William Armitage, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of BestOdds, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
William Armitage speaks about BestOdds, start-ups, and the importance of having a strong team, among other topics – follow his story below
When and why did you start considering affiliate business as a career and how did BestOdds take off?
You could say that I fell into the affiliate business quite by accident. I spent over a decade in the online trading space at IG and then moved into the investment world. It was during a chance conversation with the other co-founder that we learnt that the domain BestOdds was available. I was surprised that no one had yet taken possession of such a prestigious and potentially powerful URL. With the US sports betting market in its infancy, we felt that it was a great opportunity to be a long-term player in that market with a brand that is part of the vernacular of bettors all over the world.
BestOdds is a start-up. How important are the power of perseverance and the willingness to sacrifice when running a start-up?
As an experienced angel investor, I know all too well the need for start-up founders to be agile, show great perseverance, and not be afraid of failure or pivoting! The ability to listen and be empathetic with your target audience is also a key attribute I look in any entrepreneur. My co-founder and I certainly try to adhere to these themes above. Growing a business is never easy and one can always expect to hit roadblocks along the way. It is how you react and cope with such hiccoughs that dictate where the business will end up. In terms of sacrifice, how often do you meet a start-up founder who works a standard 5-day a week, 9-5 job?! It simply doesn’t happen! Any founder, especially those with kids, can attest to the fact that sacrifices are part and parcel of start-up life!
What do you consider as success and how do you measure it at BestOdds?
Much like any affiliate or indeed internet-orientated businesses, success for BestOdds for me is measured on two levels. The first aspect is around the data; whether on engagements, clicks, conversions, FTDs, visitors, revenues, brand awareness, and such like. The second and less obvious aspect of success, yet equally important and relevant, is the team you build. In order to scale any business, you need to have a talented, hard-working, collective of individuals who pull together and dovetail. This essence of team is vital for any business to achieve success.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
At the moment, we are very much focused on the opportunity in the USA. Given the relevancy of our domain, www.bestodds.com, we have traffic from all over the world. However, in terms of concerted effort and current strategy it is the US market that excites us most. In the coming years, we shall probably establish offices in the UK and Australia. Emerging markets are clearly of interest to us and resources will be targeted towards their direction in the future. However, current energy and spend is targeting the American market.
How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
We are lucky to work with a wide variety of operators, ranging from some of the very biggest in the business to the smaller, more innovative players. As a bettor myself who has used high street bookies, betting exchanges, betting apps, and odds comparison grids regularly since I was of legal age or since they came into existence, I know what is important to our partners’ clients. If there is a brand with which I would not like to bet as a retail punter, we would not look to partner with them. The operators have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are excellent at reporting, yet take ages to pay you; and vice versa. No two operators are the same! In terms of managing the relationships with an eclectic group of partners, you need an efficient and well-connected affiliate management team!
What is your ambition for BestOdds?
We have a clear long-term vision for BestOdds. That is to be a globally recognised and geographically diversified brand which is well-reputed and known for being a great resource for bettors of all experiences from all over the world. It is a lofty ambition, but one which we are striving to achieve; firstly, in the US, then in other international markets in the 2020s.
Do you think that competition in affiliation is important? Why?
Competition is important in any industry, let alone the affiliate sphere. Without it, a monopolistic environment ensues and that helps no one, least of all the final customer. Choice is important for any consumer. That is why competition is valuable in the affiliate space and should be positively received.
Which emerging technologies like AI and Big Data will impact the affiliate industry in 2023 and beyond?
In the affiliate space, much is bandied around AI. There are many companies using what purports to be AI in order to generate a greater breadth of content. The majority of such output does not actually utilise what is defined by AI, but that doesn’t stop businesses from producing it. I see a further expansion of its use in 2023 and also a greater sense of user journey personalisation.
Above, I cited that complacency can occur when competition doesn’t exist. I think there are a lot of talented companies with some very sharp minds in this industry. There are aspects where the betting and iGaming affiliate space is behind the times compared to many other industries. The major players have had a reliable playbook of success and have been reluctant to innovate too much. I foresee more effort to be made to innovate and put the interests of the consumer more to the fore. Big data and segmentations will become more of a theme this year.
How was your 300 Spartans’ experience?
It was my first time as one of the 300 Spartans. I think it is a great concept. But what impressed me more was the range of events, activities, and opportunities to meet other Spartans. I look forward to returning to Malta for the next conference for what I’m sure will be an even better event.
Are you a regular attendee at the SiGMA events? SiGMA Americas, Asia, Balkans/CIS, Eurasia, Europe – which of these expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2023?
SiGMA Europe 2022 was my debut event! It was excellent and well worthwhile. I shall certainly look to attend other such events when we start to expand our target markets from being so US-focused.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into gaming yourself, etc.
- Hobbies – Football (watching, rather than playing now!), tennis, and horse-racing
- Favourite 3 books – The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.
- Favourite 3 films – Shawshank Redemption, The Third Man, and Triangle of Sadness
- Favourite saying – “Be Yourself!”
- Biggest win – Cape Velvet (May 2010) – Won at 23/1
- Heaviest loss – King of Stars (Jul 2022) – Came last!
- Best financial trade – Dow Options Expiry (Dec 2017)
- Worst financial trade – Cotton (Jun 2006) – Market dropped 15% in a matter of minutes less than an hour after I had bought it!