Q&A: Nigel Eccles of FanDuel on what makes a unicorn tick

Tech City News talks to Nigel Eccles, CEO and co-founder of one of FanDuel, which recently achieved unicorn status (valued at more than $1bn).

The Northern Irishman, who has been announced as one of the main speakers for the upcoming ICONS Festival in Belfast, has guided FanDuel from its launch in 2009 and to its current position where it is scheduled to pay out $2bn in prizes this year.

With offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, New York, Orlando and LA, and its recent rise to unicorn status, FanDuel continues to have strong growth ambitions. We ask Eccles what makes FanDuel tick.

Q: What a great year for FanDuel, what are your plans  for the next one?

A: Firstly, our focus is continuing to scale the business. In 2014 our business grew 3x year on year, so we have to invest a lot to keep ahead of that growth. To do that we are continuing to invest in our product to maintain it as the leading daily fantasy sports experience.

Q: How do you continue to achieve growth?

A: More broadly, we are also looking at other ways to deliver on our mission to make sports more exciting. Additionally our growing Edinburgh team will be moving to a new, larger office which is being built next to our current premises, with the capacity for up to 500 staff. Our New York team will also be moving to new offices in the next 6 months.

Q: FanDuel has a strong foothold in the US. Would you recommend that startups target international markets early on?

A: I think there is a growing acceptance in the US that consumer technology can be developed anywhere. One of the most successful social game developers in the US market, King, is based in London. Clash of Clans developer, SuperCell, is based in in Finland. For the NI community it is clearly an opportunity to have international ambitions from day one.”

Q: You are returning to the Emerald Isle to take part in ICONS Festival. Is it important to give something back to those at the beginning of their journey?

A: I am very excited at the prospect of being able to help engage, enthuse and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. I’ll be talking about FanDuel’s growth and my own entrepreneurial story, from the first startup I became involved in, to FanDuel’s rise to unicorn status. By sharing my own experiences, I hope to give attendees some insights into what worked for us and what didn’t – to help them grow a billion-dollar, international business.

Once a powerhouse of industry, Belfast is now home to the ICONS Festival, where entrepreneurs from across the globe will descend on Titanic Quarter from September 24 – 27 to take part in a high level tech conference, partnered with an experiential music and film festival backdrop.

Global leaders in the creative industries will give keynote speeches, roundtable discussions and a special pitch competition in association with the 500 Startups. Other key figures scheduled to speak at the event are director of innovation at Yamaha, Jay Onda, 500 Startups partner, Marvin Liao and PicsArt GMO, Wilson Kriegel.

To see Nigel speaking at the ICONS Festival alongside other world-class speakers, global brands, Ireland’s biggest Careers Carnival and the very best in the startup scene visit festivaloficons.com.