Entrepreneurs

From Sports Fan to Draft King: How Jason Robins took his company to the major leagues

Growing up, Jason Robins loved sports and wanted to turn his passion into a career. In 2012, he made that dream a reality when he co-founded DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG), the digital sports entertainment and gaming platform changing the way people around the world engage in fantasy contests and sports betting. Under his leadership, the company has secured a first-of-its kind partnership with Major League Baseball in addition to partnerships with ESPN, the National Hockey League, NASCAR, and dozens of National Football League, National Basketball League, MLB, and NHL teams.

Robins knows what it takes to be at the forefront of an innovative sports betting company and has changed how fans interact with sports teams. In a recent Public.com Town Hall with retail investors, Robins shared the lessons he’s learned as CEO of DKNG and gave his tips for budding entrepreneurs.

The below is excerpted from Jason Robins’ Public Town Hall, which can be viewed in full here.

Identify your company culture and core values.

Robins shared that collaboration is central to DKNG’s success: “We have teams located across the country and throughout the globe, so while we have a wide range of skills, roles, and capabilities, a willingness to take on challenges and adapt is a core tenant of what we look for in every employee. We also greatly value analytical thinking as well as a drive towards results.”

DKNG’s unique culture has allowed the company to continue to innovate: “What I love most about the DraftKings culture is the willingness to rally behind an idea or a concept. We have been through a lot as an organization, many battles and the team always seems to pull through in really big ways. We also pivot quickly if we need to and that is so important to keep up with the pace of innovation today.”

Learn from others’ mistakes and surround yourself with great people.

When asked for the best advice he received when starting DKNG, Robins quoted Oscar Wilde: ‘Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes.’

The best way to learn is to learn from others’ mistakes, Robins said. To do that, you should surround yourself with great people, whether that’s mentors, friends, employees, or co-founders.

“Companies don’t build themselves,” he said. “I’ve always thought that if I could avoid making mistakes by learning from others’ experiences, and not have to make the mistakes myself, I can avoid unnecessary setbacks.”

Social media is a great tool to grow your company.

Robins shared that social media was “instrumental to the growth and reach” of the company. Fantasy or betting wins are one of the biggest use cases for social, which led DKNG to adding social features directly on their platform.

Robins said, “We are seeing excellent feedback and adoption and are very excited about the potential for features like these as we continue to grow and expand our offerings.”

The company is also committed to using traditional and emerging social media platforms, such as TikTok.

Make sure you understand the legal and legislative issues affecting your sector.

“When DraftKings was truly a startup, our focus was DFS [draft fantasy sports], which is distinct from betting, but ultimately involved legal, legislative and regulatory issues,” Robins said. “Anyone who’s serious about launching a startup should absolutely do everything they can to understand the legal and political issues related to their product or industry.”

DKNG has worked closely with lawmakers over the years on DFS laws and regulations. This helped them expand into new states as online sports betting regulations were changed, as they already had a team in place.

There has also been interest in whether or not DKNG will accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Robins shared that crypto “is really interesting and will likely transform some entire industries and portions of others. We’ve looked into how we might utilize this form of payment, right now, we’re not able to offer it on our products. The payment methods we can accept are determined by the individual state regulators and, as of now, crypto is not an approved payment type in any of the states where we’re live.”

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