Team SBC catches up with Peter Gough, Founder of Fenway Games, an igaming industry start-up which has recently gone live on the GamCrowd.com equity crowdfunding platform.
Fenway Games.is a developer of real-time, mobile and social products that operate during live sporting events and offer a high turnover of wagering opportunities. Its flagship title, SwitchPlayed, allows small-stakes bets to be placed in-play, to predict what will happen next in a football match, from a shot, goal, red or yellow card, foul, save, offside or penalty. Players can compete in league tables, achieve bragging rights, chat live over social media and win extra credits based on performance.
Team SBC discuss market challenges and conditions facing Fenway Games and its development. Peter Gough further describes why he choose GamCrowd crowdfunding services to raise capital for his enterprise.
SBC: Hi Peter, pleasure to interview you. Can you give SBC readers more insight into the Fenway Games products and services? What new engagement mechanisms do they bring to the sports betting market?
Peter: The underlying theme of our products, of which SwitchPlayed is the flagship title, is that we aim to place a game layer over the emotions which fans experience as part of the viewing experience. That includes such themes as what happens next, who will be picked, and so on. We are not trying to force a game into another format.
Fenway Games offers instant, real-time gaming – win in the next minute, not next week or at the end of the season. Our products are all mobile oriented, built with the device in mind, and all about in-play.
We have a clear vision that we want to respond to the conversation. We actually have games in the pipeline that are based on twitter chatter.
SBC: Your product fuses betting and social engagement dynamics together, this is no easy feat. How has Fenway Games approached development of its products as a start-up?
Peter: Fenway Games appeals to both a b2b and b2c audience. We have developed the product along those lines and brought in David Sargeant from iGaming Ideas and Mick Robins, formerly of News International, to help us exploit the potential as they have invaluable experience in the respective areas.
We understand and have respect for social networks. Some of the so-called ‘social’ products you see are not very natural. They are trying to apply the concept to social. With us, the games are born in the social environment. They have a different delivery mechanism. They allow people to log on with ease, they have a true competition element and facilitate the comparison of achievements – and earning of bragging rights.
SBC: We have seen numerous enterprises and established operators fail in their attempts to bridge the social and sports betting engagement. Why do you feel this has happened?
Peter: It’s fair to say that results have been mixed, but social is still a very young product – and an industry as a whole – certainly compared to sports betting. And look at the use of social in other business sectors – people are still finding out what works and what doesn’t.
However, from our initial beta test audiences, we feel very confident that we have created an enjoyable experience. We are adopting a lean and agile approach to ensure we can learn from each iteration and further enhance the product.
At Fenway Games the user experience is placed firmly at the centre of all decision making and there are four key areas that our titles focus on:
- Commitment: users do not want to be tied into a game for months on end. This can be seen from the progression of fantasy sports.
- Speed: likewise, sports betting has moved from season long to day games. Players want results in the next minute in order to move onto their next bet.
- Timing: it is vital that players can play when he or she wants to, not when we say. There can be no waiting for a room to be full, or an event to occur. Join, play, go. That’s our mantra.
- Usability: the user journey is king. From logging on, to navigating through games to the look and feel of the applications is of vital importance to us. Keeping the required actions to a minimum is key.
SBC: Do you feel that sports betting operators are engaging correctly with new socially led consumers? What should the industry look to improve when engaging with these customers?
Peter: Personally, I’ve always played these sorts of games but they often couldn’t engage me to the extent that I wanted.
Social used to be a bit forced. For instance, a betting customer does not want their social network to see that they have placed a bet, while a social player wants to be careful not to spam their friends with their activity. Each game and brand has a personality and that needs to be reflected on social network interactions.
SBC: You are in the process of raising venture funds via the GamCrowd crowdfunding platform. What key competencies and start-up criteria do you want Fenway Games to display to potential investors?
Peter: Firstly, we have a very strong team in place; Mick from a social gaming perspective and David from the real money gambling marketplace. Secondly, we have developed a fantastic beta product, which has been well received from a wide audience that includes, industry experts, media and focus groups.
Finally, we have an absolute desire to make a mark and offer something different to what is currently on offer. We are determined to become a household brand in this space with an array of game titles for pre-match, in play and post-game.
GamCrowd provides us with the perfect opportunity to target knowledgeable investors. The service offered is far more than the platform itself. As a start-up in its early stages, it allows us to directly engage a community that is of huge potential benefit.
Other, more generic crowdfunding platforms and methods of raising money exist. However, the advice, consultancy, contacts, introductions and network effect that exist when you raise money on a platform that specialises in your respective vertical market is incredibly valuable.
Furthermore, the process itself of getting listed on GamCrowd has helped us become a far more attractive proposition. There are a series of stages that we have had to go through to demonstrate our viability that give Fenway Games a distinct advantage we wouldn’t have had if we were trying to do this alone.
SBC: How do you see your products evolving and developing in the coming months? What should we expect from Fenway Games?
Peter: We have a clear business plan. Bringing in investment will enable us to expand in a number of ways. We will be able to move into more territories across Europe, into Asia and beyond. Talks are ongoing with a number of potential new b2b and media partners which we will advance further and take SwitchPlayed onto more platforms, starting with iOS and moving onto Android, mobile web.
The next phase of expansion is into more sports – cricket and basketball, for instance, have potentially massive user bases for our games – and we will also be able to develop and bring to market a wide range of products.
Peter Gough, Founder of Fenway Games
Find Fenway Games on GamCrowd
GamCrowd.com is the first and only a gambling-specific crowdfunding platform. It showcases a range of companies offering investment opportunities in return for equity. GamCrowd connects sophisticated investors and high net worth individuals with pre-screened start-ups that have completed a rigorous process in order to be certified as ‘GamCrowd fit’. In addition to crowdfunding, GamCrowd will soon be launching a crowdsourcing platform that aims to create a global marketplace where buyers can obtain services, ideas and content for a pre-determined price from a group of skilled, professional suppliers on a per-task basis.