Continuing on with the CalvinAyre.com call for innovators and innovator series, the next company we’d like to profile is Winafy, a US-based next-generation bet tracking and analytics platform, or the “Mint.com for sports bettors and real-money fantasy players”, as Founder Morgan Simonson likes to say.
What’s unique about Winafy is that the system tracks a single punter’s betting activity across all sportsbooks and local betting options, providing instant analytics and insight into their wagering behavior. By using a system like Winafy, punters can easily identify their strengths and weaknesses and will have access to tools and dashboards that enable them to bet smarter.
In this exclusive interview with CalvinAyre.com, Simonson tells us more about Winafy’s DNA, shares the details of his professional background and provides several pieces of advice for other entrepreneurs in the online gambling industry space.
Becky Liggero: Thank you very much for joining me, Morgan- we’re impressed by your work. Lets start with your background, what kind of experience did you have before launching Winafy?
Morgan Simonson: Most recently I served on the executive team as SVP of Sales for Efficient Frontier, the world’s largest Search Engine Marketing optimization platform. EF was acquired by Adobe, and I spent almost 2 years at Adobe before founding Winafy. Prior to EF I enjoyed roles at About.com, Overture, which was acquired by Yahoo, and I currently serve as an Advisor to a variety of technology start-ups in the ad technology and consumer Internet arenas.
BL: Can you give me the backstory on how you came up with the concept for Winafy?
MS: I’ve been a sports bettor for 20 years and had the good fortune of working for Internet companies that built the very best online analytics platforms. It was really the merging of those two passions that led to Winafy.
One of the biggest pain points for Sports investors is tracking their activity, doing so across books and analyzing their behavior to optimize strategy. In early 2013, I was giving thought to existing utilities that could be adapted and leveraged for sports bettors. I actually had a late night epiphany: Mint.com for sports bettors and daily fantasy players. We started development in the summer of 2013 and the rest is history.
In general, sports bettors have been largely underserved and not afforded the tools that participants in other trade-able markets, like the stock market, have enjoyed. This underscores Winafy’s broader vision of bringing leading edge technology and real-time data to the side of sports bettors and daily fantasy players.
BL: You followed your passions- that’s always the best way to go. Tell me exactly what Winafy brings to the table that is different than manual bet trackers?
MS: Our unique propositions are automation, aggregation and insight, allowing sports investors to save time and money. Our technology allows you to sync Winafy with your existing sports book accounts, automatically pulling in your betting activity and provide seamless instant tracking without the need to do any manual data entry. And we handle all sports, all bet types. If you can bet it, we can track it. Second is the aggregation aspect of providing holistic tracking across books regardless of whether you utilize our unique auto-syncing capability or manual book option, and third is insightful analytics.
We’ve focused much of our energy on providing a vast array of reports, graphs and analytics that you just can’t find anywhere else. We automatically splice and dice data to provide views into your performance by sport, bet type, and even allow you to custom query historical data to understand your performance on precise betting segments. Sometimes simple analysis such as ROI by sport can be meaningful; sometimes much finer insights are the value drivers.
Winafy also has a social element. You can tweet unit results straight from the platform, with verified visual proof, important for those that need to illustrate success, or just want to share their activity with others in their social network.
BL: Sounds like a dream come true for avid sports gamblers. So what new features can we expect from Winafy over the next 6-12 months?
MS: We’re focused on a few key areas. First is integrating with more books. Ultimately our goal is to securely integrate and automate tracking with as many online books as possible. Secondly, we’re always working on proactively providing additional analytics to subscribers to make them sharper. For example, we already doing some interesting things with odds such as broadcasting real-time line moves on Twitter via @NFLOddsMoves and @NBAOddsMoves, but we want to personalize that to help folks understand things like how they perform against the closing line and how to better shop lines, minimize juice.
BL: So far things sound quite US-centric. What plans do you have for the sports betting market outside of the US?
MS: We already have a number of international subscribers who either utilize books we already ‘connect’ with or leverage our manual book option, which serves as an additional option for users (such as in Vegas) with local betting options. Across both options the feedback on the analytics the platform delivers has been very strong. So in that sense we can already serve any punter worldwide, and do so better than their current solution.
But we’re planning to add more international books to broaden our appeal. Folks tend to rave when they first connect a book, click “connect” and see all of their activity populate in 20 seconds with graphs, reports. We want to make that experience, and easy tracking available to as many people as possible.
BL: That sounds great. Sports betting are certainly a global activity. As an innovator and entrepreneur, what it the best piece of advice you can give to someone who wants to launch a new business in the iGaming space?
MS: First, I’d say, follow the law. As a highly regulated industry, obviously super important to follow the laws of your local jurisdiction. Winafy is a ‘read-only’ platform, where we don’t place bets, move money or promote or facilitate gambling in any way.
I’d also encourage folks to poll the marketplace before entering. There’s lots of great tools from social networks to free polling apps, and of course the forums are a great resource to understand whether there’s true demand for your idea and what’s most important to your target audience.
From there, the best advice I can give is to get into market quickly and listen to users. As much as you might think you’re the customer, you’re not. Actual consumers of the product rule, and we certainly focus a lot of attention on listing to Winafy subscribers, utilizing feedback to drive product priorities.
We also allow folks to folks to try the platform free, and this allows us to get even more, valuable fast feedback.
BL: Morgan, thank you so much for your time and we wish you the best of luck with your new venture.