A tailored, new experience has hit the gambling industry. Pros provide their tips to punters who can match or lay their tips all through one platform. These so called “Bet Requests” are fed straight to punters’ devices as often as they desire, creating a new, social element to sports betting.
Nathan Joyes caught up with Betconnect at this year’s ICE London to find out more about its Co-founders and Betconnect’s recent launch.
Coming from two very different backgrounds, Mark Weaver and Dan Schreiber have set out to change the way punters bet.
Schreiber began his career as a Junior Trader, immediately falling in love with the role and the industry.
He tells Gambling Insider: “I loved it. Pitting your wits against everyone else – it was your prices – it was what I would call old-school betting.”
It was, however, a job away from sports betting where Schreiber found the inspiration for Betconnect. Working for a financial spread betting company, he was able to see a model already proving its worth in the financial sector.
He says: “After working at Sporting Index for six years, I went to work in London for a financial spread betting company and this is when I became aware of Etoro and saw what they were doing in the financial markets. They were allowing regular retail traders to follow and copy the bets of expert financial traders.
“I thought, hang on, are there really that many of these expert financial traders? I haven’t seen that many myself! I thought here that the same thing should and could be replicated in sports betting. There’s the whole concept of letting someone else do all the work for you and we thought this was our opportunity to replicate what the financial guys were doing but with sports betting.”
It was at this point Schreiber’s business partner and fellow Co-founder, Weaver, sat down and spoke with him about the opportunity of launching what would eventually become Betconnect. The duo’s careers were very much chalk and cheese, as Weaver’s background was heavily focused on sales, business management and data and analytics software.
However, the collaboration of knowledge between Schreiber’s sports betting expertise and Weaver’s experience allowed the perfect combination to launch their idea.
Weaver says: “It was so obvious to me it would work and there was never a doubt in my mind it wouldn’t. Etoro is a fantastic business which has proven the concept and that people have the appetite to follow, in this case, the financial trading actions of a professional.
“Here at Betconnect, we’ve taken that core inspiration and adapted it for sports betting. The way we have adapted it, I would argue, has more legitimacy as our professionals need Betconnect in order to place their bets. On the other side of our social betting network, we’ve got punters who are very interested in receiving tips from professionals and we’ve married the two together in a very social and engaging way.”
From where they started, the actual product is almost unrecognisable from where it was in 2014.
Schreiber comments: “The product now is probably 20% of what it was. It has completely changed. It was very basic, there were no social elements to it, and we just needed to raise funds to take it to where we wanted it.”
It was on 1 April 2015 when Betconnect’s journey came to life. With investors and savings gathered, the two Co-founders hired a small team of software engineers to begin the development of its prototype.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the company, though. Until a product was in place, certain investors remained sceptical about pumping money into the business.
“We were told ‘you aren’t going to attract serious institutional money unless you can prove you can actually build and execute on the idea,’” Weaver explains. “It took us a year but we finally managed to create the prototype and we then revisited all the London institutional investors which we had previously spoken to and had been knocked back by.
“A couple couldn’t believe we had done it – we proved it was simple and going to work and it was at that stage some decided to invest. These investments allowed us to go on and make the full platform, which is Betconnect today.”
With the product officially set up, it was time to introduce the pros to the platform.
The pros only pay 3% commission through Betconnect to place their bets, while punters aren’t charged for either following or laying the pros’ selections. This has allowed Betconnect to stand out in an area of sports betting which hasn’t altered for quite some time.
Professional gamblers’ profiles are on display for punters to see their track record and average stake per selection. This honest insight is another factor helping make Betconnect unique and keeping punters and pros connected.
Within the first three weeks of Betconnect’s launch, Gambling Insider was told over 400 pros had signed up and over 3500 punters had created their own personal accounts.
Schreiber says: “Everyone is intrigued by it. The ability to follow a professional is something people want but most of the time people don’t know if they are genuine. Betconnect is real people, real money and real data.”
This is only the beginning for Betconnect, which appears to have plenty of ideas and aspirations in the pipeline as it looks to expand into 2019 and beyond. The company has claimed it is capable of being the next Betfair and, with its venture just starting, Schreiber informed Gambling Insider there will be developments happening within the next few months.
“We’ve got some clever thoughts on how we will be able to build a social aspect where punters can interact which each other,” he says. “The social side is really critical as we believe we have the transactional element correct now, which was our primary focus. Now the focus is on all the social stuff in order to keep on growing Betconnect.”
Weaver adds: “We’ve called it Betconnect for a reason. It’s not just going to be pros and punters interacting; punters will be able to communicate with one another in a shared betting experience.
“2019 is all about continuing to grow the product. We want to create a good user experience and we want to improve gaming’s image as a whole.”
The Co-founders have put everything into Betconnect so far, but it is now that its journey really begins.