The purpose of Client Tell is to spotlight the incredible work of our clients, and to help businesses learn from and connect with each other. We sat down with Ed Tiryakian, Co-Creator of Fandex, to learn how this Durham startup is revolutionizing the online sports gaming industry.
It’s safe to say that Duke University is near and dear to Ed Tiryakian’s heart. The Durham native earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics and Russian in 1982, and his Master’s of Business Administration from the institution’s prestigious Fuqua School of Business in 2004. After years of experience in sports management and asset protection, and launching his own private equity firm, Ed returned to his alma mater to teach in 2010. He currently serves as a Visiting Associate Professor, mentoring the next generation of Blue Devils pursuing business economics, corporate finance, and sports business.
In 2017, one of Ed’s students approached him with a business idea that was the genesis of Fandex, a sports stock market where fans participate in free-to-play cash prize contests. Together the pair refined the business model and recruited sports analytics data students from Stanford University to write some algorithms for them. They then enlisted the help of a tech group in New York and New Jersey to build the exchange. The final step was to pitch leaders from professional sports leagues like the National Football League, National Basketball Association, who all loved the idea.
A Winning Concept
Fandex allows users to build their own portfolio of teams, watch share prices rise, and win real money. Prices are determined by preseason win or price totals and the number of games that a team is expected to win that season. Should a team exceed that preseason mark, their prices will increase. Win-loss record, injuries, trades, and draft picks all affect share price value. Each sport has a unique return model for how much prices will fluctuate by the end of the season. Even with fluctuations, users’ shares in a team never expire. They own that team’s shares until they decide to sell. Whenever they make a trade, they are guaranteed that Fandex will repurchase their shares in the future.
“Back in 2018, we received a buyout offer, but we turned it down and decided to go full board,” recalled Ed. The company has taken off in the last couple years, growing to 12 leagues and about 20,000 users today.” Fandex recently added an educational component, allowing students to utilize it in the classroom to expand their sports marketing and management knowledge.
The platform allows students and sports enthusiasts to see the current prices and trends for almost every major sport team. They get access to a detailed dashboard and powerful trend analysis tools that feature up-to-date news, numbers, and results so they can buy, sell, and short as they please.
Recruiting An All-Star Team
When asked to share his entrepreneurial wisdom, Ed advised: “I’ve been involved with a lot of companies in addition to Fandex, and I can tell you it’s so important for the management team to really be in sync. Even if you have the greatest idea in the world, it won’t take off unless your leadership is unified and myopically focused in the same direction. As you build your team, it’s critical that every member shares the same vision.”
When it comes to legal services, Fandex partners with the team at Fourscore Business Law. It gives Ed confidence and peace of mind knowing that Fourscore can help with the company’s legal needs and will help him find the right people to assist even when non-legal issues arise. He remarked:
“When you’re looking for ancillary services for your startup, it’s key to surround yourself with professionals who will blanket you with support. This helps entrepreneurs stay focused on their innovations, and not get pulled down with things they shouldn’t be spending their time on. I can call Jesse with my questions, and I know he’ll always give me a solid recommendation. The fact that he always knows exactly who to call is crucial.”
To learn more, visit Fandex.com.