Bet2Go: Marcel Puyk

The UK’s first interface between mobile phone operators, bookmakers and casinos

Mobile has long been touted as the next frontier for search, but speak to someone who knows the industry and they’ll tell you there’s still a long way to go.

“Mobile search is patchy and the user experience is quite bad,” says Marcel Puyk, chief executive of Bet2Go, the UK’s leading mobile phone sports betting service. “Search isn’t yet mobile optimised, so a lot of the content is irrelevant. Companies are realising they need to develop a different page for the mobile phone than they would for the computer, but there’s still a lot of rubbish in the top hits. Someone will get it right eventually.”

And when they do, Puyk’s company will be poised to grab an even bigger slice of a market that analyst house Jupiter Research estimates will be worth $12bn by 2010. As it stands, Bet2Go has established a sound and ingenious business model that sees it sitting halfway between mobile operators and bookmakers.

“We deal with both sides of the supply chain,” Puyk explains. “We bring bookmakers and casino companies into the mobile market, while also dealing with mobile operators that want access to that content, but lack the knowledge, experience or even staff to secure it.”

Founded in 2001 by Eithan Ephrati, Bet2Go has had long enough to establish a lead in this nascent market, so considerable barriers to entry at this stage can only be an advantage. As in the early days of the internet, those looking to make a buck have major obstacles to surmount, including the heterogeneous nature of the technology. “You can develop an application, but it’s very hard to get it onto a range of handsets,” says Puyk.

Instead of working to make a product for one platform, as you would on a PC, you have to develop the skills to be able to provide for thousands of different handsets. Bet2Go’s user-friendly interface enables people to receive real-time information and odds from the UK’s six most popular bookmakers – including Sporting Odds, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Total Bet, Blue Square, and Victor Chandler – and bet anywhere, anytime using the same tool.

“It’s very easy – you can do it while you’re sitting on the train and place the bet there and then, with a choice of six prices,” Puyk explains. “Compared to physically going to the bookies and having no choice on price, that’s a powerful option. It’s simple and discreet.”

From its Camden base, venture-capital backed Bet2Go has been doubling its turnover year-on-year and is looking at triple growth in 2008 from what Puyk concedes was a “fairly small base”. “We have a solid business model and we’re in a very strong position in the UK market,” he says. “The whole dynamics of the mobile market will experience explosive growth and we’ll be expanding rapidly and internationally.”

With forecasts that the market will have grown 10 times in just five years, Puyk’s optimism is understandable. “We saw the opportunity first and we took advantage of it very well.”   



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