Lee Davy sits down with Nathan Hunt, CEO of the decentralised, analytical blockchain platform for smart e-sports betting, Bettium, to talk about his plans to disrupt the industry, customer value and much more.
I don’t know why I gambled. Of course, it made the game more interesting when watching it on the box. How pointless a horse race becomes without a flutter. Golf and cricket, two games that are about as interesting as coming across a dog in a zoo, make orgasms seem dull.
But that wasn’t it.
I wanted to stick two fingers up to the industrialised nation, and hide behind the blacked out windows, writing love letters on old yellow slips.
But I was never any good at it.
Nathan Hunt, CEO of Bettium, the company you are about to fall in love with, reminds you that 90% of bettors lose money. I was one of those, typing numbers into my Belarusian horse laying bot thinking I knew what I was doing.
Bettium turns amateurs into professionals.
They even have an AI called Merlin.
Where have you been all of my life?
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Most of our team members have been involved with betting in the past, and not always with positive results! We do, however, share a love of sports, each in his own way, and have found that betting enhances the fun and excitement of watching sports immensely. Just as in poker, the satisfaction of a well-placed bet is tremendous. And when combined with the adrenaline from watching the real-time competition on the field, the result is unbeatable. The idea of marrying sports betting to blockchain technology and Big Data came from discussions between myself and our CTO Alex Kamilov.
Who are the key players in your organisation?
I wouldn’t say that any individual controls the success of our organisation. Our project utilises the talents of brilliant programmers, coders, designers, marketers, community managers, and product support reps. So far it’s been a winning formula!
What is it you are trying to fix?
The world of sports betting today is broken. Problems with current platforms include lack of transparency, high (and often well-hidden) fees, dependence on banks and third-party payment facilitators that severely limit amounts paid in or out, risk of non-payment from weak operators, a potential for fraud, and vulnerability to hacking. Taken together, these factors have done nothing to improve the perception of the betting industry and have in fact hindered growth at a time when expansion should be rampant with the advent of e-sports. We are using blockchain to mitigate or eliminate these problems, providing peer-to-peer bettors with a safe and transparent eco-system in which they can enjoy the thrill of betting while interacting directly with each other, without a bookmaker or middleman. Blockchain transactions are by their nature P2P, so we also eliminate intermediaries like banks and payment systems. We remove superfluous (“nanny state”) betting limits and ensure that all transactions are set in stone using irrevocable smart contracts. Our usage fees are minimal and lower than those of old-style betting sites, a factor which will propel users to our platform away from traditional bookmakers. In short, we are taking the betting industry to the next level.
Why do you care about this problem?
As mentioned above, many of our team members are professional or amateur bettors themselves and so have direct experience in the industry. It has pained us to see honest fans suffering from an imperfect system that could be fixed by marrying blockchain technology to Big Data. In the space of three years, we will transform the betting market. It will be a pleasure and a privilege to create a system that will make betting fun, easy, and accessible to a wide range of people who have had no exposure in the past.
What are your company’s core values and why?
If I had to summarise our values in a single word, it would be “fairness.” The current system has seen bettors gouged, manipulated, deceived, and sometimes even robbed by fraudulent operators or MITM attacks. We will bring a new standard of fairness, openness, and transparency that will revolutionise the industry at its core.
How do these values influence your decisions and practices?
Our values translate naturally into what we’re building on a daily basis – all the features of the platform, all basic principles. Our system will be designed and operated with the user in mind. Fairness, transparency, and efficiency will make interactions with Bettium quick, easy, fun and profitable for millions of bettors.
What’s your customer’s story?
Our platform is designed with various groups in mind, ranging from amateurs to experts, from e-sports players to software developers. We are an analytical platform where people don’t even have to place bets to use the platform, so it’s hard to talk about a typical customer – there simply is none. One fact to keep in mind, however, is that 90% of bettors worldwide lose money in the long run, for various reasons. We are “righting the wrong” by providing that 90% with the tools used by the other 10% to succeed – tools that will make a professional bettor out of any amateur. These include Big Data and AI algorithms that can be used to design a reliable, stable betting strategy that produces a real profit over the long term. Professionals sell their services as experts for a handsome profit to the general public; we will provide the same expertise at a fraction of the cost. Bettium features deep data analysis, a comprehensive databank, and a powerful, self-learning AI assistant named “Merlin”, who will access Big Data, process it, digest it into understandable chunks and provide reliable recommendations for specific sporting bets. Numerous conditions can be considered at the bettor’s request: how well certain teams do against other opponents, in certain weather conditions, with or without certain key players, against certain types of offences or defences – the list is endless. Even the least experienced bettors will find they can make intelligent and profitable bets based on real data and detailed analysis, rather than a coin toss.
If you could only achieve one thing in 2018 what would it be and why?
All the major milestones in our roadmap, like the alpha release of the platform for testers, implementation of core functionality, etc. – these are all important to us. If I had to choose, I would say the design of the neural network and launch of the interface are crucial – just to prove that it can be done.
Why is this goal important to you?
A functional alpha version is important for any tech startup. This is what demonstrates to the market our seriousness and the feasibility of our idea. This is our proof of concept and the first step on our road to success.
What happens in the future because of your work?
Betting becomes an open, transparent, and honest pastime, doubling or tripling the pleasure average people derive from sporting events. The reputation of the industry is enhanced, and we bring value to stakeholders while bringing pleasure to users.
What three things do you want to achieve in the next five years and why?
Our overall goal is to secure 10% of the online betting market over that timeframe. We will become a well-known name in e-sports as we become a major organiser and sponsor of tournaments. We will also become the premier platform for betting tournaments, a new concept whereby AI “avatars” compete with each other not only on the outcome of sporting events but also on the betting strategies and algorithms themselves. We’ll become a leader in this new space, where success will be based not on a single match but on the amalgamated results of a series of matches or an international tournament.
How do you measure success?
Our success will be reflected in returns to shareholders and the strength of our BETT token. It should be noted that the BETT is not a “token for the sake of a token”, but will have real value and utility as the base unit of exchange in our ecosystem. We all know that coin values typically double or triple or quadruple in the opening days/weeks after an ICO – our job will be to keep them there.
Success requires competitive advantage. Blockchain provides key advantages to our project – low fees, instantaneous transactions, full transparency and 100% reliability of data. Our chief task is to attract existing users to a stronger, safer, more efficient and more reliable platform. Most of our competitors are bookmaker operations where players bet against “the house”. Disinterested in the player’s success, these companies win when their users lose. They even blacklist players who have demonstrated repeated success and ability, as bookmakers cannot afford to keep playing against well-informed bettors.
Some of our competitors have certain aspects of the system (blockchain transactions, P2P betting), but none have all the features. Bettium combines AI assistants, algorithmic betting support, social betting, trust account management, access to experts and forecasts, a ranking system, bet mimicking, e-sporting sponsorship, and AI League into a single ultra-functional platform that will radically transform the way common people relate to sports today. The system’s analytical potential may even allow us to expand beyond sports in the future – but that’s a story for another day!
Why does your customer need your product?
The current market for sports betting is broken, and we are the fixer.
How will you gain his trust and loyalty?
Functionality is king, and we will deliver a fun, intuitive, profitable platform that is easy to navigate and makes money for the user. What better way to earn trust?
What risk are you NOT taking?
Some have suggested we could use the anonymity of the crypto-world to help users skirt laws or regulations in their respective jurisdictions. On the contrary, our users will undergo a rigorous KYC/AML protocol that ensures people utilise the platform properly and legally, for the recreational purpose for which it was intended.
How does your business make you feel?
Like a million bucks. In our world, every amateur is a professional, and Bettium is their key.
Nathan Hunt has served as General Manager and CEO of Bettium.com since the company’s inception. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA) since 1996 and was Chairman of CERBA’s National Board of Directors from 2009 through 2013 as well as Chairman of the Moscow Chapter of CERBA from September 2001 to the present. Over the past ten years, he has served as a full partner or investor in numerous European ventures connected with real estate, residential construction, hospitality, film/TV production, science and the food industry.