Fantasy Sports Co. in Carlsbad might have one of the best “lemons to lemonade” stories to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company, which provides algorithmic tools to help gamers succeed in fantasy sports, was forced to find a new path when COVID-19 precipitously forced most professional sports leagues to shut down.
“I’ll never forget, in an early March investor update, I was detailing perceived risks to the company from COVID-19,” Erik Groset, CEO of Fantasy Sports Co., said. “We anticipated major sports playing without fans, and noted the worst-case scenario would be an abrupt halt. The very next day, our worst fears were recognized as a company when all major sports came to a pause.”
Rather than dwell on the misfortunes the company suddenly faced, Groset and his team found a new path by focusing on major eSports leagues, such as League of Legends and Simulated Sports.
“We identified eSports as a ‘pandemic proof’ opportunity that could allow for both fantasy and legalized sports gambling to continue,” Groset said. “Within a few short weeks, we were able to get the necessary tools, data analytics, in place to support eSports and our business went from tanking to stability. The best part is we’ll be able to continue to support eSports moving forward as they continue to grow.”
Of course, being headquartered in Carlsbad has also helped the company.
“We’ve found a lot of good support from other local entrepreneurs,” said Groset, who noted he started Fantasy Sports in the beachside city for its central location and talent availability.
“There are a lot of great startup groups and meetups in the area. Many have since gone virtual so the ability to attend them comes with even greater accessibility.”
With the support of North County networking groups such as Innovate78, San Diego Tech Hub, San Diego Tech Talks, Groset said they will return to the office in July with social distancing measures in place. They’ll also bring the lessons learned from the past three months back into the office.
“We will continue to innovate frugally without being scared to try new things,” Groset said. “We certainly intend to be more agile and adaptable for whatever comes next.”