Our Start-up of the Week is Dublin-based FantasyTote, a fantasy football betting platform.
“FantasyTote is a weekly fantasy football betting site that stands apart from other, overly complex sites currently available in the market,” explained FantasyTote co-founder Thomas Kearns.
“Our core focus is simplicity by removing as many steps as possible between arriving on our site and placing your bet.
“To help achieve this FantasyTote also uses pool betting across our four unique game modes, where all bets of all sizes are placed into one large pool which is then split between the winners.”
FantasyTote is primarily targeted at users of current fantasy football sites within Ireland and UK, of which there are 15m players.
“We also serve a wider audience that includes users from across the whole of the EU.
“In addition, there is significant potential to attract additional users who partake in traditional sports betting. In 2016, the UK online football betting market was worth £6bn and is quickly growing in size.”
FantasyTote’s core goal is simplicity throughout and the main element driving this is its pool betting system.
“Traditional fantasy betting sites adopt the approach of setting up small individual leagues at set prices that users must search through to find the one they want to enter, at the price point they want to play at. This adds an additional layer of unnecessary complexity. This approach also limits the winnings available to users because of the small defined leagues.”
The pool system removes these restrictions.
“The user simply makes their selection and decides how much they want to bet and that’s it, they’re in.
“There is no need to search for specific leagues or ones at the price point they want to bet at. All bets of all sizes are then pooled together into one large pot per game mode. This is then split between the winners based on the amount of their initial bet. It also rewards successful users by giving them access to a much larger pool of winnings as they aren’t restricted to a small defined league.”
FantasyTote is currently self-funded.
“Our product is built and launched. We would love to connect with people and organisations that can help us bring FantasyTote to a wider audience.”
The biggest challenge was obtaining the required licenses for both Ireland and the UK.
“The process of educating the regulators on what our product is and how it differs from traditional betting was a major hurdle we had to overcome.
“As a small startup, particularly in the gambling sector, payment gateways were another test we had to pass. A number of the large payment providers had concerns relating to requirements on payment history, a concern that was even more pronounced as we were a start-up in the gambling industry.
“It was a classic case of the chicken and the egg. To have the payment history we needed the payment provider and vice versa.”
Business model and vision need to align
The start-up scene has become more nuanced and vision and structure go hand-in-hand.
“Innovation is no longer just about having an idea, it must extend to the business model itself, such that founders are not relying on investment rounds to get started and for early expansion.
“There is huge competition for funding at the moment in the start-up scene and your idea must be able to support itself in the beginning. There are a lot of bodies in place at the moment to assist start-ups but they focus on a small range of sectors which may lead to some companies not getting the help and support they need.”
His advice to founders who believe in what they are doing is to be tenacious.
“Don’t be defeated the first time things start to get difficult. Accept from the start that there are going to be challenges and that you will get things wrong.
“Learn from your mistakes, be prepared to change your idea from your initial concept, and remember that persistence is half the battle.
“Surround yourself with those you trust and those you know will challenge your ideas. Try to surround yourself with a wide pool of skillsets that compliment each other.”
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