On Building A Sports Betting Marketplace

Greg Kajewski
Founder, BettorEdge
3
Founders
3
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BettorEdge
from Minneapolis, MN, USA
started March 2019
3
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3
Employees
1.21M
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1.52K
followers
3.47K
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On Building A Sports Betting Marketplace

My name is Greg Kajewski and I’m a co-founder of BettorEdge. James Seils, Tim Rosener, and I started the company almost 3 years ago after looking at the innovation occurring in fintech and realizing the similarities and need for innovation in the sports gaming space. Many fintech companies have found great ways to provide no-fee platforms while providing a better experience to the consumer. We wanted to create a similar platform for sports gaming.

We have a team in Minneapolis, MN that focuses on Product Development, Business Operations, and Marketing. We have additional consultants in New York and the United Kingdom that provide best-in-class industry expertise to keep us going.

We built a progressive web app that helps streamline the sports gaming experience. At the core, individuals can buy or sell bet positions to other users for upcoming games similar to a stock market. Sitting on top of that, all activity is posted to our social feed so that your followers can transparently track, comment, or engage directly on your activity. In addition to that, we also have competitions where groups of users can compete across multiple upcoming games.

The product serves many needs in the market, but we find our core customer enjoys stock trading, watches sports, and loves talking about sports with friends, all while being price conscious and aware of the fees they’re getting charged on the traditional platforms they use.

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What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I’ve always loved technology and the ability of technology to make people’s lives easier and more efficient. I started my career at PwC after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a background in Accounting and Management Information Systems. At PwC, I met James on day one. We became fast friends and roommates a year later. We spent many nights taking innovative ideas and prototyping them to become business opportunities.

I soon realized that James was a better coder than me and I needed to find other dreams, so I found a start-up called Anaplan. It was a company of 75-100 people providing state-of-the-art technology to large enterprises. It was there that I realized and understood technology innovation can significantly improve a customer’s life by continuing to put the customer first. I was drawn to the tech side and since the company was founded in the UK, I moved to London to get closer to our product team and learn from the amazing minds building the technology. It was there that I truly understood the product development process of prototyping, feedback, and innovation that creates an amazing product. I was a part of Anaplan scaling to thousands of employees and going through an IPO.

Soon after, James brought me another idea about innovation in the fintech world. We looked at Robinhood, Venmo, and Revolut, and realized technology created more efficient processes. However, the sports gaming world hadn’t yet been touched with technological innovation applying these principles. We took our vision to a Sportradar Innovation challenge at the University of Minnesota. After a grueling 12-hour day of white-boarding, prototyping, and getting feedback, we pitched our vision to a panel and the feedback was amazing, we won first place. This opportunity gave us the chance to start BettorEdge knowing we had some great minds backing us in the sports gaming space.

Be hungry, start now, and put yourself in an environment that supports what you want to do in life.

We’ve continued to grow and expand the company to thousands of customers across the U.S. while keeping customer needs as the number one priority.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

Day 1 started with a ton of excitement, energy, and a strong vision for what was ahead. It turned quickly into MANY nights and weekends over 2 years. We leveraged every waking opportunity, every vacation, parental leave, and sabbatical to move the company forward. Those two years were focused on getting our MVP ready for market, as well as putting the correct pieces in place from a legal standpoint. As we planned out each step of the process, our plans were constantly changing as a global pandemic hit the sports world.

We were ready for a March 2020 launch that aligned with March Madness. When sports were halted, we realized we had a minimal following and no sports to build alongside. We decided to use the lockdown to focus on improving the product further. We dove back into ways we could improve the product experience, got more user feedback, and got back to work. Over the course of the pandemic, we doubled down on scalability, security, controls, and user experience to maximize the opportunity to go live.

In January 2021, we launched alongside the #1 sports morning show in the U.S: KFAN’s PowerTrip Morning Show. We saw the excitement and pent-up demand for sports fans wanting to find a new way to trade sports bets. They gave us a great foundation to begin. Since then, we’ve continued to leverage influencers, podcasts, and key brands to build our community. Now at the end of the 2021 NFL season, we’ve seen thousands of fans trade millions of dollars in funds around the games they love. We’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for the consumer and donated tens of thousands of dollars to charities and children’s hospitals for a better cause.

We’re excited about the energy and excitement that sports fans and market enthusiasts have brought to our community and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

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How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

BettorEdge is doing well as we just finished a successful NFL season where we crossed over $15M in orders on our platform. Collectively, that’s saved some significant fees for our consumers compared to alternative platforms. From a business standpoint, we continue to operate efficiently and invest in growing our community of sports fans. Our customer acquisition costs range in the $30-$40 range, significantly lower than other sports gaming platforms at $300-500+ per user. We’re able to accomplish a lower acquisition cost as over 50% of our signups come from referrals. That is something we’re proud of, as it shows we have many happy customers and the network effect is beginning to provide some great benefits. Every month, we typically see ~50k sessions with an average session duration of around 9 minutes. For users that place an order on our platform, we have retention above 90% but do expect some seasonality as we move towards different sports seasons.

Find opportunities that align with your passion and ensure you’re having fun.

As we’re in the first year of marketing, we’re still pre-revenue but will look to expand our product offerings to provide premium features as a package, advertising packages for brands, and many other features that enhance the consumer’s experience. For goals, we’re excited to work with key brands and states to help define the category of the social betting marketplace. We’ll continue to focus on an optimal customer experience as we market heavily into 45 states across the United States.

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What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The BettorEdge platform was built in-house using a micro-services strategy. Each service is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is set up to scale with our business. Our platform is currently accessed through a progressive web app (PWA). A PWA makes our platform available to everyone regardless of their device. This strategy has allowed us to deploy at an incredibly fast pace all while keeping our costs very low as we test out new features with our users. Check out this video by Steve Jobs explaining PWAs.

We have many additional tools that we use to help us monitor our system's performance and application effectiveness. These include but are not limited to:

Slack - Helps our team stay connected and feeds our obsession with replying with GIFs

Trello - Keeps us organized as we plan our development and marketing sprints.

Figma - Connects our design team to development, making the process from design to live in production completely seamless.

GitHub / CircleCI - Our DevOps pipeline gets our code from development to production quickly while managing our risk.

New Relic - A great tool to monitor our services, APIs, message queues, and database performance.

Segment - Brings all our front-end application data together for us to use across our different business channels.

Mixpanel - Gives us insights on how effective new features are and where our users may be struggling.

Stitch - An ETL service that helps us bring all our micro-service-specific data together into our data warehouse for additional analytics and analysis.

External tools are a great way to offload valuable tasks that tend to be repetitive and time-consuming to us. We constantly review our usage of these tools to ensure benefits are outweighing costs.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I often am amazed at the number of resources that are available to us today as a startup that helps us grow and scale. I’ve been extremely fortunate to rely on a strong network of key entrepreneurs and smart minds to be vital resources in helping us grow/scale and be a voice of reason through everything. Beyond that, I’ve found constant research and learnings about innovative marketplaces that have done it before us. As a sports marketplace, I’ve always been inspired by the similarities of our business and Uber, Venmo, Airbnb, eBay, Etsy, DoorDash, Craigslist, and similar marketplaces as we continue to innovate with new ideas in different industries. Having the opportunity to read 10Ks from companies like Paypal and Robinhood has provided extremely beneficial resources to help us move forward.

For specific books and authors that have left a lasting impression on my entrepreneurial journey, I always have to call out Malcolm Gladwell as his analytical approach to problem-solving is ever intriguing. The Tipping Point has left a huge impact on my career to always do the right thing for people, including customers, to constantly let small things build into a big impact.

Additionally, How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg has been an amazing book to think about all the opportunities and ways that a company can be successful. He has an amazing approach to laying out many companies before him and the approaches those companies used for success. With enough variability, it provides a great encyclopedia for success for any entrepreneur.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Be hungry, start now, and put yourself in an environment that supports what you want to do in life. Find opportunities that align with your passion and ensure you’re having fun. It’s extremely important to put yourself in those environments and absorb as much information as possible. If you’re in the right place, your experience will be extremely valuable for the skills you’ll need as an entrepreneur.

Additionally, continue to take the extra step to network with others. You’ll be surprised how many amazing people you can meet and how small the world is as you begin to meet more people. Any time invested into networking is valuable to help build your reputation and you’ll always have that strong network and your reputation to fall back on.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

When you’re in the tech space, you’re always looking to grow and hire more talented people. For full-time positions, we’re sourcing full-time engineers, and have continued opportunities for partnerships with sports podcasts, content creators, writers, brands, and influencers. As we continue to grow our community, we’re excited to work alongside some amazing people!

Where can we go to learn more?

Check us out at the website. Use code “Story” to get a free $10 on sign-up. Once there, we’re constantly keeping the community updated with the latest.

Otherwise, check us out on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

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Greg Kajewski, Founder of BettorEdge
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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