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Startup Spotlight: Betting on autopilot
A project to automate betting strategies for personal use has evolved into Fireswan, an app that aims to disrupt the sportsbook market using artificial intelligence. Co-founder Maksym Shyroki talks iGaming Business through its development.
What does Fireswan do?
Fireswan is a rapidly growing tool that assists those looking to bet on sports. Our application is designed to make the process fast and easy to automate strategies, utilising complex algorithms supported by artificial intelligence technology.
The application simplifies the process of finding picks for those new to the world of sports betting through to those who are old hands at taking a punt. We plan to offer a large number of easy to follow betting strategies for a variety of sports across the globe, so our users have a choice.
How did you come up with the idea?
My business partner and I are interested in sports betting. Being a software specialists with over 15 years of shared experience, we thought that our own betting strategies could be automated, so we just need to give an instruction to the software for it to do the job for us. It was decided to create the simple app for internal purposes, but when we released the very first version of this application we realised that it may be interesting for other punters and invited a limited number of people from Reddit to try out what we did.
The feedback we received exceeded our expectations. People who tried the app started to ask about more features and people who just discovered the app asked about access to beta version. We evolved, changed a lot of things and are finally crafting what we think the app should be.
How does it work? Does it require buy-in from the experienced bettors to make it work? Or can you fully automate the process?
We offer betting strategies which are generating the picks on a regular basis. Any person with different betting skills can easily follow the strategy and place recommended picks with the bookmaker of their choice. For now it’s semi-automated process, however we are planning a small “revolution” in sports betting by offering fully automated betting using Fireswan strategies. We call it autopilot, and this is what we presented to the industry players at the World Gaming Executive Summit (WGES) this summer.
How do you position the business; do you see it as a tool for novice bettors to learn, or for experienced players to increase their wins?
We are building a tool that will be useful for bettors of any level. It used to be a bit more complicated in the past, when we asked users to create their own strategies using in-app builder, but then we realised that the less decisions user makes and the less user does - the more pleasant experience they have. So now, you have to be 18 years old to start using Fireswan. It is an easy process in a world full of tipsters and human error. At the moment we position our app as an analytical and recommendations tool with the potential to be an investment instrument for betting.
Do you plan to work with the wider betting industry, such as through partnerships with operators?
The future autopilot feature will most likely be integrated with operators. However, the final decision is yet to be made as we are on alpha testing stage now and trying to understand the pros and cons of such integrations.
What sort of funding have you raised?
This business is self funding at the moment. We decided that the freedom to make our own decisions is more important on this stage of product life cycle and didn’t look for funding actively. However we did have a couple of meetings with potential investors to explore the future partnership when this business will have to scale.
How have you found the fundraising process? Has it been hard work or have you found that the quality of your product has attracted investors?
The fundraising process is tough by default. As I stated before we haven’t done much effort to find investors. I think, when your product attracts users across the world and industry people, the funding is a matter of time. As we like to say in our team, it is another business task. Currently we are in the final stage to be accepted to “Acceleradar” program by Sportradar. It is not funding yet, but something that opens opportunities.
Do you have much interaction with other startups? How has this helped the development of Fireswan?
We do indeed. I would say that this is one of the most existing things doing the new business. We realised that sharing ideas and problems with other people from your domain helps to find the best solutions and make the most effective decisions. Thanks to Jonny Robb and his GamblingStartup.Ventures, for example, we’ve been invited to the World Gaming Executive Summit event, which has boosted our product a lot. From our side we are trying to share our development experience and help startups that struggle with industrialising their products.
Fireswan at a glance:
Product: Betting strategy tool
Founded: November 2018
Founders: Maksym Shyrokyi, Dmitry Yakimenko
Launch date: Dec 21, 2018 (public beta)
Sports: Football is available; basketball, hockey and esports are coming
Location: Registered in Estonia, R&D in Ukraine