Sports betting is illegal in the vast majority of the U.S. However, that did not stop Daniel Fabrizio from following his passion and creating a company that earns money from bettors seeking to gain an edge over the house.
In the late 1990s, Fabrizio built Sports Insights, a sports betting analytics platform aimed at making sports bettors more intelligent by providing insights concerning the odds and spreads of match-ups. Decades later, the company has a wealth of data to compare and millions of dollars in revenue.
Why It Sometimes Makes Sense to Take the Path Less Traveled
People were just getting acquainted with the internet when Fabrizio founded Sports Insights. He looked around and realized that there was a lack of information to help individuals make decisions concerning sports betting, which occurs throughout the world whether it is legal or illegal in respective jurisdictions.
"Back then, you couldn't even open a paper and see an opening line or closing line," explains Fabrizio. "I started tracking weather reports, injury reports, and what makes the lines move."
Taking the path less traveled sometimes must begin as a hobby, since it will not immediately yield financial results. That was certainly the case for Fabrizio, until he realized that Sports Insights was something he could do full-time. He made that choice roughly a decade ago, when he finally realized his hobby had turned into a real opportunity.
Pricing Is Important in a Niche Market
While Sports Insights provides some content free of charge, it makes money by selling membership subscriptions that provide tools like real-time odds, betting percentages, and best bet picks. The service is not cheap. At $250 per month, the user needs to be more active than the average bettor, seeking high-end information and tools.
Fabrizio acknowledges that his price point is high, especially when portals such as ESPN and CBS are providing betting-related information for free. Yet the latter entities do not perform nearly the type of deep dive that Sports Insights does, which is why the service has attracted attention from the sports betting industry.
"We love the idea of servicing more sophisticated bettors and believe that Sports Insight adds significant value to the marketplace," says Ron Zlluf, marketing director at 10bet.
Good Talent Is Hard to Find
Believe it or not, the company's largest challenge is attracting talent. People are genuinely turned off by the idea of sports betting, which has made it difficult for Sports Insights to grow with talented employees even though the company is willing to pay out six-figure salaries.
"We know the market's there, but once you start talking sports betting, most people get turned off by it based on the stigma attached to it," says Fabrizio.
Sports Insights has been an attendee at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference for the past five-to-six years. The company has promoted job opportunities for the past two-to-three years and received four résumés.
According to Fabrizio, the NBA's Boston Celtics do not even announce an opening and still receive 1,000 résumés.
"People don't quite understand what we do and provide us a negative stigma because they believe we are doing something not technical," adds Fabrizio. "That couldn't be further from the truth."
How Do You Grow a Niche Platform?
The company's revenue has remained solid over the past few years, but it seems to be getting to the point where it may have plateaued. This can be a common problem for the entrepreneur.
"How do we leverage what we're already doing for something else?" asks Fabrizio rhetorically. "We are looking for more data analysis and tools to do that. We've been collecting data for over 10 years--sports betting specific data about the market, line moves. It is very proprietary."
The service is splendid. People who do not know much about spreadsheets can press a few buttons and find out how teams do when they play games on back-to-back days, and much more.
"What's most frustrating is that we have a very attractive business and it's tough for people to recognize it," says Fabrizio.
That's why there is no stopping for the hardcore entrepreneur. It is on to building the next best feature for Fabrizio and his team.