With any B2B start-up the hardest solution is the first customer. Every presentation a start-up attends they will be asked about metrics. Without real sales there are no metrics, and without metrics your business plan is guesswork.
So without real metrics a start-up needs to meet a believer. A potential customer who understands the model and the product vision and believes your customer research and customer surveys (which are never ever critical for some reason).
So how does a start-up do this? iGaming Ideas advises startups through this journey but wanted to share some of the learnings.
- Pitch differently. People will always lump you in with companies that have gone before you. Don’t be just another ‘social-sports-betting-mobile thingamajig’.
- Know how to approach an operator - they aren't all alike. Every successful operator exists for a reason, targets a different demographic, and has a different brand philosophy. Make sure your start-up is compatible with the operator and where they are going.
- Doing the deal is only the beginning of the battle - a start-up often trumpets about the signing of a contract but without support from the marketing team customers won’t hear about it, without support from the product team customers won’t be able to find it, and without support from the business team you won't be set fair targets to be judged by.
- De-risk the operator challenge. Start-ups perceive integration and launch to be trivial software tasks. This isn’t the case for large technology platforms. The deeper the product integrates to a platform the less likely it will be to ever launch. Finding easy and tried-and-tested integration routes will make it easier to absorb a start-up product.
- Find time to learn. Many operators are happy to try products, but if success isn’t immediate new products are often dumped before they can absorb any learnings. Set realistic expectations with your customers (which is difficult when the pitch is ‘the next big thing’).
- Find an internal champion. A start-up won’t be successful without support through all those challenges. Having a go-to advisor
- Create formal and informal channels. Sometimes an off-the-record chat can help smooth negotiations that wouldn't get resolved in public.
So iGaming Ideas has been working with Commologic to bring it’s BetUp product to market. Tamir Berler, the founder and CEO of Commologic, had an amazing pedigree but as a start-up needed help positioning the product and creating awareness.
BetUp as a product also had its own challenges. The message was full of buzzwords: second screen, mobile, social, fan engagement, in-play. These things have been done many times before but BetUp was a new style of product and that was the message we had to educate our customers with. To make things harder BetUp is a pools product which means there are liquidity hurdles to overcome. Many initial meetings were along the lines of ‘we love it, but come back when you have a liquid product’. However, we persevered, found an initial customer, built liquidity, and are now rolling out new operators to join the BetUp network.
I asked Erik Backlund, head of sportsbook at Unibet, what he what he looks for in a start-up and what he saw differently in BetUp.
“I think it’s quite simple. There are two aspects that play a role when you meet a start-up. The idea/concept and the people behind it. The product has to be simple to understand and excite at the same time. The team behind it have to be trustworthy and someone you believe you can work with.
“What I liked with BetUp was the person behind it Tamir. We had a great connection from the start and I wanted to work with him. It felt that Unibet and Commologic could make BetUp a success even though the product was early stage. This didn’t matter as I had confidence in Tamir and his team in being able to drive the product development forward and ensure that Unibet’s requirements were being absorbed too
“Being backed by iGaming Ideas helps too. We know and trust them and they understand our business and what kind of products will work well inside it.”
Tamir concurred. “When we met Unibet we knew we had found our first champion. Every discussion was about how the product can work well within the Unibet product suite, and how to ensure BetUp has the best chance. They were prepared to learn and evolve with us and have been amazingly supportive helping BetUp become a success”.
So Commologic found it's first customer (and now has more signed up). It now faces new exciting challenges to grow and evolve but is able to do that with proven product and proven metrics which makes future conversations that much easier.
HELPING SPORTS BETTING AND IGAMING IDEAS TO MARKET