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IN-DEPTH 3 June 2016
PlayVenture CEO, Theodoros Theodosopoulos
Pitch ICE 2016 winners PlayVenture clearly have ambitions to make big waves in i-gaming. CEO Theodoros Theodosopoulos sits down with GI to talk about preparations for going head to head with some of the industry’s biggest names
By Gambling Insider

What is PlayVenture? Explain more about the company to those who haven’t heard of you.
PlayVenture is a company that aims to innovate across different fields of i-gaming, offering solutions both to operators and players. We are trying to find solutions that will satisfy the needs of both sides. We are a growing, creativity-driven team, always coming up with fresh ideas that really have something to offer the gaming industry.

What gap in the market do you think you’ve found?
We’d been looking at a gap in the gaming market for a while, it was from researching that gap that we developed our Live Plus product, in order to give an innovative solution for players wanting to compete against each other in live betting. We launched PlayVenture in order to make the Live Plus concept a reality.

Practically, we saw that it was hard for operators to have profitable business models unless they have very big turnovers. At the same time, players are constantly looking for very big profits from small wagers. Live Plus is the answer to the operators’ issues and the players’ demands. Our product combines the thrill of live betting with the value of pool betting. Players can register for a tournament of their choice, pay the predefined buy-in and have the opportunity to claim big prizes that are based on the created pool. The players’ objective is to predict better than their competitors, trying to finish as high as they can on the leaderboard at the end of an event.

Is it difficult breaking into an industry such as online gaming?
Every industry is difficult for a start-up to enter, if there was an industry that was easy to join I am sure that all start-ups would focus their efforts there. But we chose gaming because of our passion for the industry. I think it’s great to make your passion a job, and that is what makes the gaming industry so attractive; working to entertain people. But in order to enter an industry like this, you need a highly innovative idea and a very good prototype, given the structure of the industry at the moment.

Is it easier to be innovative as a start-up than an established gaming giant? If so, does this give you an advantage?
Established companies always strive for innovation and new content, but it is more difficult for them to focus on finding and creating an innovative solution, because they have to concentrate on so many different things. That makes them more cumbersome compared to start-ups, to whom innovation is their only cause. Nevertheless, it is definitely not easy to stand out from the crowd as a start-up – you need to have a very good product.

Basically, in order to become a successful start-up, you need to spot a gap in the market, which big corporations are not able to cover quickly and effectively. At the same time, you need to be flexible and to constantly evolve, in order to grow and create a stable company in the industry down the road.

Why did you decide to enter Pitch ICE? What does winning a competition like Pitch ICE mean to PlayVenture?
Pitch ICE was a first-class opportunity for us to show Live Plus to the gaming world, and especially to show a value proposition.

We had already held a focus group analysing the game, and approximately 80% of people said they loved the fact that they were playing against each other and not the operator. But we were very much interested in the opinion of the gaming experts as well, so through Pitch ICE we managed to get a very important feedback on Live Plus. We believe that the gaming industry needs more skill and interactive games and we wanted to show that too, with the participation of Live Plus at Pitch ICE. Winning Pitch ICE confirms what we already knew: that Live Plus is a very good and highly innovative product with great potential. Now we feel the obligation to meet the expectations of those who voted for us, and to convince the people that didn’t that we have an amazing product.

What are the next steps for PlayVenture?
We are currently in talks with a few of the top operators in the gaming industry about including the product on their platforms.

And we’ll keep working hard on improving and evaluating Live Plus. Our long-term goal is to create the biggest betting network in the i-gaming industry, so at the same time we are developing more games and innovative solutions for the gaming market.

Are there any companies or people in the industry you aspire to emulate?
There are many companies that innovate and have a lot to offer in our industry, and it is hard for me to choose one or even a few.

Nevertheless, I find Betfair very interesting on a B2C level, as well as Playtech, Intralot and OpenBet on a B2B software provider level. Last, but not least, I could not forget Betradar, a company which saw a gap in the market very early and managed to establish itself as a top data provider. I really think that these companies are a standard and an example in their fields, I admire the way they work and their business structure.

Are you actively looking for new investors?
We have already received pre-seed and seed funding to create Live Plus. But we are open to investors coming onboard from the gaming industry, as we want to benefit from their experience and network, in order to help us grow as a company.

What advice would you give to start-ups trying to break into the industry?
Being a start-up and trying to put yourself on the map is something that’s really difficult, it needs hard work and effort and definitely a passion for what you do. Although we are just making our first steps towards establishing our company, I would advise start-ups to find a gap in the market, create an effective product quickly and prove that they have a good value proposition even faster. They will definitely need to find investors before they go to the proof of money stage. There is another way as well, the way of taking an existing solution and evolving it, making it even better, but this is always risky as this is something that establish companies can do better than start-ups. If you do this, you need to have an excellent marketing strategy, or you need to try to find innovative channels for your product. Start-ups need to manage and solve a problem affecting the market, build a very good product, prove that it is profitable and seek capital from investors in order to take it to the next level. As I said, being a start-up is hard and requires endless effort, patience and persistence. You might work extremely hard in the first few years but, if you do it right, then the result will be your reward.

With a strong background in management and experience in start-ups, Theodoros Theodosopoulos used his knowledge and skills to found PlayVenture. Prior to PlayVenture, Theodoros was general manager of Iboessa Limited and business development manager of THoldings Limited, where he cultivated his business development, project management, financial analysis and entrepreneurship skills
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