As DraftKings and FanDuel battle for the title of biggest DFS site in the world, FantasyAces seems content with staying out of line of fire and grabbing a smaller, yet lucrative, share of the industry.
The company was founded in 2012 by brothers Trent and Bryan Frisina, with Trent quitting his job as a commodities broker to work on the site full-time. With the contribution of their father, the brothers put together a modest $100,000 investment, and were initially unable to pay Trent a salary for his 40+ hour weeks working on the business.
The men first pitched their daily fantasy vision to an analyst friend of their father’s, who quickly told them that the industry was already “accounted for.” Unfazed, the brothers decided to start the site anyway, and added that the same analyst was now playing DFS on their site.
Just before FantasyAces was set to launch on opening day of the 2013 baseball season, Trent’s wife went into labor. His colleagues advised delaying rolling out the site, but Trent was determined to launch on schedule. While lying in a hospital bed next to his wife, his phone buzzed nonstop as the site opened for business.
Small fish in a big pond
The brothers believe that if the site can grab even a small chunk of the entire DFS market, it can make substantial profits. “Do they have a real shot at being that number three [dfs site]?,” said Adam Krejcik of Eilers Research. “I think so. People like their site, and the growth is there. In five years, 5% of a $20 billion industry could be pretty meaningful.”
In the early days of the site, the company’s precarious position led its owners to turn down major deals which could have resulted in disaster, had they gone south. In one early deal, the brothers rejected a partnership which would have given away 40% of the company, and netted them between $5 million and $6 million. Bryan refers to the company strategy as “staying in its own lane.”
In another potential deal, the site was forced to turn down the Los Angeles Clippers, who wanted to partner with FantasyAces and make them its exclusive daily fantasy provider. The NBA team quickly switched gears and inked a deal with DraftKings, which has recently been aggressively cultivating partnerships with major league teams and sports organizations.
While they would’ve liked to have made the deal with the Clippers, it would’ve been a risk to high for the nascent company. “We just weren’t there yet,” said Trent. “If we did the deal, and it didn’t work, it would have been a massive failure.”
At the moment, the brothers seem content with Fantasy Ace’s place in the DFS hierarchy, and have found popularity in live events. “This is their niche,” said DFS pro Tommy Gelati. “This is what makes them special.”