Photo: Taylor Caby
28-year-old Taylor Caby, a professional poker player who started playing poker at the age of 14, wants to make fantasy sports more like poker.He co-founded a startup called DraftDay, which lets users create new fantasy sports teams every day and bet on their performance.
His company is backed by Lightbank, the venture capital firm founded by two co-founders of Groupon, Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell.
We caught up with him recently.
Business Insider: Why did you get into online fantasy business?
Taylor Caby: My co-founder, Andrew Wiggins, and I both spent time as professional poker players and developing educational businesses in the online poker industry such as CardRunners and Hold’em Manager.
We thought that the same principles that led to the online poker boom could lead to a fantasy sports boom. Fantasy sports should be easy and shouldn’t require a commitment of 6 months at a time. Just like online poker compared to live poker, short term fantasy sports games are faster paced, require a shorter time commitment, and offer larger payouts.
BI: There are other platforms like this. Tell me about them.
TC: Yes, there are about a dozen sites doing similar concepts such as Fanduel and Draftstreet.
BI: With all the debate over online gambling, don’t you think this is just another form?
TC: People don’t think twice about paying $50 for their office fantasy league, and our games follow these same legalities. The laws state that fantasy sports games are legal, and we follow them. We’re offering a skillful game and a great social experience, we aren’t trying to compete with the lottery or other pure gambling games.
BI: How has your company grown so far? How much money is being transacted?
TC: We’re over 10,000 users with over $2 million in payouts. We now have all four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) after just launching with NFL this fall.
BI: What do you do in your free time?
TC: Right now, mostly working. When things settle down, I’ll get back to playing basketball, going out with friends, and enjoying Chicago sports.
BI: Why do you like playing poker and betting on sports teams? What motivates you? Do you like winning? Like the rush?
TC: I love competing and winning. I never thought I would become a professional poker player, I just enjoyed the game and one thing led to another because I kept improving.
The same thing happened with our poker businesses, we took small risks and gradually grew and found bigger opportunities. I hope the same thing happens with DraftDay, these fantasy games are niche now, but I believe they will be the standard in fantasy sports within a few years.
I’m not really much of a gambler. I’ll take a gamble when I think I have an edge, but I’m not much of a risk seeker otherwise.