EIG 2015 – David Mills: Matchbook – Why incubators are the next big industry idea

David Mills Matchbook mLabs

Bigger companies and more competition across the market mean it’s a great time to be an innovator in the gaming industry, according to David Mills, head of Matchbook’s mLabs incubator.

Mills, who is also head of research for the betting exchange, was speaking ahead of Matchbok’s participation at next month’s EiG event in Berlin, where his colleague Derek Coetzee will be one of several industry veterans to offer one-to-one mentorship sessions to start-ups.

Matchbook will also be an interested observer of the Start-up Launchpad, which gives five hopefuls the chance to pitch their company to a panel of investors and a highly targeted audience of industry professionals. The Start-up Launchpad was first run in 2008, and the industry has changed dramatically in the past seven years, with technology, market trends and regulations all playing their part.

However, Mills noted the rise of established companies, such as Matchbook and William Hill, launching incubators in recent months, and suggested that the behemoths created by a flurry of mergers and acquisitions has led to a search for the next big thing through creativity.

“There have been a number of big acquisitions in the industry,” Mills told TotallyGaming.com. “This is leaving us with some very large players who now own a full suite of gaming products.

“The potential for growth for these companies through acquisition is getting more limited so they are looking more towards innovation. Start-up incubators bring new people and fresh ideas into the industry. The next killer app may come from one of these start-ups.”

mLabs has been launched with the aim of attracting new talent that Matchbook will handpick and mentor in the hope that it can develop and nurture ideas through to product launch.

Mills wants the incubator to help jump start new ventures and guide entrepreneurs through the process of getting a business up-and-running in the gambling sector.  However, he advised innovators to stay ahead of the game by focusing on new areas of development.

“We have seen over recent years the growth of mobile and in play,” Mills said. “We are seeing now the move to more devices and focus on an omni-channel experience.

“I expect that these trends will continue bringing a more personalised and real time gaming experience across all devices over the next number of years. We will be betting in-play on television while watching the game and getting personalised offers on our watches, for example.

“I also think that there will be more social gaming with more peer to peer interactions possibly making gaming more like the MMO experience.”

While innovators may enjoy their independence and concentrate on their creative ideas, Mills hopes that mLabs and other incubators can play a role in bringing good ideas to fruition.

“Established companies in the industry have resources at their disposal across many different functions including accounting, marketing, legal and technical” Mills said. “They also have a lot of contacts within the industry.

“A start-up will need more than a good idea and the ability to create it to become a successful company. Being part of an incubator program or having a good relationship with an established company can enable the start-up to gain support and guidance in areas that are not their main focus or interest.

“This can potentially fast track their success, bypassing many of the pitfalls that they may otherwise encounter without the support of someone who has done it before.”


David Mills – Head of Matchbook’s mLabs 


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