Week 07, 2023

Here's what we saw, heard, and read in the betting industry's early-stage ecosystem last week

Welcome to the first WEEKLY issue of The Betting Startups Newsletter.

Some housekeeping items to start: 1. We'll experiment with the format over time, but as of right now, here's what you can expect every week:

📰 Headline News: the top stories from early-stage companies in the space

📚 Recommended Reads that we think are interesting

🔍 Featured Founder deep dive

2. You can rate each issue at the end. We'd love to know what you think, good or bad. It only takes 10 seconds. We appreciate it.

3. If you're part of an early-stage company in the space, add us to your PR contact list & send us your headlines for inclusion in the newsletter

Okay, now onto biz....

📰 Headline News

What we saw last week from early-stage companies in the space:

  • Dabble, the fast-growing Australian operator that launched in 2020, acquired Moneyball Australia to help expand its community-focused betting experience (via Gambling News)

  • US Integrity and Odds On Compliance have linked up to launch a new joint venture called Secure Sports Solutions (via iGB North America)

  • The ICE conference was held in London, which included the Pitch ICE competition where 12 startups presented to the live audience. We asked pitch moderator Benjie Cherniak for his assessment on this year's competition:

Pitch ICE was a terrific opportunity for me as a moderator to learn about some dynamic emerging startups in our space. Most of the companies that I invest in or advise are from the sports betting realm and are typically US centric, so it was enlightening to broaden my horizons via interaction with companies from various gaming verticals who in most cases are targeting markets aside from the US. It reminds me just how vast the opportunities are for the next wave of entrepreneurs in our space and I won’t be surprised to see some of the contestants who presented hosting their own stands at ICE in the years ahead as many of these young companies are destined for great success.

Benjie Cherniak, Avenue H Capital

📚 Recommended Reads

  • Gaming Today does an amusing profile of an AI developer who used ChatGPT to build a betting bot that he calls WagerGPT (link)

  • SportsPro Media published an insightful investor roundtable, with a number of sports tech experts discussing the trends, startups, and innovations to watch in 2023 (link)

  • Gambling News shared new research carried out by Wager Wire that suggests bettors would prefer betting with sportsbooks that offered secondary markets (link)

🏈 Bonus Section: Superbowl Roundup

We checked in with some of the newest regulated operators in New Jersey to see how their inaugural Superbowl went:

Prophet Exchange saw the Super Bowl be not only the most bet event in company history, but of any exchange sporting event ever in the United States. Prophet took over $1,000,000 in matched wagers from its patrons, with about 60% coming on the moneyline, spread and total, and the other 40% coming on its newly added prop bets, including almost $100k on the coin-toss alone at +100 odds. Prophet plans to build on this momentum with more prop markets and an increase in liquidity coming to the platform in time for March Madness.

Jake Benzaquen, co-founder Prophet Exchange

Mojo used the Super Bowl to successfully launch a brand new single-game bet - the Liquid Prop. We’re reimagining live betting, allowing customers to monitor share prices play-by-play and bet as if day trading on the stock market. Every stat delivers a payout - Jalen Hurts’ three rushing TD’s delivered an incredible +395% return. We were blown away by the initial response, experiencing a record day with customers spending 5X more time on Mojo than any day in our history.

Bart Stein, COO and Founder, Mojo

And over on Twitter, Sportrade founder and CEO Alex Kane shared a cool visualization of how the money flowed on the platform during the game itself! (see tweet)

🔍 Featured Founder

This week's featured founder is Matthew Berry.

Okay, so he probably doesn't need our introduction: Matthew Berry is a household name known for his 15-year career as the face of fantasy football for ESPN, his NYT best-selling book Fantasy Life, his cameo in the movie Avengers: Endgame, his Twitter account of 1.1m followers, and a myriad of other roles and titles.

But perhaps lesser-known is his work as an entrepreneur, company builder, investor, and advisor to several early-stage companies in the betting and fantasy space.

His entrepreneurial journey into ESPNIn 1999, Matthew was a professional writer for TV and movies when he stumbled upon a website called RotoWorld that was looking for fantasy writers. After writing for them for 4+ years, Berry decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and started his own blog, Talented Mr. Roto. To promote his new website, Berry offered to do free work for any radio station, website, or TV station that would link back to it. This eventually caught the attention of ESPN, who wanted to acquire his website and move him to Connecticut for a two-year deal - which turned into a 15-year career. During his time at ESPN, he became the face of fantasy football and was instrumental in helping to grow the industry with his platform and reach.

Fantasy Life appIn more recent years, Matthew created an app-based social network for fantasy players called Fantasy Life, which offers content, advice, and tools for the user community. Last year, Fantasy Life partnered with Betsperts, a social network for sports bettors. As a result of the partnership, Berry has an equity stake in Betsperts and sits on the board of directors. Recently, Betsperts raised a $5 million in Series A round, and is looking to become fully profitable by next year.

His advice for startupsMatthew recommends exploring creative partnerships and deals for early-stage companies struggling with reach and monetization. He suggests considering what a founder's strengths and skillsets are, and based on that, finding a partner that can provide what is lacking. In his case, he had the reach and brand name but lacked the ability to monetize and raise money, making BetSperts the perfect partner for him.

On criticismBeing such a public figure, Matthew is no stranger to his fair share of criticism. He says that the most important thing when faced with criticism is to have a strong sense of self-worth. Consider the criticism, and have the humility to ask yourself if there is any truth to it - even if it is mean-spirited.

Hear Matthew tell his full story on Ep. 59 of The Betting Startups Podcast.

That's it for now. Thanks for joining us and we'll see ya again next week!

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