We asked Brent Winston, co-founder & CEO of BetSwap, to discuss his experience at SBC Summit North America and why he thinks his start-up was the one to win the SBC First Pitch competition in July.
Five start-ups had the opportunity to pitch their business plans to a panel of judges with expertise in venture capital investments within the industry on the final day of the leading sports betting and iGaming event in North America.
BetSwap was awarded the top prize of the SBC First Pitch competition, securing a prize package valued at more than $60,000 to help its development and growth plans.
BetSwap is an online secondary marketplace for sportsbooks that allows buyers to purchase odds that are no longer available on their sportsbook, while sellers get to lock in guaranteed profits before the expiration of their bet slip.
SBC: Hi, Brent. Thanks for accepting our interview request. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
BW: Sure! I’m a corporate-trained M&A lawyer with a dual business and law degree from a prominent university in Ontario, Canada. I’ve worked on multiple start-ups as both a founder and advisor. I’m also a big sports fan (typical, I know). I was a goalie growing up and still play today. Hockey is obviously my favorite sport, being Canadian.
SBC: How did you decide to get involved with the SBC First Pitch North America competition, and how does it feel to be the winner?
BW: I attended my first SBC Summit North America conference and trade show in December 2021 and was keen to participate again this summer because of how productive and enjoyable my first event was.
Funnily enough, I wasn’t planning on entering the SBC First Pitch competition until one of our advisors, Benjie Cherniak, suggested I go for it. Those who know Benjie are aware that he’s typically got pretty good advice and is right more often than not. I sent in the application and was fortunate to be selected as one of the five finalists.
Winning First Pitch was a fantastic feeling. There was some great competition — for BetSwap to be selected as the winner by such an esteemed panel of judges is humbling and validating.
SBC: Let’s talk about BetSwap. How did you come up with the idea that led to your successful business?
BW: As mentioned, I’m a big sports fan. For me, that translates to watching sports and betting on them.
Every Sunday during the fall and winter, I spend time on the couch with my brothers, watching and betting on football. We typically put together 8-10 game parlays for the NFL games and hit one or two every season. Often, we’ll have one leg in the parlay miss, and as a result, we’ll lose the bet. Most of the time, the bets were not provided with a cashout offer. In the instance cashout was available, we knew there was a decent premium we were paying, and cashout would only be available for a short time before the lines of the underlying event(s) changed.
As a result, I wanted to find a way to create a better user experience
and create liquidity for the user’s parlays and future bets.
SBC: What was the ‘problem’ you addressed, and how does your platform solve it?
BW: Currently, bettors can only create liquidity by winning their bet or cashing out — and cash out is always on the sportsbook’s terms.
BetSwap allows users to determine when they sell their bet and for how much they sell it. Simply put, the buyers who use the BetSwap functionality can gain access to bets with odds no longer available on their sportsbooks.
SBC: What do you think gave you that edge over other start-ups competing?
BW: I think my edge may have just been determination. When we commit to doing something at BetSwap, we commit with 110% effort. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. I was the same way growing up playing sports. If I’m going to compete, I’m going to compete with everything I’ve got.
While I think we have a strong product, that’s not always enough in a pitch. You must know your audience and find a way to sell and engage them.
SBC: How do you plan to use the competition prize fund to further strengthen your business?
BW: All the marketing and design packages donated by SBC and VegasKings will be really helpful for aligning our brand’s marketing and getting our name out there.
To have the help and resources of professionals operating successfully in this space for decades is invaluable.
SBC: How has attending SBC’s conferences and trade shows helped you in showcasing your product?
BW: The fact that so many high-profile and well-respected individuals from all areas of the industry attend SBC’s conferences makes it a lot easier to get in front of the right people and show them the product.
It’s really easy to connect with folks on the trade show floor and run through a quick demo — it’s a lot harder to coordinate Zoom meetings, get a feel for an individual’s personality, and connect with an individual over Zoom.
SBC: SBC Summit Barcelona will host its inaugural First Pitch competition in September. What advice would you give to the start-ups entering the competition?
BW: Practice! Everyone knows their product backwards and forwards, but it’s a different story when you’re trying to pitch your product in just three minutes.
I found that if I couldn’t convey our core value proposition in three minutes, I likely wasn’t going to win. The whole purpose of the time limit is to showcase to the judges how well you know your product and how simple your product is.
In order to make sure you can convey your company’s value proposition in the allotted time, you have to draft a clean and crisp script and practice that script over and over and over again until you know it like the back of your hand.
Also, don’t forget that this is still a presentation-based competition. You need to captivate your audience and the judging panel. Your presentation skills definitely factor into the decision-making process. Practice makes perfect!
SBC: What is your favorite thing about working in the industry?
BW: My answer here is two-fold: I love being surrounded by and meeting new intelligent, innovative people. So many individuals in this space are incredibly accomplished and forward-thinking and inspire me to continue to try and be better.
The second part of my answer is that I love sports and betting. The fact I get to try and bring change to an industry I love is hands-down the best part of working in the space.
To know that one day we could have built a product that becomes a staple in the sports betting space and is not just something we use but the world uses globally – that’s pretty special.