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- Zero Labs launches Vegas-based accelerator for industry startups
Zero Labs launches Vegas-based accelerator for industry startups
Founded by industry entrepreneur and investor Quinton Singleton, Zero Labs is helping new ideas find product-market fit
Start me up
Since Y Combinator’s launch in 2005, startup accelerators have grown in popularity as interest in tech startups and entrepreneurship has proliferated.
Today, there are over 200 startup accelerators in the US alone, with countless more globally (per Silicon Valley Bank).
And while the accelerator model has proven to be a successful way to incubate new innovations and businesses - many of which have grown to become household names - startups within the real-money gaming space have largely been left on the outside looking in.
To wit: Jacob Fortinsky, co-founder of betting exchange Novig, told The Betting Startups Podcast, “I believe we were the first and only … sports betting operator to have gone through Y Combinator.”
So yes, there are a handful of examples. But it’s still just a handful.
The reality is that despite the market size and growth trajectory for real-money gaming in the US, the sector’s early-stage companies remain underrepresented in the wider accelerator ecosystem.
And it’s this underrepresentation that Quinton Singleton sees as the opportunity for Zero Labs.
An accelerator is born
Drawing on a successful career launching new products and technology into markets around the world, Singleton knew that the repeal of PASPA would create serious market opportunities - which is when he made his move to become a founder himself.
“When PASPA fell down, I thought, well, this is the time to launch my own first company. It was called Bet Works, which then became Bally’s Interactive.”
Meanwhile, he has spent much of his time investing in and actively supporting several promising early-stage companies within the industry.
“The groups that I've been working with to launch new and innovative products, and create new product categories like micro markets - it's been a wild ride of last four or five years.”
And as a Las Vegas native, Singleton knew that the city was fertile ground for incubating new ideas within the real-money gaming industry.
“Vegas is a great hub for many reasons. One, it’s amongst the highest visited cities in the world, so no one needs an excuse or reason to come to Las Vegas.
Two, it's a great testing ground for new products and technology with access directly to the casinos, the sports venues, entertainment venues, and of course the large hotel casino operators.
Third, with our industry relationships, it’s a great way to take a product or idea and quickly vet it in real-time with the potential users of these products, and then drive it into the marketplace.”
Which brings us to Zero Labs.
Quinton Singleton, founder of Zero Labs
PMF or bust
Singleton’s vision is for Zero Labs is “to be a new center for innovation and development around gaming, hospitality, entertainment, and sports - all these things we call the Vegas industries.”
Zero Labs is launching in partnership with UNLV, and will be based at the university’s 150-acre research park.
His overarching goal is to help entrepreneurs shorten their time to market and, ultimately, product-market fit.
“Currently we see that it's sometimes a 12-24 month process for an early stage company to get all the pieces in place to get product market fit. And we're hoping that as part of the Zero Labs accelerator, with all the support around it, we'll be able to identify the best ideas and and help launch them into the marketplace on a faster speed and scale.”
With a strong network of industry stakeholders, operators, and venture capitalists, Singleton believes he has the ingredients to help industry startups “find that product market fit as quickly as possible, and reduce the time to get to revenue, profitability, and investment cycles.”
While accelerators offer tried-and-tested playbooks for launching startups, there isn’t necessarily a playbook for launching an accelerator itself.
It’s for this reason that Zero Labs will start small, and go to market with a 3-day launchpad program.
“The first accelerator is set for January 26-28. We're going to do a 3-day intensive program for ideas and early stage companies. The goal is to take the ideas and build them up over 3 days so they come out ready to pitch angel investors and VCs.”
Longer term, Zero Labs will more closely resemble a format closer to traditional accelerators like Y Combinator and TechStars.
“At scale, we’ll also do longer 60-day and 90-day accelerators to provide the experience, guidance, and mentorship to help these companies advance into the marketplace.”
Applications are now open for the 3-day launchpad in January, and Singleton is inviting everyone to apply.
“We’re looking for ideas and early stage companies around gaming, hospitality, entertainment, and sports. As long as your idea is connected to at least one of those, and you’re prepared to spend 3 days in Vegas in January, we want to hear from you.”
Go here for more information and to apply for the Zero Labs launchpad in January.