In any given NFL game, nVenue CEO Kelly Pracht says the company’s predictive analytics platform can provide around 8,000 betting opportunities. For MLB games, that number jumps to around 15,000.
Helping to propel the Dallas-based startup towards its long-term goal of becoming the go-to platform for sportsbooks to facilitate micro-betting, it has raised $1 million from EBCI Holdings—the commercial gaming arm of North Carolina’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians—adding to a seed round of funding it landed earlier this year.
“What this really does is gives us runway, it gives us that strategic partner that has experience in the (betting) space, and allows us to keep developing as fast as we ever have before,” Drew Williams, nVenue co-founder and CFO, told Dallas Innovates.
Predicting the play
To facilitate those micro-bets—ones that take place in a matter of 30 seconds or so, based on things like whether a batter will make it to first base or strike out on the next pitch—nVenue’s platform takes real-time data of what is happening on the ground. It then runs that information through its “millions” of models to show the predictive percentage of what could come next.
The company has already found early traction, joining the 2021 track of the Comcast NBCUniversal SportTech Accelerator—something that helped nVenue make one of its first public debuts, providing a live feed of predictive data on an NBC Sports broadcast of a matchup between the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s. The company’s predictions are now displayed on two MLB games per week on Apple TV+’s Friday Night Baseball.
With the goal of using the technology to eventually turn those prediction displays into actionable betting items for fans, Williams says the company’s work with broadcasters is helping get the market used to the type of real-time analytics it offers and how that may differ than what can just be seen from a screen.
“What we’re doing is gearing up towards [becoming a real-time watch-and-bet product] and providing operators almost a million markets that they can take today, while we keep innovating on the watch-and-bet market,” Williams, a former director of finance at Tinder, said.
New investment will help nVenue expand to new sports
Williams said the new investment from EBCI Holdings, something the company wasn’t actively pursuing, gives nVenue a strategic partner with deep experience in the space, noting that the organization targets companies in the gaming industry space that it sees itself as a potential future client of.
An owner and operator of casinos in its home state and in Indiana, EBCI Holdings launched its $10 million incubator fund late last year to help it diversify its holdings and target future opportunities.
The new funding adds to a $3.5 million seed round co-led by KB Partners and Corazon Capital that nVenue landed in March, bringing its total raised to more than $5 million since it formed in 2018. That earlier funding allowed nVenue to grow its team from nine to 16 employees, with Williams adding the company can now provide around 800,000 micro-betting opportunities per week between NFL and MLB games.
“(Watching and betting) really gets the fan engaged with that sport, which is not only good for sports betting, it’s good for the media and broadcasters as well,” Williams said. “The more time and the more eyeballs you can have on the product, the better. We think sports betting in a micro fashion can do that.”
With its eyes on raising a Series A round towards the end of next year, Williams said the latest funding will help the company continue to grow its team in order to help add more sports—especially ones he calls “underserved,” like golf, tennis, and NASCAR—while continuing to build out its tech and bring on new clients.
“We’re going to grow significantly over the next 12 to 15 months,” Williams said. “Our goal between now and then, is to build the best micro betting platform on the planet, which we believe that we’re well on our way towards, innovating on new products and new markets, and new ways to bet and new creative ways to engage fans. Sports betting is going nowhere. It’s only growing, and it’s growing at an incredibly fast rate.”
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