Absolutely. While many of our clients prefer to have their games only on their own websites, we can deploy all of our games in Facebook. We currently run our salary cap baseball games in Facebook and promote weekly cash competitions. We’ve developed many features for our games that leverage the social media hooks. Social media is not going away and if you’re going to compete you need to understand how to use it.
You are not new to the world of sports and social media having many accomplishments that include: President of ProElite.com, an online social network that provides tools for combat sports enthusiasts, where you raised over $40M, including $9M from CBS, and inked a 3-year exclusive deal with Showtime for airing its mixed martial arts (”MMA”) fights and televised the first network primetime MMA fight on CBS; AND President of the largest amateur sport portal on the web – eteamz.com – and helped build the company which is now serving more than 3.2 million amateur sports teams as part of Active Networks.
KRISTEN SONSMA: What do you think are a few skill sets you’ve acquired and implement that have made you so successful to get you to where you are today?
KELLY PERDEW: I feel very, very fortunate to have been able to work in the places I have to date. I actually wrote a book specifically about the leadership principles I believe are the most important for success. The book is entitled, “Take Command” and can be found on Amazon. For me, my strengths are in planning and perseverance….two traits that are needed to succeed, especially in start-ups.
KRISTEN SONSMA: Most think of working in sports as inside a professional sports team, while others might not have thought about creating businesses around sports. What advice might you have for those looking to follow in your footsteps?
KELLY PERDEW: You will always do better if you marry up a passion with your job. Getting out of bed every morning psyched about what you do will make a huge difference in your success with everyone around you – employees, partners, clients, investors, etc… Your attitude is contagious and if it is positive and excited, you’ll do so much better than trying to make things happen where you’re not that excited about it.
KRISTEN SONSMA: So I have to delve into your Apprentice experience if you don’t mind. As The Apprentice season 2 winner, what has that opportunity done for your career?
KELLY PERDEW: I firmly believe that there are many paths to success. If you set your mind to something, then you can make it happen. I was fortunate to be on the show and win and it has helped me tremendously. Winning provided me with a platform to write the book on leadership – Take Command. It also allowed me to be able to impact two charities that are very important to me: The USO (for our soldiers) and the National Guard Youth Challenge Program (helping high school dropouts get back on the right track). Without the exposure from the show it would have been more difficult for me to impact them. On the work side, it typically helps get media attention because it is a nice added hook – What is the Apprentice winner working on now? J
KRISTEN SONSMA: Are there any key takeaways from that opportunity that you were then able to apply afterwards?
KELLY PERDEW: Donald Trump is a master at using the media. I learned a lot watching him operate and try to apply his strategies with the businesses where I work.
KRISTEN SONSMA: How would you describe your strategy on the show that enabled you to get so far and end up as the Season 2 Winner?
KELLY PERDEW: Literally, the 10 Leadership Principles I talk about in Take Command are the reasons I won. I actually wrote the book to answer that exact question!
KRISTEN SONSMA: Are there any other new business ventures around sports that you think we should be paying attention to in the next 5-10 years?
KELLY PERDEW: My wife and I are angel investors in several companies and I mentor entrepreneurs via the Founder Institute program and frequently advise or become a Board member. Some of the companies I’ve been or become involved with include LinkedIn, Active Networks and Pandora (all three should be going public this year!) as well as more recent start-ups like Betterworks, TroopSwap, Klout, Parentella, and GatherGreen, all of which I’m very excited about. On the sports side I’ve avoided making any investments in start-ups so that I don’t have any conflict with Fastpoint Games, but I have seen some awesome plays in the mobile space as well as in the grassroots amateur sports area.
KRISTEN SONSMA: As we are always looking to give back to those just starting out their sports career and looking to achieve your level of success, are there any last pieces of advice you can share?
KELLY PERDEW: Stay focused. Reach out for help to the people where you might have a connection – alums of the same school, fans of the same team, whatever. Make contact and learn as much as possible about wherever you’re targeting. And then, focus on passion, planning, and perseverance.
KRISTEN SONSMA: What is the best way for others to get in touch with you who are looking to chat a bit further?
KELLY PERDEW: You can reach me via my blog at www.kellyperdew.com.