Humans of Prodigal bonus edition: Fantasy Premier League

Without a doubt, the best part of working at Prodigal is the people. Prodigies are committed to changing the world through consumer finance intelligence, but we’re also aerial silk artists, equestrians, Vipassana meditation practitioners, artisans….

Oh, and we’re sports fans.

Prodigal Product Analyst Ninad Deshpande is a huge football fan (that’s soccer for you non-Ted-Lasso-watching Americans). 

He’s also a fantasy football fan, and says he has friends he keeps in touch with just because of their mutual interest in creating and trading teams. Which gave him an idea.

Prodigal is spread across three continents and multiple time zones, with everyone working remotely at least some of the time. Like most distributed teams, we do a pretty good job of staying connected through Slack and video meetings when we can’t see each other in person, but building culture is tricky.

What if, Ninad wondered, we created a Prodigal fantasy Premier League? It would be a way to encourage connection, conversation, and community. “It would be like a water cooler, the kind of conversation in which people blow off steam and really talk to each other,” he said.

He got buy-in from our CEO, Shantanu Gangal, including funding for monthly prizes as well as season winners, and decided to go for it. Would it work? Would people participate?

The answer was a resounding yes - more than half of the company participated in the first season (the rest of us were apparently napping during the announcement, but we want in next year!).

Lead Engineer Mayank Argawal is a big Chelsea FC fan, and this was…not a great season for them. In his fantasy roster, he had to make some shifts. 

“I made a painful strategy change, betting against my own team,” he said. But that turned out to be a smart decision - Mayank was the monthly winner three times!

But not everyone who participated was already a football fan. UI Developer Saumya Verma said she likes football, but she’s not a die-hard fan (she auto-picked her team).

That’s okay, said Ninad. To him, seeing people who don't know anything about football taking interest was the best part. The season overlapped with the FIFA World Cup, which meant everyone was already excited about the sport.

“We had a lot of folks from the office going to watch matches and we had drinks and pizza and watched it together. After that, people wanted to participate even more because they had a better idea as to which are the good players.”

And just like with Ninad’s friends, the fantasy league kept us connected in and out of the office. 

“We had a few folks who were interning with us but their internships ended midway through the season. But we treat interns as if they are our own, so we kept them in the league and one of them won second place for the season,” Ninad said.

"The banter across teams and people was the most enjoyable part," season winner Akshat Vaidya said. Mission accomplished, Ninad!

Ninad’s idea is a perfect example of what it means to work at Prodigal - we take action and we’re curiously optimistic. We’re driven, but we’re fun. And this was a great opportunity to get to know each other in new ways (and to trash talk a little bit on Slack).

His advice for someone who wants to put together a league like this at their company?

“You are the one who's ensuring people are engaged. You can ask to create a team for them if they do not know the ABCs of fantasy football. And then posting tips for any normal person who's not already an expert in football to understand just to get them to know the basics and make it fun for everyone.”

Want to be part of the next season of the Prodigal Fantasy Premier League? We’re hiring! No previous knowledge of football required.