Speaker Spotlight: Lesley Eccles

Lesley Eccles is the EVP Marketing and co-founder of FanDuel, the global leader in daily fantasy sports. In this role she overseas the multi-million dollar marketing budget ensuring it is spent both strategically and efficiently.  As a co-founder, Lesley has been pivotal in FanDuel’s growth from a tiny start-up founded in Edinburgh in 2009 to a New York headquartered transatlantic sports entertainment business that in 2014 had over 1.1million paying users and revenue of $57million.

Lesley grew up in Forfar, Scotland and has a degree in Modern Languages from the University of St Andrews, it was while there that she met her husband and joint co-founder Nigel. Lesley now has three children and is based in Edinburgh splitting her time between the Scottish and US offices – visiting the US monthly. We asked Lesley about FanDuel's rapid growth and their tactic's when scaling their team... 

How do you retain company culture while scaling a team?  

In a word — communication. At FanDuel, we encourage an autonomous culture where our staff can share their opinions and ideas and help shape the company’s future. We hold entire company meetings with all of our UK and US offices, covering updates across various departments and introducing recruits to the rest of the team. Social engagement is hugely important to us, within and across offices, whether it’s internal feedback being sought for new products and designs, or a simple “hello and welcome” to a new member of the team.

How do you keep the company from becoming "political" as business functions expand?

Again, this links to communication. By ensuring that the different areas of the company engage with one another, everyone can work towards the same goal.

How do you help people to scale? i.e. from being a manager of a few people to managing many?

FanDuel is very focused on providing training and support to its staff, particularly during a period when the company is growing quickly. We have a programme for leaders and aspiring leaders that encourages peer-to-peer coaching, allowing people to take charge of their own personal and professional development.

How do you structure Product Management to keep building the best possible business?

I don’t think there’s one correct solution to this – it depends on what’s best for the domain, the team and the end goals. Having said that, there are some basic principles to adhere to. Identify what all facets of the product should be, including platform and internal tools, and then break these down into ownable pillars with short and/or medium term metrics goals that link to overall business goals. These pillars are each assigned to product owners, empowering them with accountability, responsibility and the means with which to achieve the end goals.   

What are the toughest lessons that you have learned?

To never give up and to always rely on gut instinct. At the beginning, we were turned down by 98 early stage investors before we finally succeeded with Piton Capital, who put $4 million into the company. 

How do you retain staff?

Primarily, by valuing their contribution and supporting them to be the best they can be. At FanDuel we encourage all employees to have a voice, giving them an opportunity to shape and be a part of a rapidly growing business that is at the cutting edge of the sports entertainment industry.

We value the contribution of each employee whilst simultaneously recognising the need for a flexible approach to working – and for this reason, the focus is on productivity, not the number of hours spent behind a desk. We arrange regular social events, trips across to NYC to meet US colleagues and see the consumer side of the business in action - and we even have our own in-house fantasy sports contest, which has been known to cause some fierce rivalry in the office!