The Bulgarian online bookmaker Efbet and the technology company deVRealm are in a process of creating a joint venture that will work globally on new technology platforms. Here is what the managing director and owner of Efbet Boyan Naydenov and the founders of deVRealm Konstantin Dinev and Hristo Penchev have told Profit.bg about the new initiative:
Why do Efbet and deVRealm create a joint venture? What are the long-term goals and benefits of this partnership?
Boyan Naydenov, the Managing Director of Efbet: We are setting up a joint venture with Hristo and Konstantin in order to have a “global face” and be competitive in the extremely dynamic online industry. They wish to develop, and our goal is to raise the Efbet IT level because our industry is growing at the speed of light and companies without a serious technology strategy are ultimately lagging behind.
Hristo and Kosyo have appeared at the very appropriate time to develop together and have a long term perspective.
Why have you, at deVRealm, decided to start a partnership with a company in the online betting sector? Currently, digitalization is a priority for companies in all industries.
Konstantin Dinev, deVRealm: We have been involved with the online casino industry for many years. We have started making the so-called “slot games” and gained sufficient experience and know-how in order to create a larger platform. This is one of the main reasons for the joint venture we create with Efbet. The two companies just complement each other - they have all the capital, brand and everything that is needed for such a platform while we have the necessary technical resources.
Together we can turn this project into a very successful and modern product that will serve as a benchmark for many other companies. One of the advantages is that we work with the latest technologies and are well ahead of most competitors.
Is this really the future of bookmakers - gradually to get transformed into technology companies?
Boyan Naydenov: Our worldview is that we wish to work with the best product on the market for every service we need. This gave us the clues that if we work with the right people, if we look at in one direction, success will surely come. It's just a matter of time, and honestly, we like to pursue high goals.
Hristo Penchev, deVRealm: We have noticed that most of the competitive bookmakers are experiencing some hidden horror from the IT sphere and from technology in general. They are ready to use many old methods and platforms just because they are familiar with them and do not want to encounter the unknown. And that actually costs them a lot more resources and brings them serious losses.
This is one of the main reasons we are also so happy to work with Efbet because they have the desire, understanding and vision in this technology field. This allows us to build something truly innovative and super modern.
Konstantin Dinev: However, my personal opinion is that Efbet does not need to become an IT company. What they do requires a lot of experience and knowledge, and the technology part is rather complementary to their core business. With its help they meet the modern requirements of the market.
Many global players in the gambling industry have opened their own IT offices in Bulgaria in the recent years. How can we attract this type of investment and can we talk about creating an entire ecosystem of such companies? And is this good for the development of the sector after all?
Konstantin Dinev: There really is such a tendency and it has been a fact for many years, with both positive and negative sides. For the most part, of course, it is rather positive. And these are not just names for the online casino industry. In general, over the last 6-7 years, there has been an influx of foreign companies into the Bulgarian market IT sphere, which has greatly helped to develop this sector.
Unfortunately, from an HR point of view, everything is concentrated mainly in Sofia, which in turn leads to the downside that the quality resources and talents are becoming very difficult to discover. There are huge companies with almost unlimited budgets ready to do anything to form a team of 100 people, for example. This sharp increase in competition is the only unpleasant effect, in my opinion. But we are not afraid of competition.
Hristo Penchev: On the other hand, if we are talking specifically about the casino industry and online gambling, the companies there are a little “more affluent” and can afford to train their own staff. This gives the young programmers a chance to develop, to learn, and to succeed.
Konstantin Dinev: This is something we are also trying to proceed with our internship program, where we are looking for people with good potentialities.
Can you find any?
Hristo Penchev: People having the desire - yes. In general, I think there are a lot of talented people in Bulgaria. The trick is to find them and to train them properly.
Konstantin Dinev: Honestly, the universities are a little behind in their curricula.
What is deVRealm? How many people work for the company and what is their profile?
Konstantin Dinev: It all started 12 years ago, at that time we were mainly engaged in web design. A little later, when smartphones came in, we started making mobile applications for various businesses. And at a certain time in 2013, we entered the online casino industry with the so-called “slot games”. We formed a team, started going to exhibitions, meeting different people and developing casino games for foreign clients.
Hristo Penchev: Currently, the company employs just over 60 people.
Are you interested in sports outside of business hours? Does a programmer need to understand sports in order to create a quality product?
Konstantin Dinev: We are interested, definitely. We even have a football team in the office and we get together to play once, twice a week. Otherwise you do not have to understand sports in order to make such software, but it is advisable and desirable. If not you, as a programmer working specifically on this issue, then at least the product manager who leads the team should be fairly familiar with and experienced in the industry's methodologies. This is very useful.
Hristo Penchev: I would like to say that it is obligatory part of the team to understand the industry and to know how things work, but this also includes the Efbet expertise and the people who help us on their part. They do this on a daily basis and know what would work and what would not.
Boyan Naydenov: Historically, we have received many offers from software companies who said they could make the perfect product for us. However, the reality is that the software product is a living organism and can never be in its final form. It is much better to have a partner together with whom to develop your digital strategy in the long run.
The truth is that in order to get a good product, it is imperative that both parties - both the bookmaker and the IT developer - work in one direction and have common interests. Then a good product is invariably obtained. We have tried different options over the years. We have worked with several companies because we are growing steadily and at some stage they are small for the amount of work that accumulates. In the end, we came to the conclusion that a joint venture with deVRealm can only bring positive and successful results.
Efbet already has licenses to expand its operations in Italy, Spain, Romania and Serbia. What are your plans for developing foreign markets and will a joint venture help to achieve them?
Boyan Naydenov: It will certainly help us. One of the characteristic features of the European Union is that each country has specific requirements for online betting. In Romania, the system must meet the requirements of the Romanian regulator, in Bulgaria - the Bulgarian, in Italy - the Italian, etc. The adaptation to the relevant market will happen much faster in such a company, as well as the fulfilment of the requirements. And that, in the end, gives you the opportunity to be competitive.
In online betting, things just have to happen “from today till today.” The market does not have any vacuum and no time to waste.
What are your main advantages to compete with the global players? Do you have “hidden trumpcards”?
Boyan Naydenov: Companies with such a long history can be counted on the fingers. We have been in the online business for 13 years.
Konstantin Dinev: Quite a few companies, even among the largest, do not have their own teams. They use ready-made external platforms. In addition to the large sports betting platform we do, we will also add a casino platform to this joint venture. It will support all kinds of games and we will integrate all the features available to users in it. In addition, it will be available on the market, that is, we will be able to sell it to other bookmakers.
Boyan Naydenov: The idea is to create a platform that integrates and manages all external service providers. In such a way the client will see everything in one place. The goal is to get a product that is truly world-class.
What is more important in today's business, talent or scale?
Konstantin Dinev: The talent and the experience of the programmers are the primary. Because the difference between a person with 15 years and one with 5 years of experience can be huge. The productivity is very different. However, we are starting from somewhere, the speeding up of our team will grow, according to the needs of the company. But a huge team certainly doesn't mean a productive team.
Hristo Penchev: On the contrary, a small, solid, talented team can build a much more solid foundation than a large, scattered and difficult-to-manage team that works erratically in all directions.
Boyan Naydenov: Last but not least - we are Bulgarian, and they are Bulgarian too, so we speak the same language; both literally and figuratively - when we talk about “the language of business”.