In this interview, Dmitry Sergeev, CEO of Parimatch CIS discusses how his career in betting developed and what his plans for the future are
Most interviews with top executives from major companies are aimed at discussing current market news and industry realities. Undoubtedly, it is more intriguing to find out about people who have achieved such outstanding successes in their careers. Thus, this interview with Dmitry Sergeev (CEO of Parimatch CIS) will be more interesting for those seeking to know the stories behind successful people.
We talked about how his career in betting has developed, how Dmitry spends his free time, what his professional dream is, and a bit about his plans for the future. Additionally, Dimitry has given some important tips for managers who are just starting their career in betting. Read more below!
This interview was prepared with the support of RevenueLab.biz.
How did you come into the betting industry? Where did your professional journey begin?
I was actively playing on Betfair and Bet365 in the early 10s.` Also, at that time, I was still involved in Russia’s biggest sports media, so I was fully immersed in the sports market.
My first experience in the betting business was a white label solution from EveryMatrix, Kontorabet.com. It didn’t work out very well, so I paid my first dues with this project.
Later, we started working on a project with our software suppliers, which was supposed to be called iStavka. We had almost reached an agreement and were about to launch, but at some point, the company that supplied us with the software suddenly sold out to Betsson, and were off the grid. However, I didn’t stop and moved on.
In 2014, it became known that betting had been legalised in Russia. We immediately began negotiating with Western companies which we could bring to the Russian market. The final choice was between Bwin and Betfair, and we settled on the former. Having obtained a licence in Russia, we launched the project Bwin.ru. At that time, it was my most serious experience connected with the betting business.
In addition to that, I was involved in various affiliate resources, which were set up to see how traffic worked and converted. I remember, for example, how we gave a strong boost to Winline when it was just starting. We gave them very decent FTD volumes – tens of thousands.
Later, I left Rambler and received an invitation from Parimatch to become the CEO of the Russian region.
Is it correct that you are now also the head of Parimatch CIS?
Yes, a year ago, I received an offer to head Parimatch in all the CIS countries.
What was the focus of your company development when you joined Parimatch in 2019?
On product conversion, for sure. Primarily, we focused on the marketing funnel: from registration to first, second and third deposits, retention activities. Having built the right funnel, we began to strengthen brand awareness, sign sponsorship contracts, and deal with media placements. In the end, the right structure that attracted and retained users and the growing strength of the brand worked properly.
Has the growth and development of Parimatch been affected by the pandemic?
The pandemic has hurt the entire market. However, due to the significant growth after the pandemic, we concluded that we could override all of its negative impacts during the lockdown.
However, I know that those brands that had an adult and conservative audience lost a lot. On the other hand, we focus on a younger audience that pays more attention to the same cybersport, so we have avoided any losses.
Frankly speaking, everyone, of course, lived for the football championship in Belarus. At that time, it was the only championship that was broadcasted on television. The excitement was huge. I heard stories that people were selling football club sponsorship contracts right in the stadiums. We have been working in Belarus for quite a long time, cooperating with many clubs, so our visibility during the championship was very high.
What advice would you give to those who just start working in the betting business?
My main recommendation is to love team sports. I mean, football and, to a lesser extent, hockey. For example, if you are a fan of a particular club, you will adapt more quickly to the industry.
Suppose there is a European cup final coming up. This means that there will soon be an increase in search queries related to this topic. More specifically, people wonder what club A and club B are, who plays for one club and who plays for the other.
Hence, there is an increase in SEO queries, which entails increasing traffic to media sports resources, an increase in contextual ad impressions, etc.
If you know all of this stuff, you will understand how this huge industry works. It will become clear how things work in betting and why, which means you will monetise your knowledge intelligently.
Moreover, if you want to succeed in this business but do not consider yourself a fan, you urgently need to become one. You have to choose your favorite club, go to the tournaments, root for it and try to understand everything that happens in the world of sport.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I do work. When there is no work, I find it. It is not that common, though, but I spend it with my family to have some free time. I try to go to sports events as a spectator from time to time, but it’s pretty rare. Work takes up all my free time.
How do you structure your working day? Do you have long-term plans?
For me, there are no plans for the day or the week. If we talk about any strategic decisions, it is always a plan for 1-2 years ahead. For example, my tactics depend directly on what’s going on around me, and if necessary, I change it depending on the situation.
Describe your ideal scenario for Parimatch over the next three years.
I strongly believe that Parimatch will be in the top 3 bookmakers in 2023 in Russia. That’s my prediction, but it’s worth admitting that the competition is really strong. Some have a stronger brand, devote more time to the product, others to the funnel and tracking.
We used to think, ‘Bet365 is going to beat everyone just because it’s Bet365’.
Now we see that Bet365 has had no impact on the market yet. It is impossible to build a perfect bookmaker as the audience preference is very different. It was the same with Bwin when we thought we would be the leader due to the brand’s strength. It turned out we weren’t.
Regional presence is very important for a bookmaker. For example, if Betway, one of the largest B2C operators in Europe, were to come to Russia now, it probably wouldn’t have succeeded either.
Tell us about your professional dream.
I would love to end my betting career and manage a football club one day. You know, a teenage dream and hundreds, thousands of hours of my life spent in football simulator games make itself felt.
But that’s all probably a little later. I’d be interested in doing it when the game rules change when everything starts to be built solely on the clubs’ revenues through strong marketing and branding. That’s the kind of market I want to play in. Our market is going in the right direction, but it is not ready for that yet.
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