Team SBC begins its first ever leader profile by interviewing Colossus Bets Founder and CEO Bernard Marantelli. By bringing innovation through lottery sized betting pools, combined with a fractional cash-in, Colossus Bets has become sports betting’s leading start-up winning the 2014 EGR Operator Rising Star Award
Marantelli gives personal insight with regards to his background and working experiences and how they have helped him run a start-up in the sports betting market.
SBC: Hi Bernard thanks for letting SBC profile you. You were a successful professional gambler with a proven winning track record. What prompted you to change sides and work within betting operations?
BM: I had been a player of exchanges and totes for many years but I thought that totes in particular could be significantly improved. I approached a couple of the incumbent operators with some of my ideas but it was clear to me that if I wanted to offer what I considered to be a better pools betting proposition, I would have to do it myself. That is how Colossus Bets came into existence.
SBC: With your background, do you view yourself as an outsider to online sports betting, and is this a positive factor for you as a business leader in the sector?
BM: I don’t really view myself as an outsider as I come from a bookmaking family and have been a punter most of my life. I have never worked for a conventional betting operator however and my ideas as to how things should work in the world of modern online betting are largely taken from the perspective of the player, which is perhaps an advantage. My senior management team is largely made up of people with extensive experience in the sector, so I think we have a good balance in place.
SBC: You started working in investment banking and private equity, what knowledge and competencies did this background form when creating your own start-up?
BM: Working in the City was useful in terms of further developing my risk management skills and gaining a better understanding of how people view and take risk decisions. Apart from being required to perform under pressure though, I don’t think that an investment bank is the obvious breeding ground for creating a start-up.
SBC: Running start-up Colossus Bets what market intricacies, factors and developments have surprised you with regards to online sports betting?
BM: I have been a little bit surprised as to how a combination of risk aversion, the bureaucracy inherent in big firms and legacy technology systems combine to make change and innovation in the sector hard to achieve. The market leaders don’t need to take any chances because they are doing well under the status quo and the next tier of operators spend their time trying to emulate what those market leaders are doing. This results in a largely homogeneous product offering, with innovation from incumbents extremely rare.
SBC: Your Company is expanding and recruitment and selection are a critical factor. What traits and characteristics do you look for in employees that will help take Colossus to the next level?
BM: I think a genuine interest and curiosity in our product is essential – I am often surprised at how little background research some candidates have done. I also want to hire people who are hungry to learn and progress. I’ll always favour someone whose attitude impresses me, over someone who looks stronger on paper but who doesn’t show the same desire.
SBC: What factors need to be prioritised or changed in order for sports betting and igaming to be more innovation led?
BM: The management of market leaders have comparatively little to gain personally, by taking chances with new or innovative ideas, so they don’t! Remuneration structures would need to change significantly to change their conservative approach. Perhaps the middle tier of companies would be better off trying to do things differently rather than merely replicating what the market leaders are doing. In reality however it is the new entrants who are far more likely to provide real innovation as their best chance of success is to avoid the temptation of copying what the incumbents are doing
Bernard Marantelli – Founder & CEO – Colossus Bets