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Following their participation on the Hot 6 panel at the NEXT Summit New York City earlier this year, WagerWire co-founders Zach Doctor and Travis Geiger caught up with NEXT.io editor Conor Mulheir, to discuss their participation in the panel.

Doctor and Geiger are also attending the NEXT Summit Valletta, where a new set of start-ups will take their seats for the latest Hot 6 on the conference’s Leadership Stage, Wednesday 15 May at 3:15 PM.

NEXT: Why do you think WagerWire was selected to take part in this year’s Hot 6 panel?

ZD: We were really honoured to get the nod and be invited to participate. The opportunity came through Jesse Learmonth, from the Betting Startups podcast, who kind of threw our hats in the ring.

But we’ve built a good relationship with NEXT.io over the past couple years, and the Hot 6 had been such a storied panel in the past, like last year, it had Betr and SimpleBet and Jackpocket. So obviously, we jumped at the opportunity. 

We’re just really happy to have WagerWire in the mix with such impressive names like those.

NEXT: What was it about your product that piqued the interest of the judges?

ZD: I do think we obviously have a lot of good momentum right now, but I think maybe what sets us apart or makes us unique is that in sports betting and fantasy sports, people are always looking for the next big innovation. 

You know, you had SimpleBet doing microbetting, and some other suppliers around the edges, for example adding same game parlays or some social features to the sportsbook experience, but the question is what’s going to be the next chapter and the new evolution in sports betting.

We think secondary markets really are going to be that – you already see it on social media, kind of dominating the conversation around betting or gambling on Twitter for example. Like people have these wild bets on March Madness, for example, where they placed a parlay early in the year at $100, to win $40,000. 

And now all they need is UConn to win it all – and that really gets the conversation going, so all the focus on social media is around that. 

Secondary markets take that whole experience to the next level, where now people could actually bid on those tickets, so it’s not just considering whether to take the cash out, instead it becomes an interactive experience. I think the industry is now waking up to this being one of the next waves of innovation coming through here.

NEXT: Zach, you had the responsibility of representing WagerWire on the Hot 6. How did you prepare for the panel?

ZD: Luckily we already knew or had met all of the judges before the session, so we actually did a fun thought exercise the night before, trying to guess exactly which questions each person was going to ask, and we got pretty close! 

Questions around TAM and the size of the industry, how our product compares to cash out, things like that are very common questions we get a lot at investor pitches. But the Hot 6 is a different opportunity – it’s an opportunity not just to answer these questions on a Zoom call, but to answer them in front of a couple of hundred really powerful people in the industry. 

So, I obviously took it very seriously and prepared a lot, making sure I had my talking points heading in. I don’t think public speaking ever really gets any easier – even if you’ve done it a few times, you still get the nerves and everything. I was also the last speaker, so I was backstage with the tension building during the whole session.

NEXT: Each participant gets just 10 minutes to answer the judges’ questions. Was it difficult to get your key points across in such a short space of time?

ZD: I would say that’s probably the toughest thing, because when you’re on an investor pitch on Zoom, you’ve usually got around 30 or 45 minutes, so you can really dig into everything. 

And also because in the Hot 6, we’re kind of playing to both the investor audience but also to the sportsbook audience. Like we’re a B2B company, and we’re trying to close partnerships with the operators so that we can be their secondary market partner. 

So even though I’m answering questions from investors, I’m trying to put it through the lens of why a sportsbook would want to do this at the end of the day. And then, once they decide they want to integrate secondary markets, why they should pick WagerWire and not somebody else.

NEXT: Travis, have you noticed a positive impact on the business since participating in the Hot 6?

TG: I think there’s been a slight uptick in attention because people are realising that this will exist and it should exist, and I think the inevitability is hitting people over the head in a new way. 

When we first started out, the main pushback we got was that this doesn’t exist in Europe, and I used to say that if America did everything like Europe, we’d still have a queen here. 

But we don’t, so things are going to be a little different. They’re going to be a little bit more chaotic, a little rowdier. People are going to demand different things from their companies, their brands, their products. 

NEXT: Why do you think your product was a perfect fit for Hot 6?

TG: What we’re offering is I think an inevitability of capitalism in any developing market – a secondary market, a way to sell your assets to profit off of something you’ve invested in. And I think the pressure now is actually back on the sportsbooks, not on us. It used to be on us to close them, and now it’s on them to do something different.

This is huge, because America is also home to a bunch of new bettors – that’s the other contingent, who thinks ‘why am I going to jump into something that I could even perceive as being rigged, or where the house is always going to win without a way out? Why am I going to put $100 into this app when I feel like it’s just going to disappear?’ With WagerWire, you have that downside protection.

Finally, you can’t buy your way onto the Hot 6 the way you can buy your way onto some panels – there’s an integrity and a pedigree to it. So to be invited to be a part of that is a big deal, and it’s very different than just sitting up there with a microphone in another circumstance.

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