True to his disruptive personality, former Disney Channel star turned social media influencer and occasional boxer Jake Paul has joined forces with Florida entrepreneur Joey Levy to form Betr, a new company that hopes to shake up the online sportsbook industry by offering a unique micro-betting experience.
Betr co-founders Paul and Levy announced on Monday that they had raised $50 million in funding for their joint venture, which will enable the firm to hire new staff and begin a concerted marketing and promotional campaign aimed at younger generations of potential sports bettors.
"We view this as a $50-million war chest to get the company to profitability without having to raise more," Levy told Bloomberg News.
Levy, CEO of Betr, believes that the Miami-based company can take advantage of being a dedicated micro-betting operator despite competition from the major legal sportsbooks.
In a post on Medium, Levy argues DraftKings, a Simplebet client, may have launched micro-betting, but it has positioned "micro-betting as a feature within a supermarket of legacy sports betting products vs as the core experience.”
Adds Levy: "If we are to believe that micro-betting will be the predominant way people bet on sports in the U.S., then someone should launch the world’s first micro-betting focused app. This is why we are starting Betr.”
A Betr way to bet?
The company is hoping to capitalize on Paul's status as a leading Gen Z influencer who currently has more than 70 million followers across social media. Paul will be running the media arm of Betr, which will reach out to younger sports audiences and potential bettors through social media programming.
"I wasn’t into sports betting until I was introduced to micro-betting," Paul said in a press release. "Micro-betting is the TikTok-ification of sports betting and I am excited to bring it to the masses through Betr. We are in this for the long haul and are focused on doing things the right way.
"We are getting licensed state-by-state, adhering to each state's regulatory framework while advocating for important consumer protections and responsible gambling. We want to be the category defining consumer company in both sports betting and sports media by the end of the decade and are confident we will achieve that goal."
He added in a separate interview with Bloomberg: "They were paying me millions to promote their sportsbooks for my fights. They need the influencers. Now it’s our turn to take over from the dinosaurs."
Levy's success with Simplebet was the driving force behind Betr's ability to raise $50 million in start-up capital from a wide array of investment groups led by Florida Funders, which invested an initial tranche of $5 million in the first funding round of $30 million that was heavily oversubscribed. This led to a second funding round that raised an additional $20 million.
Betr's backers include 8vc, Aliya Capital Partners, Fuel Venture Capital, FinSight Ventures, the co-owners of the San Francisco 49ers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Marlins, as well as sports celebrities Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Richard Sherman, and Desean Jackson.
For starters, Betr beta
The focus of Betr is micro-betting, a niche component of online sports betting that allows users of its mobile app to place instant in-game bets on anything from the next pitch in an MLB game to the next play in an NFL game.
The app will be released in beta format later this month and is expected to launch later this fall as a free-to-play experience in all 50 states before becoming available for bettors in states where mobile wagering has been legalized.
"Betr has secured market access in multiple U.S. states through strategic equity-based partnerships that the company will be announcing in the near future," Monday's press release stated.
Co-founder of the gambling technology company Simplebet, Levy says that Betr will be relying on Simplebet’s tech in the process of establishing Betr as a go-to app for younger generations of sports bettors.
"We view free-to-play as more of an interactive tutorial or glimpse into the future of fan engagement and sports betting and micro-betting," Levy told Axios. "And that ultimately [will serve as] a registration, onboarding tool and conversion funnel to our real-money betting experiences."
Betr will also be establishing a parallel media unit that hopes to become the primary platform for the up-and-coming generation of sports fans. The first step in this process is the launch of a weekly podcast hosted by Paul.
Called "BS With Jake Paul," the show expects to drive traffic to Betr. Described in the company's official press release as "the most disruptive athlete-influencer in sports and one of the most famous Gen-Z personalities in the world," Paul is being positioned as something like a younger, rowdier alternative to Pat McAfee, whose Monday-to-Friday YouTube podcast reportedly earned the former Indianapolis Colts punter a $120-million sponsorship deal with FanDuel.
Saxon Baum, head of investor relations for Florida Funders, a principal backer of Betr, believes that Paul will be able to attract Gen-Z, Gen-Y, and millennial bettors.
"Our goal, and the Betr goal, is for this to be one of the largest consumer products ever to come out of the state of Florida, and that’s what we’re excited about," Baum told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re hoping that in a few years it’s DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Betr."