ICE 2016 made a big push to cater to start-ups and innovation in the online gambling industry, a theme that has been going strong for a few years now at Clarion’s events. Features of ICE dedicated to start-ups included Pitch ICE, Start-up Academy, GamCrowd Studio for start-ups and the “games to watch” competition.
Feedback from start-ups about their time at ICE was overwhelmingly positive, at least according to the start-ups I spoke with. My good friend David Sargeant, Founder of iGaming Ideas, works many start-ups but two in particular, BetUp and SnapBet, found great value in attending ICE 2016.
BetUp is an in-play fan engagement tool that uses a pools model to both entertain and educate sports fans. At ICE, BetUp announced Unibet as their launch partner.
“What we’ve done with BetUP is not only create an intuitive live betting experience but also build a narrative around that experience. We are putting in-play into a wider context so it will appeal to the type of sports fans who might otherwise be intimidated by standard fixed-odds betting”, said Tamir Berler, CEO and Founder of BetUP.
SnapBet is minute-by-minute social betting game with an easy acquisition path for sports and e-sports real money gambling. SnapBet won the “game to watch” competition at ICE with well-established developers such as Colossus, CORE and Leap Gaming as their competition.
“I am a newcomer to the gaming industry. I began playing various sports gaming apps and desktop games a couple of years ago and just felt let down as they were unclear in their user experience and design, complicated with loads of data thrown at the user and very demanding in terms of time. I preferred playing Angry Birds and saw the success of other mobile games where simplicity was the driver”, said SnapBet Founder Peter Gough when asked about the innovation behind his product.
Opportunities at ICE 2016 for start-ups
The importance of attending as many iGaming events as possible as a start-up cannot be stressed enough by the experts. Such events provide a platform for getting new products out into the open and facilitate making new contacts within the industry. ICE 2016 followed through on its promise to spotlight start-ups and provide value for entrepreneurs who made the commitment to attend and participate.
“We have been part of Pitch ICE and then returned this year to provide prospective start ups with an update in terms of the progress we have made since teaming up with GamCrowd. We also got the opportunity to enter the Game To Watch competition and came away with the award”, said Gough.
Berler added, “ICE is always a fantastic opportunity, not only to make connections, but also to get a real feel for where the industry is heading and what gaps in the markets need to be filled. It is also a great chance to chat and exchange tips with other start-ups trying to make that big breakthrough. The exposure we received from announcing our Unibet deal in the ICE daily really helped generate buzz for us”.
Sargeant is no stranger to ICE and has been attending the event for many years. Now that he’s involved with iGaming Ideas, taking advantage of what ICE has to offer for start-ups is top of mind.
“ICE provided many focal points for startups- Fresh 8 were involved in the quickfire operator challenge and SnapBet won the game to watch. The pitch competition also gives a pedestal to startups looking for exposure and the ICE daily provides great exposure for announcements during the event”, Sargeant shared.
David Sargeant and iGaming Ideas- more support for start-ups
In addition to events such as ICE, the industry offers more support to start-ups in the form of incubators and consultancies such as Sargeant’s iGaming Ideas.
“iGaming Ideas works with startups that are trying to innovate by being different, have good teams and are clear with their business objectives. Both of these startups are innovating live betting in different ways – SnapBet via instant interactions, and BetUp via a softer fan engagement mentality. Both these companies should have a pivotal year ahead”, Sargeant shared.
Having support and a network of contacts from someone like Sargeant can make or break an entrepreneur’s success in a tight-knit industry such as iGaming, something the BetUP and SnapBet founders both understand.
“David has been a great help to us. He is very knowledgeable about the sector, has fantastic contacts and is a real innovator himself. It’s great to have someone like David on board to help us bring this product to market and then target the leading operators”, said Berler.
Gough agreed and added, “As soon as I met with David he provided the guidance needed to take my idea from its beta format to a market ready position, and that can involve advice around product design, funding, sales, marketing and more. It is the positive reaction I get from key industry figures when they learn that David is involved with SnapBet that provides the confidence you require as a gaming start-up”.
Advice from iGaming Start-ups for iGaming Start-ups
While working with the experts and seasoned industry professionals can do wonders for a start-up, taking advice from those who are in the same boat can be enormously helpful as well. Berler and Gough were happy to share their best piece of advice with start-ups who are looking to get their foot into the iGaming industry.
“Offer something different. There is still plenty of room for innovation in our industry but we are not seeing a great deal in the sportsbook field. If you can present an operator with a solution which expands their user base or creates better engagement with existing customers, it is possible to make an impact very quickly”, shared Berler.
“Go to ICE and make GamCrowd your first port of call for advice. If you can get positive advice from there, look to put together a ‘lean’ version of your idea and take it step by step. Talk to as many people as possible and get some initial KPIs to then see if you have a business model that works”, Gough said.