Daily Archives: August 22, 2013

Fanduel on TV

What feels like a long time ago I met a fantastic team who had recently finished at Edinburgh University computing science department. They had yet to completely find a plan or product, but I just knew that these guys would do something great! It’s not often that you meet a team that you think that, but along with a few angels I know we invested a small amount of seed money, supported them by offering advice (that they mainly ignored!) and introduced them to a few VC’s.

They were focused on the US market and launched at Demo 2008, a product called Hubdub, a prediction news market. Nigel, the founder had spent quite a long time in markets, and saw the power of these at Betfair and Flutter, where he was a product manager.

The technical team was agile, fast and focused on detail (led by Tom and Chris) and by Rob, who is a great designer. All supported by the lovely Lesley who managed marketing.

How could we fail – well unfortunately although the product was popular with users, it didn’t have the level of traction to show any likelihood of being a home run. They pivoted, which I was sceptical about – but guess what I was wrong (not the first time)

They have now been running Fanduel.com for a few years and it is most definitely the leading daily fantasy game in the US. They recently launched on TV and their new ad is below.

I think there are a few things they could do to clean up the response devices on their website – but I have to say, they ROCK!

Donald Russell

I was lucky enough to get a delivery from Donald Russell today.

I thought I would share some of the experiences of the delivery. I am yet to try the product, but really like the customer experience.

The first thing I saw once I had opened the box is a lovely signed thank you card, this instantly makes me feel good about my purchase and what is inside. I haven’t even eaten anything yet, but I feel great. A nice touch to sign each card!


In the envelope below is a mix of money off coupons (for their brand and a few partners), a guide on how to cook meat to perfection and a catalogue. The great thing about all these items is they feel valuable, so will hang around my house for ages (a key trick of direct marketing).

The partner offer (from Naked Wines) is relevant and of high value I like the idea that it doesn’t look like money but seems to be a ‘credit card’, again this will hang around.


The only area that I am not a big fan of is the website, it is quite cluttered and guess what it has a Carousel on the home page so it doesn’t get the high marks for the customer experience post purchase.

I will follow up once I have actually eaten something – may well push a steak into my Sous Vide Supreme.

Free stuff versus discounting

© Brett Critchley | Dreamstime.com

Since around 2008 consumers have been very wary about value, especially on the web. So how do you trade off discount value versus communicating additional value to the consumer?

Most online brands (especially clothing) have to fight hard to encourage reorder and purchase. You don’t tend to buy on impulse as you need to at least know what you want to buy before entering it into Google!

I still have a strong view that the principles of retail don’t care about channel (online, physical, direct marketing). They all go back to the Marketing Mix (there is some debate about how many P’s there are)!. You need to use your mix to influence these to the optimal position to engage your consumer.

Promotion is something that you will change all the time to influence demand, you need to work out what promotion you are going to use.

I am a big fan of FREE STUFF instead of pure discounting. I have seen again and again that it can outplay a simple discount (relatively speaking), but it needs to be relevant to the product you are purchasing.

Here is a great point to ask the consumer what else they considered in the purchase cycle as complimentary to their success. In shirt retailing it might be a tie or cuff links, in diet it might be scales or portion plates.

These items together with your core product enhance the motivation to purchase much more than discounting alone. If there is nothing that you can find, using discounting as a strategy has been very successful for people like DFS. Everyone knows the product is never sold at full price in any volume, but it does communicate that value is at the heart of the consumer proposition for everyone who walks through the door!

Sous vide

I am a proud owner of a Sous Vide Supreme, a lovely little water bath for domestic use.

For those of you that don’t know what Sous Vide is – it is a slow water cooking system popularised by Novell Cuisine in the 1980’s. Most viewers of Masterchef the professionals, will have seen commercial versions of these in Michelin starred restaurants throughout the country.

Best for a nice steak or pork belly, the domestic version was developed by a low carb doctor who was sick of the conventional methods of cooking and felt that retaining the cooking liquid and cooking at a lower temperature would have lots of benefits.

Firstly, you vacuum pack your ingredients into a bag, and set the temperature for cooking and just pop the meat into the water. As the water is at a set temperature the food can’t really overcook as the temperature is controlled within +/- 1C. Ideal for steaks when you have lots of people coming round, just stick the steaks on and enjoy a few drinks with your friends, once ready to serve all you need to do is flash finish the steaks and serve.

I would highly recommend these to the home cook who has everything!