The phenomenon that is the SBC First Pitch competition made its way to Toronto last week for the first-ever Canadian version of the start-up competition at the Canadian Gaming Summit.
- Benjie Cherniak, Principal at Avenue H Capital LLC
- Mohit Kansal, Managing Director at Clarivest
- Dani Lipkin, Managing Director of the Global Innovation Sector of TMX Group
- Emily McIlquham, Investment Analyst at Relay Ventures
- Scott Secord, Partner at Cardinal Capital Sports
In the end, the judges chose Linemate, a B2C app for entry-level sports bettors.
“What we are really focused on at Linemate is really being the sports betting research brand for [new] users. We believe that with the right motives, it can be deemed as simple enough as just about knowing where to start,” explained Linemate co-founder Calvin Konya in his pitch.
“In the sports betting landscape, there are really two things we know for certain. One, the opportunities calculated are significant. We all know that by 2030 this industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10 points to reach $182 billion. We know that for one and two, we know that operators are deploying significant amounts of capital against media investments to draw in or acquire this new user.”
Linemate currently offers an aggregation of odds, analytics, and data across major sports leagues and sportsbooks. Konya explained that the soon-to-launch Discovery page on the app to maximize appeal with brand-new bettors as opposed to more engaged sports betting customers. He compared it to what Expedia offers for travel.
Linemate focused on time-saving and simplicity
“We’re essentially redefining analytics and we’re doing this through two focal points. One is solving for time,” he explained. This is through aggregation as well as an emphasis on data visualization so bettors can quickly glance at something and draw conclusions as opposed to diving deeply into a set of numbers. The other goal is to make sports betting more simple.
“How do we reduce complexity? For us, while most of the competitive landscape is really focused on analytical depth to beat the book as their motive, we’re really focused on the visual component of our platform, making sure that our UI/UX strategies are in line to be able to engage the user, allow them to consume data in a meaningful way, and allow them to actively use it.”
After an initial period behind a paywall, Linemate is now pursuing a freemium model and also works with a dozen or so affiliates. One of the questions from the judges was how they planned to make money while another inquired about how to expand the rollout.
Konya noted they have organically acquired 36,000 users without deploying capital on marketing costs. He did note that those customers are generally more experienced sports bettors and the brand-new bettors the brand hopes to acquire in the long-term.
What Linemate wins along with First Pitch title
When asked about how the victory felt, Konya said the validation was the most important part.
“We’re definitely proud. We’ve done a lot of work. We’ve been at this for over two years. We feel like we’ve got a bold mission statement and value prop, so it’s refreshing to see that people feel the same as us. They believe in us and they feel like we can accomplish a ton. We appreciate the opportunity and it’s been a good ride.”
For the win, Linemate receives a prize package worth C$35,000. The package includes:
- An exclusive brand or web design package worth over C$3,700 from Vegas Kings, the leading iGaming design and development agency
- SBC Media promotional package including six months advertising on SBC Americas (sbcamericas.com) or Canadian Gaming Business (canadiangamingbusiness.com), newsletter advertising, and two featured editorials promoting the business valued at over C$16,000
- Two drafted press releases at any time during 2023 with any news/product updates that you would like to share with the industry, distributed to all iGaming B2B media and the US via Business Wire (Ensuring coverage on Bloomberg, Yahoo! Finance, etc.), a video interview produced and shared by GameOn, and two additional thought leadership articles that would be placed within a media partner of SBC (valued at over CA $4,900)
- A Receptional prize pack valued at C$ 13,000 (The Receptional team will collaborate with the winning company to provide a tailored digital marketing package)