Rochester, New York -
A little-known start-up company operates in a sprawling loft-like space on the third floor of Village Gate.
Zach Stanley, 27, co-founded Star Fantasy Leagues two years ago. The firm operates a website where people can play a variety of fantasy league games, including daily and weekly contests. A season-long fantasy league game is a new product rolling out for football season.
"It's a very interesting industry. It's very cool. And we're growing very fast," said Stanley, who is the Chief Executive Officer.
Visitors to the office can't miss the pool table, dart board, basketball hoop, couches and televisions.
"We treat adults like adults here. If you work with us as, long as everybody does their work, we have relative autonomy. Everybody has their own freedom," said Chief Operating Officer Seth Young.
Workers set their own hours. The open layout fosters creativity and discussion. Rochester Institute of Technology has proven to be a great source of software development talent for the company.
Star Fantasy Leagues players can spend and win real money. But don't call it gambling.
"I think the biggest question is, is fantasy sports gambling? Is playing real money for fantasy sports gambling?" said Young. "The answer is no. It's a game of skill."
That's an important distinction under federal and state law.
"Some states look at gaming law different than others. We don't operate in those states and we have effective controls to make sure we're not breaking any laws," said Young.
As fantasy league sports grows in popularity, Young expects more regulation. But he says Star Fantasy Leagues is trying to stay ahead by implementing tight restrictions on who can play. The company is also active in industry groups.
Star Fantasy Leagues has thousands of active users and 11 employees. The firm expects to double in size in the coming months. Star Fantasy Leagues has had interest from big investors and other companies wanting to license its technology.
"I think that we're going to grow significantly. That's the reason our space is so big and we're continuing to add new people," said Stanley. "We're talking with a lot of different companies about what Star Fantasy Leagues can turn into."