Fantasy Island

fantasyislandAs a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill, Justin MacMahan has already co-founded a company with his roommate Christian Abbonizio and is currently operating as the CEO. The company is called Daily Fantasy Insider (DFI), and their website offers free advice for people building teams on FanDuel and DraftKings.

FanDuel and DraftKings are the industry leaders in daily fantasy sports (DFS), where fans can bet on the performances of individual players in their next game. DFS has drastically increased the interest level of fans across every sport. The concept of cheering for specific players keeps the game exciting even if it is a blowout between two teams that the viewer has no interest in.

The concept of DFS is simple, and teams can be built in a matter of minutes. The user chooses a league within the sport they want to play and proceeds to buy players while staying under the preset salary cap. The prices of every player are the same for all users, as is the salary. Identically constructed teams are a possibility, but a rarity, as the player pools usually make up every player with a game that day. The DFS sites take anywhere from 5% to 15% depending on the size of the buy-in. Generally, the smaller the buy-in, the larger the rake is as the sites want to incentivize the big money players to play more on their site.

In 2015, Justin MacMahan read a magazine article on an airplane about a guy who played DFS for a living. As an avid fan of sports and analytics, he decided that he should be able to pull off a similar feat. Within a year, he had secured profits over $130,000 after initially depositing just $25 on each site. He continues to excel in every sport offered on FanDuel and DraftKings with the help of his team at Daily Fantasy Insider.

DFI is composed of over 30 writers and researchers who make picks using MacMahan’s research tactics. As a team, they continue to develop and refine their strategies while churning out dozens of free articles every week with their top picks for each sport. MacMahan admits that they once considered charging a subscription for the articles, but have decided that user experience is more important. They have no plans to put up a pay wall on the daily content they currently produce.

Many of the guys on the team are aspiring sports writers who are using DFI to gain experience and make connections in the sports journalism sector.  When asked about balancing his role as the CEO of a company and a student at one of the top ranked public schools in the United States, MacMahan answered that he “often chooses to forgo sleep to get everything done.”

With summer break approaching, he expects to have more time to help the daily fantasy sports community develop their strategy and become better players. “No matter how many hours I spend doing stuff for DFI, it never really feels like work because I have so much fun with it. Something that most people do as a hobby has become my primary source of income, and I’m very thankful for all the good fortune I’ve had.”

MacMahan’s success has allowed him to attend over a dozen sporting events in the last year including the NBA Finals, the World Series, and multiple UNC games during March Madness. He came to UNC in part because of the financial aid he was given, but he no longer qualifies for that. He says that although a lot of his winnings now go towards tuition, he is “happy to free up the financial aid for a student who needs it.”

If Daily Fantasy Insider continues to grow like it has since its launch, don’t expect him to need financial aid ever again. Less than three months after launching the site, was getting thousands of page views per day, and their Twitter account receives over 6,000 impressions on most of their tweets. DFS is taking off in the United States, and with the addition of soccer leagues in the UK, it looks to be turning into a massive global industry. If you consider yourself to be a knowledgeable sports fan, it might be time to give it a shot.