Blog: RunLastMan beats Paddy Power at its own game

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Graham Carrick, chief executive and founder at RunLastMan, one of the Pitch ICE contestants from this year, explains how his company went head to head with a giant of sports-betting – and won. In this instance, it was the start-up that was indeed, the last man standing. He explains how it happened.

It's not every day you beat a €9bn company which had a head start. Paddy Power recently announced on Twitter, that it was not running its Last Man Standing game format online this year, despite completely overhauling the design last year, purportedly spending in excess of €1m on the development for it with the separate Last Man Standing app. We could have told them then it wouldn’t work, because as my Granny always said, ‘there's no point putting lipstick on a pig.’

When we set up RunLastMan.com, Paddy Power were the dominant player in the Last Man Standing space. Any search you did on Google for ‘Last Man Standing’ returned the Paddy Power Last Man Standing platform in positions one, two and three. Despite that, we were convinced that they were doing a terrible job, for three reasons.

• Free to enter – PaddyPower ran the game as a free-to-enter competition in order to engage existing players. Having no pay to play option was clearly stupid. Why would I tell my friends to enter a competition with a large cash prize that I wanted to win, if there was no benefit to them joining. If I advertise it with my friends, I immediately reduce my chance of winning. Despite that, Paddy Power's Last Man Standing competition would sometimes get in excess of up to 10k players a week, as they advertised it directly to their existing players.

• Anonymous entries – Since there were up to 10,000 entrants, no-one knew who they were playing against. Getting through an extra week didn’t really matter since you had no immediate group to discuss it with.

• No social sharing – WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter sharing were largely non-existent for the reasons mentioned before. Why would you share something that there is no incentive to share?

We went about our business rectifying all of Paddy Power's shortcomings.

• Pay to play– By making RunLastMan.com a pay-to-play format from the start, we immediately made the game worth playing amongst a group of five to 500 friends. There was immediately a cash prize worth paying your entry fee for, amongst any group, no matter how big or small. This meant players wanted to share the competition page because the more people that entered the more money they could win.

• Named players – You can see the names of each player that joins before the competition kicks off. You can also see their picks and their picture as each round goes live. This is incredibly engaging for groups e.g. everyone can see Tom (the Man Utd fan) picked Liverpool in round three which is good fun for everyone, even Tom, assuming Liverpool win.

• Social Sharing – Our primary channels of sharing are Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. The difference being that people use them for the reasons listed above.

With these problems solved and a €15,000 marketing budget, we have grown to have over 50,000 entrants into our Last Man Standing competitions with over 10,000 entrants for Euro 2016 alone. With entry fees included, this led to €550,000 in transactions.

From every metric we have, we could see we were beating Paddy Power everywhere, engagement on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp was through the roof for us and non-existent for them. Google was rewarding us by ranking us first for all searches. We became the location of choice for Last Man Standings, and were all set to beat Paddy Power this week in total number of players for the start of the Premiership.

Then we saw the news that they aren’t running Last Man Standings this year online or through the app. Perhaps their merger or size is limiting them and they have to refocus, but the Last Man Standing is clearly a growth space. We expect to get to one million players by the end of 2018 following existing growth rates. That said, it might be higher seeing as our biggest competitor just threw in the towel.

Thanks for the competition Paddy Power, it has been nice beating you.

This blog first appeared on Graham Carrick’s Linked in page (https://ie.linkedin.com/in/grahamcarrick). For more information about RunLastMan visit the website https://www.runlastman.com.