Startup Story: The Ups & Downs of Starting Up an Online Fantasy Football Platform

We share the Startup Story of FantasyGo, a first-of-its-kind South African online gaming startup.
Startup Story: The Ups & Downs of Starting Up an Online Fantasy Football Platform

The South African startup scene is both exciting and tough. Having spoken with the founders of FantasyGo, a new fantasy sports startup— the first of its kind in South Africa — we discussed some of their biggest obstacles to date and some advice that they’d like to share with fellow startup founders.

“Building a startup from ideation to execution is one of the most challenging tasks… Anyone can have great ideas — but the proof is in the execution! Being able to wear multiple hats at different stages of the startup is crucial for success.” — Roland Kesler, Head of Product

FantasyGo launched officially in mid-August this year. “We’re delighted to finally launch after more than a year of working on the product during the lockdown,” said Michael Aylward, Head of Growth. “We’re a sport-obsessed country, and there’s a particular love for the Premier League, so the market was crying out for a product like this. The potential for growth is really exciting.”

Although the game is only available to play in South Africa for now, the four Cape Town-based founders of FantasyGo have their sights set on expanding throughout the African continent.

“Our focus in this first year is very much centered in South Africa and the Premier League. But in the not-too-distant future we’ll be looking to expand throughout Africa, and also add different football leagues and even different sports to our platform,” said Luke Ente, Head of Operations.

43% of all South African tech startups agree that access to funds is their biggest challenge. Bootstrapping (self-funding) is still the most popular way to raise initial funds (56%), followed by investments from friends and family (11%). Government only funds about 1% of startups.

“Nothing is easy, from trying to source skilled co-founders that bring something to the table, to looking for investment — it’s all an uphill battle. You’ve just got to keep moving, innovating, and listening to your customer. This is what makes the entrepreneurship journey that much more exciting and rewarding!” said Michael Aylward, Head of Growth.

Matthew Troost, their Development Lead, explains how their team members were working full-time while developing FantasyGo remotely during the lockdown. He recommends the remote work model to any startup founders who are starting out.

“While working two jobs, we have also faced the ups and downs of being a fully remote startup team. There are of course the pros and cons to this model, so we try to set time to meet in person at least once or twice a month.”

To date, some of their biggest obstacles have been that all of the co-founders of FantasyGo are full-time employees at some of the most prominent local and overseas startups. This meant that each team member has been working two very important jobs — leading to some pretty full days and nights!

“We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Much like the hugely successful daily fantasy sports models used by the likes of DraftKings in the USA and Dream11 in India, FantasyGo allows players to compete in weekly leagues for redeemable FantasyGo Tokens (FGT).

These types of games have previously been unavailable to the South African consumer.

One of FantasyGo’s key differentiators is the ability to cash out winnings in cryptocurrency. “For now, users will have the option of converting the FantasyGo Tokens that they win into Bitcoin and Ripple, but we’re actively looking at expanding the list of cryptocurrencies,” Development Lead Matthew Troost said.

Players can enter weekend-long fantasy Premier League tournaments by purchasing FGT.

The winners of each game week split the prize pool in FGT, which they can then cash out in ZAR or cryptocurrency.

FantasyGo is a game of skill, rather than gambling. “It’s not like the house always wins. The FantasyGo model means that every single weekend our players will be winning,” said Roland Kesler, Head of Product.

If you’re keen to check out the platform for yourself, players can sign up at Using their unique referral code, players can get R25 worth of FantasyGo Tokens each time they refer a friend.

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