Rolling with the punches

13 August 2019

In GambingStartup.Ventures’ latest dispatch from the start-up frontline, Jonny Robb discusses how start-up founders quickly become used to operating at extremes. What may appear to be a precarious moment in a business’ development can quickly seem just another obstacle to be conquered.

I recently met a start-up founder at a conference who casually explained how she’d raised £600,000 but the business wasn’t performing and the end of the runway was fast approaching. She said this calmly in passing, like it was some kind of a side note to the general humdrum of her day.

It reminded me of a founder friend who runs a brilliant, but at times precariously balanced, digital agency. More than once he’s confided in me that if their latest pitch doesn’t land, he’s not sure where he’ll find £80,000 to pay his upcoming wage bill. Muttered between casual sips of his pint.

Incredible, I thought. How on earth do these people sleep at night?

That’s the funny thing about running a start-up, though, there’s only so long you can remain aghast at what lies ahead before you do the only thing you can – anything that moves you forward. When under pressure, faced with an obstacle, it’s quite remarkable how resilient and creative you’re forced to be.

The longer you’re in the start-
up game, however, the more you recognise that when one door closes, as cataclysmic as it might seem at the time, other doors inevitably open. These doors can lead to fantastic places, and once you venture through them, your skin becomes that bit thicker and your sleep that bit deeper.

This month we caught up with some of our start-ups in GamblingStartup.Ventures to find out what doors have been opening for them.

First up is SkillCorner with their live match visualisation product that’s powered by Computer Vision and AI video tracking.

“Our live ball tracking has improved considerably over the past few months and we are now close to 96% accuracy, including 3D ball trajectories,” explains head of business development and operations Morgan Jacquin. “We’ve also progressed the automatic detection of performance data such as ball possession, which we should have incorporated into our live match product later this year.”

This is something we at Bettor Faster UX are excited to play with and take to our clients. Being able to connect real- time player stats to slick, low bandwidth visualisations presents some really exciting, unexplored UX opportunities for in-play.

“On the business side, we are proud to have reached an agreement with a leading Premier League club to provide them with raw tracking data to help them with player scouting,” Jacquin adds.
“It’s the latest sign that SkillCorner is on the right track to revolutionise football data collection with fast, accurate and previously unavailable tracking data.”

Next we caught up with Ukraine-based Fireswan, the guys behind a new mobile-focused automated betting strategy product, whose app is evolving at an impressive pace.

“Currently we’re working on our killer feature – backtesting comparison,” says co-founder Max. “In the near future, our users will be able to follow a strategy knowing how it performed last season and if current performance correlates with it.

“We expect return on investment (ROI) to be increasingly more predictable in the next version of our app too.”

Like many of our start-ups, Fireswan is seeking investment and has been out there treading the boards.

“The lesson we’re learning is that every investor wants to see how your product will hit mass market, how easy it is to use and what value it brings,” Max explains. “My advice to every start-up is to be flexible and accept the feedback. It is not easy when your product is criticised, but this is the way to success.”

Wise words and a lesson many start- ups quickly learn. You’ll meet every type of person from those who tell you to stop wasting your time to those who visibly buzz from your vision.

New to GamblingStartup.Ventures, we welcome Lotto Punto who remind us that there’s a whole world of unrealised opportunities out there beyond Europe and America.


“Colombia has a love-hate relationship with cash and paper-based transactions fueled by a deep distrust of internet payments and high online fees,” points out founder Victor Espinosa.

Victor is using this to his advantage to create the first network of patent- pending IoT lottery vending machines installed in high footfall suburban areas. But he’s not content with stopping at gambling.

“If Mariana wants to pay her electricity bill she has to take a one-hour bus ride into the city centre, then queue for an hour and a half, before riding the bus back home,” laments Victor.

“Bringing an unbanked population into the internet economy in Latin America is a tough challenge. In addition to lottery, we will generate cross-selling with
mass consumption virtual products and banking services such as prepaid cell phone time and bill payments."

With 15 state lotteries onboard and ambitions to sell over USD $132 million via 5,000 Lotto Punto machines over the next five years, he is now seeking $500,000 investment to make it a reality.

Closer to home in East London Tech City (aka Silicon Roundabout) we have the Wager team. Elliott and Leo, like us, are pinning their vision of the future on social betting by building an app to let you bet against your friends.

“We are well aware that we are not the first to the party here,” explains co-founder Elliott Robinson. “Many start-ups have tried this and failed. Flutter.com in 2001 was too early (pre-mobile, pre- social networks). More recent attempts have neglected odds and required offline payments.”

But perceptions are now changing. “Sky’s Group Bet feature allows friends to create and place bets together,” Robinson tells me. “But these bets are ultimately still placed against faceless institutions.”

Going after a youth market, he explains, “Millennials check their phones around 150 times a day. On a weekend filled with live sport, I’d wager it’s double that.

And therein, he believes, lies a golden opportunity with a new generation of bettor

Bettor Faster UX and Bet Blocks Messenger founders Jonny Robb and Nilesh Mistry have established GamblingStartup.Ventures, in a bid to connect early-stage gambling businesses around the world.