Industry Insider: Tomash Devenishek, Founder and CEO, Kero Sports
In this month’s edition of the Industry Insider, we spoke with Tomash Devenishek, Founder and CEO of Kero Sports, about his background, what makes his company unique, and how to solve challenges in the gaming space as a newcomer, and more.
You’re a newcomer to the gaming space, with extensive experience in other areas. Can you tell us more about your career path and why you were drawn to the gaming industry?
I was lucky to have been at the forefront of a few emerging technologies having built consumer products in the early days of their respective growth stages. Some examples include building large-scale social apps in the mid-2010s, blockchain platforms in 2017, and gamification experiences most recently prior to Kero. This journey helped me see the opportunity in sports betting because I was looking at it, not as an insider who typically seeks to optimize what’s already there, but through a consumer-focused lens that asks the question: what would users want in 5 years’ time, given everything else that is happening in their digital lives?
What drew me in was an opportunity to create more mainstream sports betting experiences with much higher entertainment value. Our thesis is that unlocking real money betting on sports as a mass-market product is the biggest opportunity and challenge for the industry. I saw that most sportsbook products were complicated spreadsheets that appeal only to “expert” users. It’s the opposite of what mainstream apps do to gain adoption. My mission became to build an instant gratification experience where people can bet in real-time on what is happening in the game right now, socialize with others while betting, and do all of it without having to think too much. The underpinning technology for that became an algorithmic curation of live micro-bets which is not dissimilar from how algorithms on platforms like TikTok underpin their success.
Kero Sports is a new sports betting technology offering in-game and quick betting opportunities during live matches. What makes Kero Sports unique and stand out amongst the competition?
We’re a white label platform that enables any sportsbook to add a social, casino-like mode for live betting where users are presented with contextual micro-bets in real-time every 30-60 seconds that resolve within minutes. It’s literally like a slot machine for sports betting, and we make the experience social because that’s the lubricant of all modern digital experiences.
What I think makes us unique is we took the time to productize this technology as a free-to-play experience within the apps of teams across every major league as well as colleges. This enabled some incredible learning about how the algorithms need to work to create an immersive and sticky experience and also gathered very valuable behavioral data. We have trained our tech on millions of bets from hundreds of thousands of unique fans which is key. We’re not just offering something that was built blindly in a room full of smart people, but something that smart people iterated on, and battle tested over two years with the intended audience—the casual sports fan.
As new states and provinces go live, how will the legal sports betting market growth impact your company and what challenges do you anticipate facing?
The wave of legalization has had both negative and positive effects on our efforts. The negative effect was short lasting in that it was forcing operators to be in “launch mode”, a lot which is a state where no one is looking to innovate but rather just getting to market as fast as possible with what they already have.
This, however, compounded into an incredible net-positive because now the key next step is differentiation, especially around the product. As operators start to become a lot more introspective and look at how well their products retain/monetize current customers and help grow market share, our offering becomes a perfect solution. I’ve used the term “casino-like mode for sportsbook” earlier and this is what’s attracting new clients for us today. Everyone knows that it is not only a great monetization tool but also a great solution for catering to less-savvy users who may be too intimidated by traditional sportsbook products.
We’re super excited about new states and provinces going live because we almost always end up in discussions with operators who launch there like Ontario, New York, and others. The other eye-opening realization of late has been the appetite in international markets, both mature ones like Europe and emerging ones like Africa and LATAM. Ultimately as I mentioned before, we’re building something very consumer-centric that has tremendous industry implications, a sportsbook 2.0 if you will. Luckily almost everyone in the industry recognizes this and so we’ve been very busy closing deals and working on platform integrations all over the world.
You bring a fresh perspective to the industry with your background. In your eyes, what are some of the biggest challenges new companies are facing when trying to break into this incredibly competitive market and what advice would you give them?
I think the biggest challenge is around the notion that you can’t just reinvent the wheel in this space which is usually the mindset of every entrepreneur. Many lessons in general tech don’t apply to the gaming world because a lot of smart people have spent decades figuring out what works and what doesn’t, so coming in with something new can’t necessarily replace the old, ideally it needs to compliment it. A good example would be what Uber did for personal transportation can’t be applied in the industry because it’s highly regulated. Just because you can envision the technology doesn’t mean it can work. Things like risk management, internal processes at sportsbooks, how procurement works, and which stakeholders need to align were all important lessons. We were lucky to have industry investors that were very helpful along this part of the journey. Some well-deserved shoutouts include Benjie Cherniak, Lloyd Danzig, Chris Grove, and many others.
So my advice to newcomers into the space would be to learn about the law of the land before diving in and finding small wedges that you can inject your ideas in to crack open a wide gap of opportunity.
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is where the global gaming industry comes together to discover, connect, and explore. What new trends and technologies are you most looking for at G2E 2022?
Ever since I started, no other industry event has been mentioned to me more than G2E. It’s definitely the place to be for any new and existing industry folks and no better location than Las Vegas to host it.
As a vendor, our team primarily looks to G2E as an opportunity to connect with operators and potential partners. There are also so many adjacent opportunities that always evolve from the event like meeting prospective investors or learning about new approaches in parallel verticals like esports which isn’t something we are focused on today but are keeping a close eye on and seeing some very innovative tech built there.
Interesting in attending G2E 2022? Register here today.