Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Northern Ireland entrepreneur returns to share secrets of success

By Claire McNeilly

How do you turn a small start-up company into a billion-dollar global phenomenon in six years?

Northern Ireland man Nigel Eccles knows the answer, because he has done just that.

His online sports project FanDuel has just achieved 'unicorn' status in the US, meaning it is officially worth $1bn-plus.

And Cookstown man Mr Eccles will be back in Northern Ireland tomorrow to share the secrets of his success with entrepreneurs.

The CEO and co-founder of FanDuel is one of the main speakers at the Icons Festival in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

"I'm excited at the prospect of being able to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs from Northern Ireland," said Nigel (40).

"I'll be talking about my own entrepreneurial story, from the first start-up I became involved in to FanDuel's rise to unicorn status. By sharing my experiences, I hope to give attendees some insights into what worked for us and what didn't to help them grow a billion-dollar business."

FanDuel has millions of subscribers in the US and Canada, and is scheduled to pay out $2bn in prize money this year. Players use the site to try and win cash, as they put their skills to the test in a fantasy game market.

The company boasts offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, New York, Orlando and Los Angeles.

Mr Eccles said: "I grew up on a farm, so I guess I was exposed to being part of a small business. One of my older brothers, Alan, was always a lot more entrepreneurial than I was, though. He was always starting small businesses like buying logs and then chopping them up and selling them as firewood. I tended to be the unpaid employee."

Icons starts at the Titanic Exhibition Centre tomorrow and continues until Sunday. It will feature some of the world's leading names and brands from the technology, music and film industries.

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