The fantasy sports industry is in flux, which makes it ripe for the most innovate and entrepreneurial to see opportunities and take advantage of same. One such individual is Adam Wexler, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SidePrize.

Wexler created SidePrize, a product that simplifies the process of providing weekly cash contests for fantasy leagues, after successfully finding deficiencies in other industries and seeking to develop solutions therein. He established GoRankem, a Wikipedia type of website for music discovery; and Insightpool, a social relationship intelligence platform, before sticking it out with developing SidePrize as of June 2014.

Wexler could be deterred by recent events in the world of fantasy sports, including the New York State Attorney General's cease and desist to FanDuel and DraftKings, demanding that they stop accepting fees from players. Instead, he is as optimistic as ever, keeping his eyes on the prize and understanding that pivoting is key to survival.

What you start off on isn't necessarily what you finish with.

"We set out to originally help fantasy commissioners, because they have the most thankless job in the world, and landed on SidePrize, and realized that people want more action during the season," said Wexler. "It's really difficult to talk about the future, because we're literally just moving with the market. If you generally spot a problem area, that might not be the problem itself. Often it's the additional problems attached to problems you initially spot that truly matter."

Wexler's original prototype in the space was to help fantasy sports commissioners with the collection of money from participants, but he quickly found a market that already had entrenched entrants. He also realized that people did not necessarily mind using payment processors like Venmo and PayPal to manage their collections.

Wexler started to think about the number of other tasks that bog down a fantasy sports league commissioner, such as coordinating punishments, handling spreadsheets of different point routines, putting together the league constitution and buying trophies for the winners. That is when he had a moment of clarity and realized that people quickly lose interest in their season-long games, and there was a need to make week-to-week match-ups more interesting.

You have to be able to pivot throughout development.

Wexler and his team pivoted last November to what became SidePrize.

"We didn't start our business or make the pivot even knowing what [daily fantasy sports] DFS was," explained Wexler. "FanDuel and DraftKings probably played a non-existent role in what became SidePrize. It is ironic that that immediacy and attraction to daily fantasy is what we are now going after with SidePrize."

"With fantasy sports, it was honestly somewhat of a chance," added Wexler, "We threw out the problem statement, and sure enough, we entered at the perfect time."

Timing is certainly important to your success, but so is being nimble enough to pivot when the situation calls for it.

Being nimble enough to pivot may mean early sacrifices.

The entire exercise of dreaming by night and seeing it become something by day is exciting to Wexler, but it has also required that he give up a lot of the conservative guarantees afforded in more typical work environments. Starting something fresh and trying to be a pioneer can be more difficult, but also more exciting.

"I literally paid myself a minimum salary at my prior company; I never had too much flexibility financially," said Wexler. "Only when I took on a consulting gig with the Atlanta Hawks did things start to open up a little bit for me. It allowed me to get SidePrize through a whole year of working on it without taking a penny."

Wexler consulted on the Hawks' digital strategy after entering the music industry as digital music was evolving and then running a social media start-up as that industry was erupting, especially from a business-to-business perspective. It shows that even the most hardcore entrepreneurs can use a little bit of steady capital so they feel secure enough to start their next venture.

It takes time for you to succeed.

"It ain't an overnight success," said Wexler. "I started doing stuff on the web at 21 and I'm 30 now. Things have gotten a little easier as of late, but it definitely didn't happen overnight. You have to grind it out and persevere."

Published on: Nov 16, 2015
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