Last year was a key one for WagerWire, a sports betting platform with the mission to shake up the current gaming landscape. The start-up’s proposition allows users to buy and sell previously placed sports bets, in an integrated trading marketplace that offers players new optionality and a way to play line movements and momentum swings.
“Watching sports and participating in sports betting is simply more fun when enjoyed with friends. This was actually the very catalyst for founding WagerWire,” CEO Zach Doctor tells Yogonet. Through the company’s proposition, bettors are invited to treat their bets as assets to be bought and sold at any time while simultaneously joining WagerWire’s growing community of sports fans.
If 2022 marked a major turning point for WagerWire through the completion of a $3 million seed round and the announcement of a slate of partnerships, including one with sports betting platform Wagr, 2023 already looks like a promising follow-up.
In only one month, the business has already signed a strategic technology partnership with B2B live event wagering software firm Sparket, which Doctor says will make pari-mutuel markets become tradable after the event begins and the windows are closed for the first time.
In conversation with Yogonet, WagerWire’s CEO reflects on these achievements, discusses the current sports betting landscape at large, and explains what role education and innovation are called to play in advancing the wagering experience for the next generation of bettors.
WagerWire has said in previous statements it is building “the greatest next-generation online betting experience.” What does this concept entail and how is it reflected in the company’s proposition?
WagerWire was founded with the mission of driving the sports betting industry forward and building the type of online betting experience that we personally wished existed. We deliver on this mission with an innovative marketplace for active sports bets that solves the problems and pain points bettors currently experience. We empower bettors to treat their bets as assets that can be bought and sold at any time at fair market-based prices. With WagerWire, bettors are no longer forced to decide between letting it ride, hedging, or taking a predatory cashout offer. Now they can jump in and out of futures all season, cash in on parlays before the bust, and trade game lines until the buzzer.
As sportsbooks look ahead to the next chapter of the industry and are faced with stiff competition, high customer acquisition costs, and lack of player loyalty, we want them to know that WagerWire is here to help. Our integrated marketplace, as well as our B2B plug-in natively within sportsbook apps, delivers our sportsbook partners a new channel of product differentiation, clever hooks for user acquisition and earned media, and stickier engagement.
The company has recently signed a number of partnerships, including one with venture-backed sports betting platform Wagr. How was this agreement reached and what makes Wagr a suitable partner for WagerWire?
Wagr represents an ideal operator partner, as we have both identified a lot of the same problems with the sports betting experience and are very aligned on core values. Our partnership really came together at G2E this past October. The founders Eliana and Mario are brilliant and lead an extremely talented and impressive team. The partnership is focused on delivering the ultimate bettor experience through innovative technology, fostering a highly engaged social community, and empowering bettor education and inclusiveness.
Last month, we also learned about a partnership with Sparket, with WagerWire’s technology set to be integrated into their ‘bet-on-anything’ platform. What new functionalities will this open for players?
The Sparket team is an absolute pleasure to work with and we couldn’t be more excited about this partnership. Through our partnership, for the first time in history, pari-mutuel markets will now become tradable after the event begins and the windows are closed. Secondary market functionality will be available for Sparket bets to be traded on WagerWire’s mobile app as well as within Sparket’s platform.
We are also joining forces in a social capacity. WagerWire has invited Sparket into our rapidly growing community of sports fans and bettors, and we will also utilize Sparket’s free-to-play custom betting markets to create entertaining and engaging opportunities for our followers. For example, in February we are hosting the “Wire Awards” in honor and appreciation of our social team and content creators. Our entire community will be able to bet on Sparket for their favorite interviews, hosts, shows, articles, videos, and more! (for chips of course).
You have previously said WagerWire fosters “an active and engaged community” where bettors are empowered. Why is this “social-centric” ethos so important to WagerWire, and in which way is it integrated, both in its proposition and the partnerships it signs?
Watching sports and participating in sports betting is simply more fun when enjoyed with friends. This was actually the very catalyst for founding WagerWire. My co-founder and roommate at the time, Travis Geiger, arrived home after the game had already kicked off. He didn’t want to take the live line, he wanted to ride the same action as me and root for the same outcome. That sparked our initial business planning, and soon we set out to build a betting marketplace that could deliver this solution at scale.
In addition to our product empowering bettors, we have been really blessed to be embraced by such a vibrant and engaged social media community. Our incredible team of creators is publishing original articles and videos, and hosting multiple live Twitter Spaces shows per day. We have also put this ethos into action with our partnership with the Gaming Society, the sports betting content company founded by Jaymee Messler of the Players’ Tribune, and Kevin Garnett.
The company says its betting experience is heightened by the use of innovative technology, high levels of social media engagement, and bettor education. Would you say these are areas the current betting landscape is failing to address?
Absolutely. The sports betting industry as it currently stands is a very commoditized industry. You’re going to get the same betting experience essentially with any online sportsbook you pick. We know from our industry research and our growing WagerWire social community that users want something different.
There is also an inherent conflict of interest with sportsbook operators trying to provide betting education to the very users they are relying on to profit from their losses. At WagerWire, we are not the house and we aren’t playing against our users. This allows us the opportunity to provide unbiased educational content and aim to give players the best chance to succeed and be entertained.
WagerWire garnered plenty of interest from the industry last year, completing a seed round backed by notable investors and a number of strategic partnerships. What do you expect from this year in regard to partnering with new sportsbooks and other entities? And what can you tell us about the upcoming launch of WagerWire’s free mobile app?
We’re incredibly proud to have raised our seed round led by Miami Marlins co-owner and legendary seed investor Roger Ehrenberg (IA Sports Ventures), and including Betr & Simplebet founder Joey Levy, former head of NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement George Rover, Fantasy Alarm founder Rick Wolf, Cardinal Sports Capital, HPL Digital Sport, NBA All-Star Richard Jefferson, and more.
As we look ahead, we have some really exciting things on the horizon. There are more big partnerships to be announced, and we are rolling out the WagerWire mobile app for a soft launch this spring. It is a category-defining mobile app with sportsbook syncing and real-time value tracking of your bets, custom content, and social features. We are starting with a free-to-play bet trading marketplace with learning modules and prizes that anyone in the US will be able to enjoy, even if you are not in a legal gaming state. This will allow us to harness the momentum of our community growth and educate our users about this new innovation so they are primed for real money trading as sportsbook integrations turn on.
WagerWire has called education “the industry’s greatest opportunity to grow and expand.” How do the company’s strategies tackle this scenario where access to education seems to be lacking?
It is clear to us that education is currently a barrier to broad adoption but also represents the largest opportunity to bring the next wave of sports bettors into the industry. Lack of education and understanding were the top reasons cited for not participating in sports betting in a survey we conducted last year. Of non-bettors, 43 percent said “they don’t feel like they know enough about sports betting” and 41 percent said “they don’t know enough about how to bet online.”
We are taking this challenge head-on with our original content and educational materials that can help anyone from a total novice to a seasoned veteran. This cause is furthered by partnering with companies like Gaming Society to give our users and broader community access to quality content and help overcome the obstacles standing in the way of would-be bettors.