Interview With Kelly Perdew, CEO of Rotohog
I am a big fan of Kelly Perdew. A mutual friend of ours, Joe Favorito, suggested that I invite the einner of Season 2 “The Apprentice” and CEO of Rotohog to the 2009 UF Sports Law Symposium. I took Joe up on his suggestion and Kelly provided some great insight for everybody in attendance. I then bumped into Kelly at a Super Bowl event in Tampa while he was celebrating his birthday. I am not sure which number birthday it was, but by looking at Kelly, you would not know he was any older than twenty-five. That being said, looks do not matter much. He has accomplished a lot in his young life and is a innovator in the business of sports. Joe Favorito again reached out to me with the idea that I interview Kelly for SportsAgentBlog.com. The result is below.
Darren Heitner: You went from winning the Apprentice to founding a successful fantasy sports platform. Fill in the space between. What are some interesting things that happened at that point in your life?
Kelly Perdew: I HAD A GREAT YEAR IN NEW YORK WORKING FOR DONALD. I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT REAL ESTATE AND EVEN MORE ABOUT BRANDING. I’VE ALWAYS LOVED SPORTS AND HAVE BEEN IN A 12-MAN KEEPER FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE WITH MY TWO BROTHERS AND NINE BUDDIES FOR EIGHT YEARS (OF WHICH I’M THE 2 YEAR RUNNING SUPER BOWL CHAMP – CAN YOU SAY ‘THREEPEAT?!!!” – SORRY COULDN’T RESIST). WHEN THE RECRUITER CALLED AND ASKED IF I’D BE INTERESTED IN RUNNING A FANTASY SPORTS GAMING COMPANY WITH INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS LIKE MISSION VENTURES, DFJ DRAGON, AND ALLEN & CO, I JUMPED AT THE OPPORTUNITY!
Darren Heitner: How has having a law degree been beneficial in your life? Do you think it is necessary degree or even something that should be sought after by sports agents?
Kelly Perdew: CRITICAL THINKING HELPS YOU IN EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. BEING ABLE TO BREAK DOWN A PROBLEM TO ITS ROOT DRIVERS AND LOGICALLY DETERMINE POTENTIAL OUTCOMES IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS. OF COURSE, IT ALSO HELPS YOU KNOCK DOWN THE LEGAL BILLS WHEN THEY COME IN! 😉
Darren Heitner: What are some of the big sports law issues that fantasy sports platforms are currently battling? What do you believe has the potential to create potential legal problems in the future in your space?
Kelly Perdew: THERE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE SOME TENSION BETWEEN THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND OWNERSHIP OF INFORMATION TO INCLUDE STATISTICS, LIKENESSES, LOGOS, AND THOSE TYPES OF THINGS. FORTUNATELY FOR OUR BUSINESS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC/FANS, THE COURTS HAVE CONCLUSIVELY COME DOWN ON THE SIDE OF FREE SPEECH IN MOST INSTANCES. ADDITIONALLY, WHEN AN INDUSTRY REALLY STARTS GROWING LARGER, LIKE FANTASY IS NOW, YOU CAN SOMETIMES SEE MONOPOLY-LIKE BEHAVIOR IN CERTAIN AREAS – I THINK YOU ARE GOING TO START SEEING MUCH CLOSER SCRUTINY OF THE MARKET POWER AND MONOPOLISTIC BEHAVIOR OF SOME OF THE ENTITIES IN THE SPORTS SPACE.
Darren Heitner: You seem to be willing to travel often to speak to those interested in breaking into the sports business. What are some of the reasons why you devote your time to informing others?
Kelly Perdew: I BELIEVE STRONGLY IN GIVING BACK. IT IS ONE OF THE CRITICAL LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES THAT I WROTE ABOUT IN MY BOOK, “TAKE COMMAND: 10 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPELS I LEARNED IN THE MILITARY AND PUT TO WORK FOR DONALD TRUMP.” ADDITIONALLY, MOST OF THE EVENTS ARE EXCELLENT FOR NETWORKING FOR PARTNERS, CLIENTS, INVESTORS AND POTENTIAL EMPLOYEES.
Darren Heitner: Should sports agents play fantasy sports? Why/why not? If they play, should they feel bad if they pass over selecting their client for another agent’s client?
Kelly Perdew: EVERYONE SHOULD PLAY FANTASY SPORTS. IT IS FUN AND IT MAKES YOU BECOME A BETTER, MORE PASSIONATE, MORE EDUCATED FAN OF THE ATHLETES, TEAMS AND SPORTS. PICK THE PLAYER YOU THINK WILL GET YOU THE MOST POINTS!
Darren Heitner: Your company just secured an additional $2 million in funding. How were you able to secure this funding in an economic climate that is mighty bleak?
Kelly Perdew: IT IS A VERY DIFFICULT CLIMATE IN WHICH TO RAISE CAPITAL. FORTUNATELY, WE HAVE STRONG AND EXPERIENCED INVESTORS IN ROTOHOG WHO BELIEVE IN THE TEAM, THE VISION AND THE SPACE. ADDITIONALLY THE TIMING OF THE FINANICNG POSITIVELY IMPACTS US AS NOW OUR CLIENTS (TURNER DIGITAL, FOX ESPANOL, AVP, ETC…) FEEL MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE THAT WE’LL “BE AROUND” FOR A LONG TIME WHEREAS SOME OF OUR COMPETITORS MAY NOT.
Darren Heitner: People are obsessed with athletes, which is a major reason why fantasy sports games have thrived. Will we ever see a game that includes sports agents?
Kelly Perdew: I DOUBT IT. THE GENERAL PUBLIC PROBABLY ISN’T THAT INTERESTED IN WHETHER AN AGENT WAS ABLE TO NEGOTIATE A BIGGER SIGNING BONUS FOR THEIR CLIENT ATHLETE. JERRY MCGUIRE MAY BE THE PINNACLE OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC’S AWARENESS OF WHAT A SPORTS AGENT DOES. COMPARED TO THE TELEVISED WEEK IN, WEEK OUT PERFORMANCEs ON THE FIELD BY THE ATHLETEs…A SPORT AGENT JUST DOESN’T REGISTER FOR A FAN. THEREFORE, IT IS HARD TO BUILD A COMPELLING GAME.
Darren Heitner: What would you tell an 18-24 year old who wants to break into the business of sports?
Kelly Perdew: REALLY IT IS NO DIFFERENT THAN OTHER INDUSTRIES – YOU HAVE TO BE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE DOING. RESEARCH, NETWORK, PLAN, AND WORK AS HARD AS YOU CAN. YES, LUCK PLAYS A BIG PART OF THE EQUATION, BUT, LIKE THOMAS JEFFERSON SAID, LUCK IS WHERE OPPORTUNITY MEETS PREPARATION. THE BETTER PREPARED YOU ARE, THE MORE LIKELY YOU’LL BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES.