Week 18, 2023
Here's what we saw, heard, and read in the betting industry's early-stage ecosystem last week
Editor’s note: they say that you haven’t made it as a newsletter until you’ve issued your first correction. In that spirit, we’d like note that the winner of the recent Ifrah Pitch competition was actually ALT Sports Data, and not CashComment as incorrectly stated last week.
Super sorry to CashComment. Congrats to the ALT Sports Data team. More coffee is clearly needed here in the newsroom. Mea culpa.
Anyways, onto last week’s biz: ⤵️
📰 Headline news
SBC Summit North America announced the 5 industry startups chosen as finalists of the First Pitch competition, who will pitch to a live judging panel for a $50k grand prize. Jesse will be moderating the competition in New Jersey on May 10. See you there soon! (Link)
Yahoo acquired social sports betting app Wagr. (Link)
Tally Technology teamed up with Green Bay Packers for NFL Draft Predictor game. (Link)
ALT Sports Data won the 2023 Ifrah Pitch Competition and bagged a $5k prize for their effort. (Link)
Sparket partnered up with SCCG Management to “supercharge business development efforts”. (Link)
📚 Recommended reads
A solid lay-of-the-land from Mike Seely over at SportsHandle, who explores “how sports betting companies are navigating early adulthood. (Link)
WaterhouseVC published its April newsletter, which includes some topical commentary on AI in sports betting. (Link)
Slightly adjacent: Tim Heath, founder of the Yolo Group & GP at Yolo Investments, penned a piece on Bitcoin as “the antidote” to the fiat financial system. (Link)
Are you reading (or writing) something that you think belongs here? Hit reply and send it to us for inclusion
🗓️ Industry event calendar
Upcoming events that have a focus on industry startups:
Next week is GeoComply’s Challenger Series Summit in partnership with Citi on May 8 in NYC. Learn from the industry’s top gaming experts as they help you navigate through business challenges, including the complex regulatory environment. It’s not too late to register! Watch the trailer and learn more here.
SBC Summit North America returns to NJ May 9-11 (also next week!). We’ll be there to moderate the First Pitch competition, which will see one startup take home a $50k prize package. Use promo code BSP23 for $200 off your ticket. Event details & agenda.
The team at iGaming NEXT has now released the official agenda details for the much-anticipated annual flagship event, iGaming NEXT Valetta. Join over 4,000 industry leaders June 21-22 for this can’t miss event in sunny Malta! Event details & agenda.
🤝 Deal corner
Can you help us connect to qualified leads for these opportunities?
Early-stage operator raising new funding to help facilitate expansion into selected US markets. Available for meetings at SBC to discuss further with qualified investors.
Seed investment opportunity in an early-stage industry startup with product + existing relationships with leagues and sportsbooks. Less than $300k left unsubscribed!
Betting-focused B2C mobile app raising 500k. Live product with 5-figure downloads, revenue, and solid team.
Looking for investment, or have a relevant deal to share? Reply w/ deets and we’ll get you in.
💼 Good gigs
New jobs from leading early-stage companies in the space:
Want to see more open roles? Check out BettingRoles.com, the largest job board dedicated to the betting, iGaming, and fantasy sports industry.
🔍 Featured founder
She has spent her 20-year career in the casino industry, working her way up to the highest levels developing new products for leading operators. Now for her next act, she is looking to disrupt the industry with her big idea. This week’s Featured Founder is Karolina Pelc, founder & CEO of BeyondPlay.
On establishing credibility & leveraging reputation
When Karolina first thought about starting a company and taking the leap into entrepreneurship, she wasn’t sure how her idea would be received. But her years of work in the industry earned her a strong reputation as an innovative thinker that could bring her ideas to life, which made it easy for advisors - and investors - to buy into her vision, and ultimately make a bet on her as a founder.
Innovating in iCasino
Karolina’s career in the casino industry means she has seen it all from a product perspective. But it was during the pandemic when she was playing video games that she had her “aha” moment: the casino slot experience has always been a solitary one, and she realized that introducing a multiplayer experience could give slots the same social dynamic that video games offer. And thus the idea for BeyondPlay was hatched.
Her advice after raising $5m+
Despite the platform being pre-launch, and despite the doomer macro backdrop, Karolina recently raised over $5m in new investment from some of the industry’s leading investors. Her advice to other founders on the fundraising journey? Target investors that already understand the betting & igaming industry, be adaptive in your conversations with them, and be prepared to make compromises - especially on valuation.
The three bastards
Karolina is very open about her challenges with what she calls “the three bastards” that often show up somewhere along entrepreneurial journey: imposter syndrome, fear of rejection, and lack of work-life balance. She admits that she still faces them (despite all the achievements and milestones for BeyondPlay), but is quick to remind herself “don’t let the bastards grind you down” - words that she got tattooed as a permanent reminder!
Karolina talks about BeyondPlay on The Betting Startups Podcast ☝️
That’s a wrap! Safe travels to those making the pilgrimage to NJ next week. See ya there ✌️