Read 6 key slides from a pitch deck that a startup trying to bring elements of TikTok to sports betting used to land $1 million in seed funding
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- Sports and gaming startup Kero Sports has closed $1 million in seed funding.
- Its founder shared with Insider 6 key slides from its investor pitch deck.
- The startup thinks sports-betting platforms need to be as entertaining as TikTok to reach more fans.
Kero Sports, a startup that powers gaming experiences inside the apps of professional sports teams, has closed its first $1 million in seed funding, the company told Insider exclusively.
The startup has attracted some prominent investors in the early-stage sports gambling and online gaming arenas, including Acies Investments, Lloyd Danzig’s Sharp Alpha Fund, David Sargeant’s iGaming Ideas, and more.
Founder and CEO Tomash Devenishek shared with Insider six key slides from the pitch deck that helped it raise the round.
The company, which used to be called Rush Sports, mainly operates a free-to-play gaming experience that uses algorithms to generate bets every 30 seconds or so on the action in game (as shown in the deck below).
It’s trying to emulate the always-on interactive nature of TikTok or Instagram with frequent wagers that users can swipe to bet on and that resolve in minutes as the game unfolds. (A bet could ask, “Which player hits the next 3?” during a basketball game, for example.) There’s also a social component in which users can comment on the action.
Devenishek told Insider that he often referenced in pitch meetings a tweet that he saw when TikTok first started booming. It said something along the lines of, “Congrats, we went from a product that took three seconds of brain power,” in reference to Google, “to one that takes zero.”
“Most technology that is seeing rapid adoption requires less and less effort from consumers to adopt them,” Devenishek said. “That’s what we try and mimic.”
Devenishek said he also liked to open presentations with an image of fans sitting in the stands of a game, glued to their smartphones, to show that for younger generations, “Sports is consumed with a phone in hand.” (The image is not included in the version published below because Insider not have the rights to publish it.)
Kero primarily licenses its white-label product to NBA, NFL, and other sports teams to gamify their apps, the company said. It plans to expand later this year with a version where users will be able to put real money on the line, which will be tailored for sports-betting platforms.
Devenishek said he was often asked in pitch meetings whether he planned to take the product direct-to-consumer. He said the question typically came from Silicon Valley investors who weren’t as familiar with the hyper-competitive US sports-betting landscape, and viewed DTC as the best path to scale.
But Devenishek said he doesn’t want to compete with the DraftKings and FanDuels. He’d rather be a supplier to them, and others in the sports gambling space.
The strategy also speaks to another common question Devenishek said he fielded in pitch meetings: “What’s your exit strategy?”
Kero wants to expand to support as many sports as possible and attract casual sports fans, which it believes can help grow the audience for sports betting and make it attractive to any number of acquirers.
Devenishek said there were many versions of the pitch deck, and that no two investors likely saw the same presentation. The full version, which was viewed by Insider, included 12 slides, several of which were removed by the company in the version published below because they user, revenue, client, and other sensitive information.
Here are the six key slides from the deck:
The deck opens with Kero Sports’ view on the future of sports betting.
Devenishek believes that sports-betting platforms will need to become a lot more engaging to win over the next generation of sports fans, who are used to fast-moving, easy-to-use platforms like TikTok.
The slide summarizes that thesis with the prediction that “today’s sports betting products will be rejected by the next generation.”
It’s meant to make sure the company and any potential investors are on the same page.
“Anyone who doesn’t believe this is likely not a potential investor in the company,” Devenishek said. “However, anyone that does believe this is going to not only enjoy the rest of the presentation but may also be excited about co-creating the future with us.”
It then sets up what the next-generation of sports betting products could look like.
This slide emphasizes features like in-game betting and social that Kero Sports thinks will be key to future sports betting platforms.
In-game betting is a big focus area for many of the US sportsbooks, but technology is still catching up with the opportunity. Companies including DraftKings have said they expect in-game betting to be the largest driver of online sports betting revenue long term, and that it could be even bigger in the US than it is in other gambling markets like Europe.
Sports-betting platforms also starting to incorporate more social features to keep users engaged in between bets.
Social “is the lubricant of all digital/mobile activity and is an absolute prerequisite for any successful app or platform,” Devenishek said.
Here’s how Kero Sports’ core product works.
Users can place bets on moments during a game, such as what hockey team will score at a given point, by swiping left or right to indicate their pick.
They can also comment on the action in the same screen view.
The deck illustrates how the product could improve the customer journey for sportsbooks.
While Kero Sports’ product today is free-to-play, this funnels shows how it could be of use to a range of potential clients including sportsbooks.
The free-to-play product targets casual sports fans, and aims to engage them while they’re watching a game. It can also offer sportsbook-related prizes like gaming credits.
The startup says it can help solve “pain points” across the sports ecosystem.
Most of Kero Sports’ clients today are professional sports teams, but the company thinks it can help remove friction across the sports industry, including among sportsbooks, networks, leagues, and teams.
Sports-betting platforms in particular are looking for ways to grow the pool of casual bettors, without increasing their already sky-high marketing costs.
“The expansion of the pie has to come from attracting new fans into the experience,” Devenishek said.
Kero Sports recently made key hires from OpenBet and other institutions.
The deck also includes an overview of Kero Sports’ key leadership.
Devenishek, the founder and CEO of Kero Sports, is a Canadian entrepreneur who’s now based in Miami, with a tech and marketing background. Before founding Kero Sports, he developed a smart contract on the blockchain that powered peer-to-peer wagers, and built a gamification experience for Coachella’s app while serving as the chief technology officer at Fanaply.
He recently hired as VP of revenue Tom Gray, who joined the startup from OpenBet and worked at Sportradar before that.
And the company’s chief data scientist, Rustin Domingos, is a PhD candidate who has built a predictive algorithm for NBA, MLB, and NHL game outcomes.