Alex Kornilov talks about BETEGY, the analytics and data visualization company that has worked with clients such as ESPN, YAHOO Sports, Kicker, and more

Video from Alex Kornilov Interview


 

Show notes from Alex Kornilov Interview

Ryan Knuppel: All right, welcome back to another episode of The Knup Sports Show. I’m your host Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Thank you so much for giving me a few minutes out of your day to just listen to what’s going on in this great sports betting and igaming industry. Today, I have another awesome guest with me, Alex Kornilov CEO and founder of Betegy. Alex, thanks for being here.

Alex Kornilov: Hi, Ryan, thank you very much for having me on your show. It’s kind of exciting

Ryan Knuppel: I’m so glad you’re taking a few minutes and being here with me. I’ve been wanting to catch up with you and what better way than to chat over the air where everybody can see it here. So, how are you doing over there? Are you staying safe through this COVID-19 craziness that we went through in 2020?

Alex Kornilov: In general, I’m safe. My team is safe, everyone is healthy. It’s kind of challenging to the business environment, which travels are restricted here in Europe. So, you always need to check, double check and triple check your plans, have all the testing done. Traveling to new businesses is a nightmare.

Ryan Knuppel: The challenges have just been that, that’s the definition of 2020 is just a challenge. It’s just been a challenging year all around and a lot of changes and everything. Before we get into BETEGY, I want to talk a lot about BETEGY and what you’re doing there, but I want to hear a little bit about your background. Your career background, what have you done in the past to get you to where you are today?

Alex Kornilov: My major, I did my bachelor in Polytechnic University, which is a technology University. It was more deviated towards the management, as well as data analytics. All the heavy load on statistics, data analytics and big data processing, from management point of view, how to manage those processes, what we can get out of it and saw that was involved in various startups. I started many companies, myself, all of them failed apart from one, which is BETEGY. But at the same time, I was involved in different projects with data analytics on state level, and statistical research, and I had practical insights into application of how they can influence our decisions, our life and I found it very fascinating and interesting. I used to work also in some corporate world, doing some banking, going back and forth between startup environment, and then in corporate environment and obviously, I decided to go more insecure road back 2012, I started the company BETEGY and that’s how, for eight years, we already live with big data analytics, data visualization, and all kinds of related projects.

Ryan Knuppel: Wow, eight years you’ve been around already. You’re not a newcomer. What we’re seeing a lot right now is a lot of these startup companies in the igaming and sports betting space that are starting but you’re established.   You’ve been here, you’ve been around the block a time or two. So tell them now, get into BETEGY a little bit and tell everyone listening, what BETEGY is if they haven’t heard of you, which they may have if you’ve been around that long. What do you guys do?

Alex Kornilov: Sure, we are a data analytical company and data visualization company. So, from one side, we started our journey back in 2012 by analyzing soccer data in Europe for our B2C clients, and also for B2B clients. Then when we started to sell our data to B2B clients, to media companies like ESPN, Yahoo, I didn’t get Axel Springer, which is a German big media house, and Turkcell media media in Turkey and now all around the globe, it turns out the data is one part of the equation to create great content. Second part is to tell a story with data. And then we realized that our customers want not only the data in tables and the numbers, they also want the visual part of it. We ended up actually spending a lot of our resources internally to add premium on the data visualization side. We transition throughout all those years by listening and working with different clients which transitions from BTC data noodle company, more to data visualization company for B2B clients and B2B customers, because we learned this is a hot topic, hot space. Everyone needs to make content based on data and that’s where we actually come from.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. You’re preaching to the choir, I’m in the content space as well.  I think, you know, content drives everything we do, and especially in the sports betting world, content is critical. Then having that visualization piece, that’s very data backed. I think that’s amazing. Talk to me a little bit about the sports that you guys are doing?  Is there a lot in the US with the US sports?  It started with soccer, right, with the European soccer? What are you guys doing in US sports?  Are you involved in everything?

Alex Kornilov: Recently we announced our strategic move to be established in the US. So it requires certain changes to dominant sports in our portfolio.  Soccer was one, but now it’s kicked out as more of a dominant sport.  We’re doing all the big four in the US landscape, plus tennis and eSports, because data in eSports is, should be much faster, and content created for eSports is way faster than any other sport. So that’s perfect for us. So we go, NBA ,NFL, MLB, hockey as well. So, it’s a rather interesting journey for us. Because during the transition being a European company, primarily, we need to learn so much about the US market and the way the data is visualized, presented and about the final user of data, which we are helping our clients to produce. It’s different and is amazing, the learning curve. Again, this kind of learning mode is engaging, how to do it correctly, but we have good people who can help us with that.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s important to have a team for sure. Explain to me a little bit more about how it works.  So, are you guys replacing content creation, article writing and things like that or are you a supplement to that?  Are you getting put into the articles?

Alex Kornilov: I will tell you, the idea came with our cooperation with the Apple support back in 2016. In working with their editors, they had their pain point because they buy all those expensive data from sports writers from Instats and what not, you know, sources data. The problem is if they actually use it for applications, which are websites and mobile apps front end of the bat, where every time the editor writes a piece of content, he needs to produce a visual piece. It takes 50% of time to actually find the proper copyright picture, which is usually a photo of a player. So imagine you have some game, and you want to cover statistics about this game. And instead of making an infographic for this, you actually put in a picture of an athlete because that’s the only thing you have, and instead, you would rather do a nice infographic comparing the two different types of data, and so on. But it will take time… you’ll need a designer and to go and research the data, you need to put it in and validate to do all those things. And the problem you have with the data is the expiration date of this content is so quick. And so you need this content that is highly valuable and always fresh and exciting, but it should be fresh. So no one is doing this. No one is doing the data visualization in making an infographic because it makes no sense. You put it in Instagram stories, and in 20 minutes, it’s not valid anymore. So the only solution here is a machine generated data graphics. That’s what we do. We plug all the different API’s and data sources, we work with more than 60 different data points plus (not data points), sixty different data sources, 1000s of data points, and so on. And we are able to create those visuals in scale. So, if you as an editor, for example, you do a review of a game and you want to present stats comparing two aspects. You just go in our system and select what piece of data you want to visualize and select where you want this to be going, and then you have like this picture, that picture, this size, that size, animation to this large digits with a live score, and so on. And then what is interesting, you know, we also started to work with betting operators. And they said, we have a much bigger problem in this because imagine we are huge media brands as well. But while the sports media has editors to do the work, in our case, we have affiliates or we didn’t have that many people and usually affiliates don’t produce good content, and we give them tools to produce good content. So we started to realize if we do this mix of data, we will add odds, and odds are usually the probabilities. This is a very highly important piece of content for anyone who is involved in sports betting, you know, we can make a superior product to what the individual editor can do.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, first of all, I want to commend you on your enthusiasm, I can just see how much you love this business in this space, and that always just speaks volumes for, you know, a startup owner CEO, who just really is in love with what they’re doing. And I can just see it in your face as you’re talking about what you’re doing, how much you love this space and I mean, that just means a lot, because it’s, it shows that you’re dedicated and into this space. So that’s amazing. A follow up question… you mentioned affiliates. I know a lot of people listening to this show are interested in the affiliate space, you know, we do content for content as in articles for a lot of different affiliates out there. I’m curious, do you guys have a service for affiliates? Or are you working with affiliates as well to be able to integrate your visualization into their content? Or is that not somebody you guys work with?

Alex Kornilov: We tried to but, the problem with affiliates for us, being on the small side we aren’t able to duplicate that in resources, the reasonable price for each single affiliate. So it’s not service, which is like, let’s say, you decide it’s not the constructor of media. So it’s mainly we’re working with operators where we prepare all the visuals, also legal due diligence, all the graphics, all the design codes, and design language and colors, and then then we’re able to put resources validated, and then this tool is given to affiliates of certain operator, and our operators who work with us and their affiliates are super happy, because finally, there is a tool which allows them to express themselves and create superior content. So, we are working out on the bigger scale with these betting companies, but then we have a roadmap for the next few years, to go also with customizable tools, where each affiliate will be able to put any piece of data on the visual and it will be automatically taken from our data API. It requires a bit more time to develop but that’s where we’re going and it’s kind of exciting as well, so soon we’ll also be able to cater to this market as well.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing. That’s a great answer. So speaking about soon, you know, what’s the future look like for BETEGY? What other things can you talk about that you guys are looking into doing besides growing in the US market? I know that’s big for your future. What else do you guys have on the horizon that’s gonna be exciting. Anything else you can talk about yet?

Alex Kornilov: Yeah, there are a few things. I mean, you can go like in terms of geography, but we are also a product driven company. We listen to our customers a lot. We take time to process the feedback, learn the pain points, and then after you do certain products specifically for our clients, which solves the problem. Then we offer the product to the rest of the customers, because we know that problems are similar. We work in two spaces, sports media and sports betting. We also work in digital retail too. So, in retail, we started this one year ago, this journey with a German betting operator, we unveil our system in all betting shops throughout Germany, Austria, and all locations they are present at where we produce customized content for every betting terminal screen in every betting shop. So, for example, if you go to south of Germany, you have Barnunig, who is like a top hot team so you have all the content about that. You go to the north, you have Hamburg. It’s different and it’s adjustable per location. And this year, we are launching (officially the launch will be in the first of January 2021) we’re our BETEGY TV system where we have an info screen, which our partner puts in every screen in the shop. And then 24/7 pushes a stream of statistics, analytics, optimization, live scores. And this is all supported from our side. It’s such a nice second screen experience. So when you watch a game here, you have a nice screen with all the relevant data for yourself and all betting shops, and this is kind of exciting for us. Then we have a great roadmap for eSports because eSports requires so much more product development than any other sport because the time is so quick. You need to have such a quick delay, and the delay needs to be very crisp and transparent. This is very challenging technical work there. But soon we’ll have the solutions for eSports streaming for streamers who promote that and brands not only so we can put top notch on air graphics, the way that Bloomberg style graphics are for any streamer to push any statistics as j bars, l bars, and that kind of thing. So this is interesting.

Ryan Knuppel: Really cool. Alex, you guys have a lot of work to do. It sounds like in 2021. But that’s some really, really cool stuff, right? I mean, really innovative stuff as well, things that other people aren’t doing. And that’s what I love about what BETEGY is doing. It’s stuff that is truly innovative in the content and data visualization space. So you know, props to you guys. You know, I know you’re short on time, we got a few minutes left here. Give me a couple of your biggest challenges running a business, you know, we all know it’s not easy running a business and being a CEO and trying to manage all these, you know, wear all the hats and do all this different stuff. Give me one of your biggest challenges that you’ve had going through this eight years of business that you’ve had.

Alex Kornilov: The biggest challenge for me was action to be patient to wait until the product matures and gets like, you know, transitioned. To go from being the man “I know it all”, “we can change the world” kind of person to rather stay, listen, come back and offer what is needed on the market. Don’t you know, of course you have a vision for innovation? Of course, you would not believe how many times… “Yes, this is what is needed in the market. That’s what we need”. We build it. We produce, we deliver, and everyone says “yeah, you know, whatever. It’s called technology, we don’t need it.” And for me, the biggest challenge in my business was actually to be client driven in terms of product development, and requires a completely different mentality. And then, especially in our industry, listen, in our industry, everyone is so innovation at the worst. So no one wants to do innovation. Everyone talks about innovation. But everyone is not making innovation, especially the CTOs of the companies always see the text, no, everything is fine with me, everything is working. So to get through this, you really need to listen to the what is the pain point of the client and then solve this pain point. Not like, you can innovate that foreign industry. And then it works. And then you showcase and then someone else joins. So it’s like a slow movement, there is no like, groundbreaking, which you can say, I can save the industry with that. And nothing happens, you fail, and you have kind of a good mood up to this point. It’s much better to failure, this kind of strategy.

Ryan Knuppel: Wow, I love that answer. Because you know, it was one of your challenges. But it’s great advice to any CEO or anybody that’s really in the service industry out there. You have to listen to what your clients want, because we’re not always right, like what we think is not always what the clients want. If you’re not able to adjust to that, I mean, that’s just great advice all around for any business owner out there. So, I appreciate you sharing that. That was a great tip there, Alex. So, we’ll let you go here, if anybody wants to get a hold of you, Alex, how would they get ahold of you? Would they go out to the BETEGY website? You guys have apps? What’s the best way of getting to you if they want to get ahold of you guys?

Alex Kornilov: Oh, yeah, I mean, I kind of open on LinkedIn and everywhere, you know, so you can find me and hit me with a message. And one thing, then you have betegy.com is a primarily destination for our services. I have a great guy there. You can get in touch with them, and they can show you demos, and showcase a product. Twitter, you know, Alex Kornilov, for Twitter, you know, whatever. Now, it’s not a problem to go to all of them at once. I’m here open, you know, and, you know, my name is easy to get.

Ryan Knuppel: And we’ll put up all of that in the show notes of this as well, so nobody has to remember it. We’ll put all the links out to you. Hey, Alex, any last words, any last words for the listeners, or anything you have on your mind that you want to speak before we get off the line here?

Alex Kornilov: You know, I would say, in our industry, that its innovation is so rare. And I really want to push anyone who listens to start working in this industry in terms of innovation because we need more entrepreneurs, we need more people who can push big companies to change. And I want to push big companies actually to look into data analytics, data visualization, AI and all kind of such trends because soon, you know, it will be like “poof” and everything’s changed and the game is changing, and you see it in other industries, and it’s still about to come in our industry. So, you know, I’m a big, big, big pusher for innovations, and looking beyond the good business, which you have already you need to look for an amazing direction.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, thank you for being here. Alex, I really appreciate your time. And anytime you need anything from my side, don’t hesitate to reach out and hopefully we’ll have you back on next year and maybe even in 2021 we can meet up at a real conference and say hello sometime that would be my hope.

Alex Kornilov: I hope so. You know, I really want events. Yeah, back to seeing people and shake hands.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, I mean, that’s, that kind of gives you that extra little bit in the industry. Just always good to see people, talk to people face to face, even though we get to do it virtually. I’d still rather be sitting down with you and have lunch. All right. Well, thanks for being here. This was Alex Kornilov, the co-founder of BETEGY. Alex, thanks for your time today. Listeners, thank you for tuning in. We appreciate you every time. If you need anything you know how to get ahold of us, Alex. Thanks again. Take care and stay safe.

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