Aaron Basch of Sparket joins the Knup Sports Show to talk about the social Betwork they are creating! Listen in and learn about what they are up to along with investment opportunities into Sparket.

RYAN KNUPPEL

What’s up, what’s up, what’s up, what’s going on, everybody? My name is Ryan Knuppel, and you’re watching the Knup Sports Show Episode #188, the 2nd show of 2023. We’re off to a fast start here, we’re excited for a big year of some awesome guests. 2022 we had, I don’t remember how many shows we had, but we had some amazing guests, and I think it’s only gonna get better here in 2023, and um, I’m super excited for all the awesome guests that are coming on. So, hopefully, you had good New Year and you’re off and running in your business and everything that you’re doing in this crazy world of sports and sports betting and iGaming. Alright, without further ado, I’m gonna go ahead and bring on my guest for today. Today I’m chatting with Aaron Basch, the cofounder of Sparket. Aaron, what’s up, my friend?

AARON BASCH

Hey, good to meet you, man.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Good to meet you as well. It’s funny, we were just talking before. We actually kinda met before. You reminded me that we had talked back in, like, literally 2008. That is crazy. But, yes. Good to actually meet you face-to-face as well.

AARON BASCH

Yeah, virtual conversations long time ago, man. It’s crazy. It’s a small place.

RYAN KNUPPEL

It is, it is. We can tell that story maybe a little later here. But first off, I want to get to know you a little bit, Aaron. Where are you from, where are you living? Tell us a bit about yourself.

AARON BASCH

Yeah, I’m from Los Angeles, I’m in Santa Monica right now, grew up here, went to school down in San Diego, so was there for about 10 years, went back to UCLA to study finance, and worked in a security firm for awhile, used to be a math teacher, but now my passions all in sports, and sports betting tech, and starting this company.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s awesome, that’s awesome. So, let’s dive right in. Tell me a little bit about Sparket. Sparket is the company. Give us a little bit of background about what it is and where it’s at.

AARON BASCH

Yeah, so Sparket came from combining sports with market, so like a marketplace, Sparket, sports market, and we created the social betwork, so it’s a bet on anything platform that’s designed to help expand the wagering industry. So, right now, you know, as sports wagering is expanding across the US rapidly, there very heavily focused on the traditional sports, but we believe that there’s a ton of long-tail events and underserved markets out there that should be able to be wagered on, so that’s what we created the platform for.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s really cool. The “social betwork”. I love that, that’s a great play on words that you guys have there, and I see, I’ll pull it up here as we’re talking about it, but I see you trademarked that kind of name and everything around it, so really cool. Where did that idea, the name, I mean, I’m assuming I know where it came from, but tell us a little bit about the history of how it started, I guess.

AARON BASCH

I, I, you know, personal frustration I would say, right? Like, ’cause an LA native growing up, all my buddies were Dodgers fans, and we’re trying to make bets against other players and, you know, just in our Whatsapp group and things like that, and it’s hard to find people to bet against in your own little community here, and so it was like, “You know what? We should be having other communities out there where people can be betting amongst themselves and amongst friends”, and so, that whole kinda social betwork idea came out of that, and our goal is to really just connect people that want to bet on unique things.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s cool. So, where are you at? Where are you at in the life cycle? It looks like you got, uh, a lot going on, but where is the app at in its life cycle?

AARON BASCH

Yeah, great question. So, since gambling is a regulated industry, one of the most crucial things we had to do was get a certification, so we worked with Gaming Labs International and earned a certification for sports betting with them. Sports betting, it’s a Geolife 33, so back in September, it took us about a year to build the software and get all that ready to go, you know, a lot of reporting that comes with that when you work with regulators, so getting that certification was huge, and that really opened the door for us to start working with real casinos. Yeah, you can see that Geolife certification checkmark on one of those little things we were scrolling by. And subsequently, after that, we partnered with Red Rock Resorts and Station Casinos, and looking forward to bringing our tech to their million-plus players in Las Vegas, Nevada area. They have 21 different casino locations.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s really cool, that’s really neat. So what’s the, I mean, what’s the, I guess, reception of this been like, I mean are you getting positive vibes from the people that are using this, what’s that look like for you guys?

AARON BASCH

Yeah, it’s been a really fun journey, I mean, I think, you know, one of our targeted solutions is in the esports and gaming space especially because there’s so little data out there from a historical perspective, and there’s always new up and comers, and things like that, and so because that’s legal now to bet on, I think in over 9 states, that’s been one of the main focuses that we’ve been playing with. We’ve done esports tournaments, but all sorts of other fun stuff, like working with private golf clubs and doing their member/guest golf club tournaments, running the betting for that, we’ve done a drone race before, um, so you know, reality TV shows, we had a pilot with The Bachelorette where we were doing betting on The Bachelorette, who’s gonna get kicked off this episode, or who’s gonna get the rose, there’s just so many things that I think sports book are missing out on in terms of demographics and content, that we’re trying to bring to light here.

RYAN KNUPPEL

So you’re truly a, so explain a little bit more, so you’re truly a B to B company, so you’re working with the sportsbooks, are you also in the B to C space yourself? Or are you working with the sportsbooks who are then in the B to C space?

AARON BASCH

Yeah, I mean, it’s probably like a B to B to C platform because at the end of the day it’s customers using the product. Because of the regulation in the industry and some of the challenges, I think we pivoted from going directly to consumer to more of a B to B supplier kind of side to work with the companies that have already the operating agreements in place and the licenses and all that.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, yeah. Very cool, very cool. So where are you headed? Where’s this headed? What’s the future of this space look like for Sparket?

AARON BASCH

I mean, I think in general, the sports betting in tech is just starting to really get innovative and cool here in the US, but I think although its been around in Europe for a long time, the market is much different here in the US, and so, you know, people are expecting new technology, different technology, especially after the last few years with Robin Hood in the financial space and all the crypto things coming out, you know, I think consumers want more transparency, they want lower fees, and its 2023 now, they want to be able to bet on stuff with their friends easily, like, and it’s kinda crazy to me that there isn’t technology out there that’s doing that at all.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, yeah. What’s some of the operators that, I know you mentioned one or two, but what are some of the partners that you currently are working with that you can name?

AARON BASCH

Yeah, so Red Rock Resorts is probably our biggest client. We’ve worked with Wager, they’re a sportsbook in Tennessee, we worked with a couple other companies, Play for Tickets, they do some online stuff where you can win tickets to different sporting events. We just recently partnered with WagerWire, they’re like an aftermarket trading for bets, so very cool unique way, after you have your bet, you can sell it to a 3rd party. Um, and then we’ve done some more local stuff of smaller casinos here in SoCal, we’ve done some esports tournaments, golf club tournaments, and, uh, yeah, some other smaller pilots with partners like that.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s really cool. So I have to ask this, because this is kind of a business type show, a lot of the watchers are probably other business owners, people in the iGaming space, and one of the big flashy things that you have on your website, “Ownership Opportunity”. It looks like you guys are raising funds in some sort of a way here, I go to that it looks like. Tell us a little bit about that opportunity and what you’re actually doing there if somebody wanted to actually invest in the company.

AARON BASCH

Yeah, thanks for that plug, always appreciate that. So we had raised some money originally through friends and family, angel investors, and like initial round, I’m sure, you know, everyone’s seen how the market and financial situation is going. We got connected with Start Engine through one of our advisors and investors and did the whole due diligence process over the summer and now we’re live on there as a crowdfunding opportunity, and our company, we’re trying to kind of crowdsource data, and kind of crowsource the whole betting, so just, and uh, yeah, I mean it’s like, you know, everyone’s kinda “I wish I could’ve gotten in DraftKings before they IPOd” and all these other things like that, but unless you’re an institutional or high networth person, it’s hard to do that, but with things like Start Engine, anyone can get in, which is really cool because, yeah, you only need $250 is the minimum investment, you don’t have to, you know, have a crazy net worth, you just have to be interested.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s really cool. That’s an awesome opportunity. I’ll make sure to put that link out there in the show notes as well, but I think that’s a, yeah, that’s a really neat way about going about that. I think it really allows a lot of people, that like you said, may not be able to invest in some of these big big projects, kind of be a part of something, which a lot of times, is to be a part of something, right? Be a part of something cool and dynamic and new, so that’s really neat.

AARON BASCH

Definitely. And I think it’s great for building the community, and now we have almost 50 investors that are part of our community to help get this out there, so it’s been a great experience working with them too.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s cool. Let’s shift gears just a bit. You’re out in California, I’m here in Florida, neither of our states have come along this whole sports betting journey with us. Um, you know, as business owners and people in this space, it’s like, it’s crazy to think that we’re, like, running businesses and it’s not legal to even sports bet in the state that we live in. It blows my mind every time I actually think about it, but my question is, and again, this is more opinion than anything, but do you think California is ever gonna legalize, I mean, where do you think California’s at, and what’s that timeline look like? Just a complete guess/opinion from your side.

AARON BASCH

Yeah, and I actually have a little bit of insight from attending some of these conferences in the industry too, and I think California in particular, there was a little bit of, just, kind of upfront the way they put two different ballot props together that caused a lot of turmoil. You know, in California, a lot of the gaming is controlled by the tribal groups, so I think there needs to be a better way that they have something to bring in the FanDuels and the DraftKings but also keep things with the tribes and I think because they didn’t do that when this last ballot prop came through, you know, you already have people that want to say no in general, but now you have two different competing props, and I don’t know if you saw the marketing in Florida, probably not, but these guys were saying “Vote yes on this one and no on this one”, and it’s like, this is gonna, you already just made this 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, because now you got one prop, another prop, and just a general no, you know, you really need to be closer to a 50/50 thing if you ever want a chance to pass. And I think in 2024, they’ll figure that out and, you know, part of that is because what happened in some of the other states is they legalized it and I’ll take Arizona as an example, and I think the tribes feel like they got the short end of the stick because they weren’t ready to turn everything on, whereas DraftKings and FanDuel, they were already live in multiple states, so as soon as they were able to turn on they did, and they just captured the whole market share, so tribes felt like they didn’t really have a fair opportunity and they were behind on the tech, and so they lost out on some of that.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah. What about Florida? Any input, I know you’re on the other side of the United States, but do you have any insight here? Cause we were like legal for a week, and I was all excited, and then all of a sudden not legal, and lawsuits, and ah, I can’t keep up with all of it, but anything on the other side over here?

AARON BASCH

Yeah, I think, I’m sure they’ll figure it out soon, and I think I remember, right, it was with one of the tribes out there, the Seminole tribe, and so I’m sure it was somewhat similar where there was something unfair happening where, you know, these guys that already have the gaming in the state, and now you’re trying to take that away from them, and yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me, it’s just not an established process, and so they’ve gotta figure it out and I think they will.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Sure, sure. Well, from a business side, Aaron, tell me about one of the challenges you guys are facing or, you know, maybe you’re facing currently. And a second part of that is maybe somebody listening could help with that challenge. But what are one of the biggest challenges you guys are facing as a company right now?

AARON BASCH

Yeah, I think, you know, the industry is an old industry, you know, it’s been around in Nevada for quite a while, and so innovation is a challenge, and getting on tech roadmaps with these companies can be a challenge because they’ve been doing things a long time in a certain way, and been successful doing that, right? They’ve been making money with traditional sports betting for a long time now. So getting people to think about things in a new way and potentially lowering their commission or lowering their vig, or offering things that they haven’t done in the past. I think that some folks that kind of scares them, right? And it turns them off because they’ve been successful doing what they’re doing, right? So that’s been a little bit of a challenge we’ve had, is like, trying to figure out how we can get in the tech roadmap and bring our technology to the consumers, but I think most people will see that we’re not trying to cannibalize any of the industry or compete, we’re actually trying to add a new layer and new bet types to everything, so we’re not trying to take away from any of the existing customers or bets that are happening, it’s truly the opposite. We’re trying to bring in new demographics that , you know, the younger generation, they don’t watch NFL like I do with the passion, right? But they watch Twitch and streaming with the same kind of passion that I have for football, and so I think, you know, turning that tech on is really just gonna help in the long term.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, yeah. Very cool. Very cool. Well, Aaron, really good to have you on, and it’s super cool to see and hear that we were connected, actually you brought this up to me at the beginning, but we were connected back in 2008 and actually, for everyone listening, I mean that was still in the sports betting world, I mean, it was kind of like, pre-everything going on, oneseason.com. I don’t know if any listeners were part of that, but I know you were top of the leaderboard and I was kind of dabbling up there as well, and we had connected back in the day, so it’s really cool to circle back around and all of. asudden we’re both still in this industry. Man, what a blast from the past when you brought that up.

AARON BASCH

Yeah, you know, I mean, that’s probably one of the things that had some inspiration there. I think they were doing something right, they just, they couldn’t get it all figured out, and I think this was even before, like, daily fantasy was going on. This was a long time ago.

RYAN KNUPPEL

100%. 100%. FanDuel came out of that as well. Nigel Eccles was one of the One Season guys that was part of that, and he developed FanDuel straight out of One Season. I, yeah, crazy how it all kind of stems from each other. So it was before DraftKings and FanDuel were even a thought.

AARON BASCH

Yeah, the whole, I mean now with the NFT space, it actually seems like you could, that thing could have a resurgence in some sense, um, cause that’s kind of what it was, it was a virtual trading card, but before blockchain, and yeah.

RYAN KNUPPEL

You’re getting my wheels spinning as an entrepreneur, come on now. [Laughs]. Very cool.

AARON BASCH

There’s a thing out there called Mojo that Alex Rodriguez started, that they’re trying to do some similar type stuff that reminded me of the One Season thing, so it’s coming back.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Very cool. Well, it is coming back. Cool. Well, I always leave this open at the end, Aaron. Any last words for the audience, anything you want to say before I let you go from here?

AARON BASCH

Just hoping everyone’s bets in 2023 come out on the right side, and uh, hope. you can join us on the social betwork when we come out.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Awesome. How would they get ahold of you or someone at the company if they wanted to learn more about what you guys are up to?

AARON BASCH

Yeah, you can check out our website at sparket.com. Um, we’re on Start Engine right now as well, you can email me directly if you email support@sparket.com, that’s me at the end of the day, so.

RYAN KNUPPEL

There you go, taking care of it all. Awesome. Well, Aaron, appreciate your time today, good luck with everything. If I can do anything to help, let me know, and uh, appreciate your time here on the show today.

AARON BASCH

Thank you so much, and great to kind of reconnect here in a sense.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Absolutely. Good to talk to you. Talk to you soon, Aaron.

Alright, that was Aaron Basch of the social betwork Sparket. Really cool guy and an awesome product. They’ve got a lot of cool things going on, so I encourage everybody to go out and check that out and then check out the investing opportunity as well. I know I’m gonna dabble in that a little bit and take a look at everything they’ve got going on, because I think they’re really, uh, got some cool things, you know, currently going and in the pipeline as well. Hopefully you guys enjoyed that, hopefully you got a little bit of value from the show today. Um, we’ll put all the links and everything in the show notes so you guys can go click on those and check everything out if you didn’t catch those in the live version. I’m Ryan Knuppel, this was show 188. If you know of a good guest or somebody that you’d love to hear from, I’m happy to interview them, please reach out, let me know, and I’ll make that happen. Alright, until next time, take care, stay safe, and we’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Relevant Links:

  1. Find Sparket online.
  2. You can connect with Aaron through his email: support@sparket.com.

 

More Knup Sports Links

Contact Ryan Knuppel

  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryanknuppel
  • Email: ryan@knupsolutions.com

 

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