Mastering the fantasy games played for real money is something that has quite the history. Before the Internet changed the world of fantasy sports, there were certain publications, especially in Europe, regularly offering paid fantasy football for and a weekly prize. Now the Internet has changed the playing field and now the best fantasy games are playable free with big prizes for the winners.
This in mind makes you wonder why, right now, there are a number of firms aiming to enter the gambling industry with what is a concept that some would call slightly outdated. It’s this social/fantasy/real-money route that recent start-up Trade Chase is looking to hang on the coattails of with their fantasy stock market trading game.
The concept is the brainchild of two former Oxford University students, Colin Smith and James Tromans. Smith might sound familiar as one eighth of the rowing team that won silver at the Beijing Olympics four years ago and soon after the aforementioned MBA put his mind to creating a gambling industry cash cow. Smith wanted no part of the London 2012 experience and showed himself to be a bigger man by admitting to the Daily Telegraph in 2009 that an Olympics on home soil “should have no impact on an athlete’s desire to be the best in the world”.
That was that and a multiple boat race winner with Oxford was out of the fold – for good.
It was after this that a mutual friend introduced Smith and Tromans and after realizing their ideas were similar they started to work together on the project around two years ago in late 2010.
Their site works by giving people the chance to win money betting on the movement of stocks without having to invest in the stocks themselves and thus taking the risk out of financial trading, as Smith explains.
“Trade Chase will work because it has the best of both worlds – it is as accessible as spread betting, fun, easy to understand and keeps the costs low. Furthermore, it is a very easy transition for poker players and other gamers to understand and get playing right away,” Smith told CalvinAyre.com.
The two founders dub it “like online poker” where instead of cards there is “real money market data”. It leaves you thinking what is the target market for a product of this ilk?
“Broadly speaking, our target market comprises aspiring young adults with university educations and an interest in betting or financial markets,” Tromans said. “Given industry trends, we expect to have a larger proportion of males than females, but we have developed our site to appeal to both. In terms of geography, our primary focus is the UK right now, but we are actively marketing in some other major markets”.
That’s all well and good although you have to ask yourself the question as to whether this isn’t slightly too close to the market targeted by sports betting firms? You obviously have the financial element to it, which is fairly unique, and it’s there that they should be targeting most of their marketing. In terms of the other markets they’ve looked at, rather unsurprisingly they’ve taken to staking their bets on the US market.
“We have a number of different aims and targets for the next 12 months. The main ones are reaching cash flow break-even and operating in the USA. Obviously this equates to user number targets and revenue per user targets, but those are confidential,” Smith said.
Being in US is a huge draw for a lot of firms in the industry and this all whilst the fastest growing continent, Asia, remains off the radar in the minds of many-a-firm. The market’s more lucrative for a start and the bureaucratic red tape that exists in the US is nowhere near as prevalent in Asia. When it comes to being regulated and licensed in Europe they pulled off a masterstroke by going through the lengthily process that is gaining a licence from the UK Gambling Commission.
“Getting a UK gambling license was difficult as it is a high standard to achieve both technically and organizationally. Given the unique nature of our games, it was initially unclear whether or not we required a license from the Gambling Commission or the FSA, or both,” Tromans explained. “If the development time and initial legal enquiries are included, the entire process took over a year.”
Right now things are steady with the site just passing 1,000 users and the pair indicated this is a figure they’re “relatively pleased with” as the marketing spend has been far lower than anticipated. The amount of users will be key to any progress they make from here on in and are far more of a determining factor than how many jurisdictions they operate in. If they get this part right the silver lining their pockets will be over and above anything the Olympics could ever have offered Smith and his trusty oars.