Cooper Lycan of SoBet.io joins the Knup Sports Show today to talk about his sports picks & social platform. He also chimes in on what it’s like starting a business from scratch.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Hey, what’s going on everybody? Ryan Knuppel here, Knup Sports Show Episode 184. Hope you’re all doing amazing today. Thanks so much for tuning in. Really appreciate it it’s been a while, I know that I’ve taken a little time off here with the Thanksgiving holidays, and I haven’t brought you any exciting interviews, no content, but here I am today with sn awesome interview, awesome dude that I got to meet here recently, and I’m excited to jump into what he’s up to and talk about that. So hopefully enjoy it, hopefully you’ll learn something out of it, and if you ever have questions about any of these interviews, or have questions, please feel free to reach out afterwards. So, without further ado, I’m gonna bring on my guest. I have Cooper Lycan from SoBet on today. Cooper, how are you, my friend?

COOPER LYCAN

I’m good, thanks for having me on, Ryan. And, you know, you should be taking time off. I see you buzzing around constantly, one of the busiest guys in the industry, so don’t knock yourself for taking some time off.

RYAN KNUPPEL

We all need it, don’t we? We all need a little time off, it’s nice to recharge the batteries, I like to say, you know, when you can just kinda relax, watch some sports. Because a lot of times, us in the sports industry, right, we’re in the sports industry, but when do we actually enjoy sports? So, taking that time to do it is what we gotta do. How are you, my friend? You doing well?

COOPER LYCAN

It’s funny, when people ask me what I do in my free time, it’s like, “Well, is it my free time or is it actually still working, just watching sports?”. [Laughs].

RYAN KNUPPEL

It goes hand in hand, it goes hand in hand. Well, Cooper, really appreciate this. I’m looking forward to getting to know you a little bit, and um, let’s start there. Let’s start with you, tell us a little bit about your path and your journey that led you to where you are today with SoBet.

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, definitely. Um, so I graduated college in 2017, uh, went to West Point, so served 5 years in the military. Um, recently got out in May, uh, most recent [inaudible] I was with was the 75th Ranger Regiment down in Savannah, Georgia. Thoroughly enjoyed my time in the military, lot of good experience, obviously. Um, a lot of good people, lot of good lessons learned. How I kinda got into SoBet was, I’ve been a sports bettor for the better part of the last 10 years of my life, and eventually I got so into it that I wanted to become profitable like every sports gambler, so um, I really started to drive home, like, how to be a handicapper, and increase my betting skills and betting knowledge, and that led to me becoming profitable for the last 5 years. In doing so, passed through our appeal in 2018, sports betting kinda came into the limelight, and me being a big sports bettor and obviously a next-gen focused person, I was on social media constantly and I saw all of these handicappers kinda migrating to social media, and me being a handicapper started to reach out to some of these guys and get to know them a little bit, and basically what I saw was this ecosystem building in the handicapper world where some of these guys were trying to sell picks, some of them were trying to gain their following, and over social media, but it was a very unhealthy ecosystem because a lot of them were competing for the same customers, and then as the customer, you know, you weren’t really getting those picks until you swiped your card. So if they were trash, you probably weren’t going back to that person. If they were good, you might stay on for a little bit but as soon as they took a downturn, most likely, you’re gone. So it’s kinda this unhealthy ecosystem on both sides of the world and also you had in the middle of it, social media, where these guys were putting out really good content in my opinion. A lot of their content is where I was going to basically, uh, create my insights on who I’d bet on. So in getting to know them and hearing these, kind of, gripes, we decided to launch SoBet, which is a curated stream of sports betting experts, influencers, handicappers, um, all of the above, and basically what we do is deliver that for $9.95 per month to users, uh, so picture a combination of Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, but the only posts you can see are posts by our contracted influencers. As a use you can comment, like, subscribe, get text-based notifications, but uh, it’s only our contracted influencers posting their insights regarding sports, fantasy, daily fantasy. So that’s kind of the story in a nutshell.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s amazing.

COOPER LYCAN

We launched it in June, uh, initially we had 8 influencers that we got on bored with about 300k followers, and now we’re up to 27 with 1.5 million combined on all socials, so we’ve signed up over 5,000 paying users, so, yeah. It’s been a wild ride.

RYAN KNUPPEL

What a journey, man. Well, first off, thank you for your service in the military. I wanted to get that in there and make sure I thank you for that time. But, man, what a path for you. So, it wasn’t even, like, one of those, like, planned-out paths that’s interesting you. It’s, like, something you do that led you to, like, something you didn’t like that led you to something better to fix, kind of, that problem, which you hear that a lot. But that’s such a…I feel like some of the best businesses are created out of that path, right there. So, that’s amazing, that’s awesome, uh, I love that story. Um, and so yeah, SoBet. I mean, I love what you said about, and it’s so true, you know, the whole “I’m gonna buy picks from people”. It’s so like, “Yeah, I’m gonna buy this person’s picks, and then I don’t like them so I’m gonna buy this person’s picks, and oh yea…”. Because we all know people are going to lose. They’re going to lose. They’re not always going to win, and I think this culture these days is so “win all the time, win now” mentality, that like, I love what you guys are doing with the curation of it all, where, like, “Hey, you’re subscribing to all these people. You’re subscribing to us as a team,”. That’s correct, right? That’s how that works, really, is your influencers, if somebody subscribes to SoBet, they’re getting all of you guys. Is that correct?

COOPER LYCAN

Yep. They get everybody’s content. So, kind of a hard take on it, is we’re putting all that information in one place and that enables users to kinda go through and they can choose what they like, create a more informed decision, and get multiple opinions instead of just kinda, like, swiping that card. We’re more focused on, like, the analysis and breakdown side of it, short-form media type, instead of just, like, delivering straight picks.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah. That’s amazing. So I pulled up the website here, just kinda walking through it with people, I always like to show people, you know, as we’re talking through it. But, um, tell us a little bit about, I guess, where you’re at. You kinda threw out some numbers on, you know, it sounds like you’ve grown, you’ve got some users using it, influencers have grown, um, but how are things going from a business side? Are things moving forward like you would like to see?

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, I think we’re way ahead of schedule, honestly. Obviously, it’s a start-up, so we had to raise a little bit of money, we’re not profitable right now, but we plan to get profitable as a traditional start-up does. But, I mean, we’re way ahead of schedule, which is obviously great to see. I think the biggest thing is we really resonated with the influencers, right? What we do is sort of a B to B to C model, where that middle B is our influencer, um, and we’ve really resonated with them, with the relationships we’ve built, um, and they’ve kinda bought into the vision, which is massive because, obviously, in my philosophy, a rising lifts all ships, so that’s really what we preach to these influencers, and we try to build really tight relationships to put more resources around them, so SoBet is more than just a platform for users, it’s a platform for users but also this company that these influencers can lean on for resources.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I’m curious, what have you noticed on the consumer side, you know, because we have all these social media platforms that people live and breathe on, you know, Twitters and Instagrams and TikToks and all of the above, but you guys are kinda, you have a social media element to SoBet, correct? In that as well, are you seeing people enjoying that and using that piece of it, or are they truly really just in and out for the picks, and they want he picks and they’re done? How is that social element with what you’re doing as well?

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, so part of our whole philosophy is bridging content creation with expert sports information. So I think that’s really where the future of sports media is going, right? Like people want, are always going to want, to be engaged, are always going to want to be entertained, but at the same time, with the rise of fantasy, daily fantasy, and sports betting, they’re gonna want accurate information, right? And if they’re not getting accurate information, then they can lean on the entertainment value of the platform. So that’s really kind of the crux that we aim for, is that middle ground of content creator and sports betting expert.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Cool, cool. So what’s the future look like? Where are you headed? What’s uh, what’s next? Is there big plans in the future, or is it just the matter of continuing growing influencers and customers? Is it as simple as that?

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, I think, like you were kinda alluding to, we see ourselves as a future media company, right? And a lot of our influencers are content creators first, um, and sports experts second, which makes it very easy for us to grow as a media company, because we have that entertainment value. So I think as we continue to grow and our influencers continue to lean on us and kinda bridge some of those gaps, more traditional forms of media, such as podcasts and live streaming, things like that, I think you’ll see the SoBet brand grow itself as a platform, which is kind of our goal, to build those two simultaneously.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s awesome, man. What I love about what you guys are up to and, you know, in particular, you nad your crew and everything, is you guys seem to be having fun with it, right? I know I met you guys out in Vegas, I believe, and you had a couple of your influencers with you, and you guys were, I mean, just so easy to talk to, and just, you can tell, you all lived and breathed this whole sports content creation world, and it’s not just a business to you, it’s actually life and it’s part of what you guys are doing, and it’s the same with that on social media, right? I mean, you can see you guys out on TikTok, and just living and breathing this stuff, so that’s what I really love the most about what you’re doing. You’re having fun as well, right?

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, well I think, um, that’s a good point because a lot of these influencers that we brought in to the fold never realized that this could be a full time job, right? And really, like they’re so good at what they do, and they’re so entertaining, they don’t realize the potential that they have, and they kind of need that overarching umbrella to take them to the next step. And I think why they’re having fun with it is they’re doing it together, right? They’re meeting guys and girls just like them that have the same goals, that want to be full time in the sports world because that’s their true passion, so I think when you combine those elements, it’s always gonna be fun.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s amazing. That’s really cool. So tell everybody that’s listening or watching, just tell them how they can get the app, what they need to do to go out here and get started with SoBet.

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, right now we’re just a web base mobile-optimized web app. So just log in through the website, Safari on your phone, Google Chrome, any browser will work. It’s $9.95 per month, so you gotta put in a card, but trust me, it’s worth it for sure.

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs].

COOPER LYCAN

And we’re, next football season, we’re launching a full-scale mobile platform, um, through the App Store, so it should be out shortly for apps to put on your phone, but right now we’re just web-based.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Awesome. And that’s SoBet.io, and we’ll put the links in all of the show notes and everything so you guys don’t have to remember, but SoBet.io, you can go out there and get all signed up as a consumer. But, what if there’s someone out here like, “Dude, I’m a content creator, I’m making picks,” how does that work? Do you have to do a full hiring audit of these people, or if somebody’s interested, would they just reach out? Tell us a little bit about that: becoming an influencer with SoBet.

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, right now, um, obviously the first influencers we had to reach out to and bridge those relationships and get them on board, but now it’s kinda grown itself in sense. We definitely curate people and wanna keep some sort of exclusivity to it, so we’re not just accepting anybody and everybody, we want really, like I was talking about that intersection of sports experts, sports content and the creator side of things. But yeah, if somebody reaches out to us, Hello@SoBet.io is our customer service line, we’ll definitely take a look at your socials and try to do an internal analysis on whether you’re the right fit, but definitely all creators are welcome to reach out.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I love that little comment you made about “it’s so worth it”, right? And I thought when you said that, I thought of it as it really is, because some of these pick services you see out there, you go out to, I don’t know, just any random place and try to order picks, right, you’re gonna find packages of hundreds of dollars a month, or even hundreds of dollars for a pick at times, and, you know, $9.95 a month and you’re getting all of these people who, some of these guys, you know, people that you have on your crew have 20-25 years of legit betting experience that, like, they’re good, they’re good at what they’re doing. Yeah, they’re not always all gonna win, but they’re good, and so that value, that comment you just made, it really is like, yeah, that’s like a no-brainer. $9.95 a month for all of these people. Crazy.

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, and a big part is we try to do away with a lot of the smoke and mirrors you see in the industry, right? Like, the boiler room hotline and Stu Feiner type stuff, it’s, we try to reconcile generally every bet. We have a partnership with SharpRank, so all our creators, or most of our creators, track their bets through SharpRank so you can actually see how they’re racked and stacked against other media experts in the industry. So, one of our goals is to build in more transparency metrics so that as a user you’re paying $9.95 but you know exactly what you’re getting. There’s not any smoke and mirrors. That’s who’s winning, who’s losing, what the bets are, etc.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s amazing. Shout out to SharpRank, we’re big fans of SharpRank as well. I think Chris came on Episode, like #148 or something crazy like that, so long time ago, but, yeah we do. We love SharpRank as well. And that’s big, you know, having transparency around your people and who’s making picks is, we all know, is a big part of where this industry’s heading, and one of the biggest problems with handicapping and picks and all these people out there, so…very cool, very good, very awesome. I wanna shift gears here before I let you go, I know you’re a busy guy, gotta get back to it. But, uh, I wanna shift gears, I have one more question for you. Um, it’s more on the business side of creating this thing, right? I mean, because you didn’t have the tech expertise, it wasn’t like this was your, I don’t know, you didn’t have all this education around how to start a business, and how to do the tech. How has the experience been putting that all together as a true entrepreneur that has to wear all these different hats and put it all together? Man, tell me some of the challenges with that and just how that experience has been for you, you personally.

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, I think at the core of it, it just comes down to team building, right? A lot of those lessons I learned when I was in the military and at West Point and I didn’t even realize I was learning them, right? Like, you kinda, you learn how to gauge people’s experience and what they bring to a team, and whether they can mesh and fit together to execute a common goal. I think that’s what we’ve done. I have a technical co-founder who’s very experienced CTO, he’s led numerous companies, built numerous apps, so that’s helped on the tech side. But, uh, it’s more than just having that experience, right? It’s putting the team together to accomplish the common goal, and a lot of that is waving through kinda the B.S. detector, right? You gotta know who’s actually gonna add to the team, and who’s setting of the B.S. detector, and I think in the sports betting world, that stuff definitely exists, so you gotta be careful about that. But I think in terms of just the business aspect, it’s been just team building, putting people around me that know more than me that are going to put us in a position to succeed.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I love that, I love that answer. Great answer. Now, one last question on the sports side of things, who are we gonna see in this year’s Super Bowl? I know we’re so far away right now, but you got two, I know you’re a sports guy, so give me two teams that we can potentially see there that you think may make it.

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, I mean from the AFC I like the Bills. I think everybody likes the Bills. Um, a lot of people are writing them off with the Von Miller injury, but you gotta remember they have Josh Allen at the helm, so, you know, I think they’re gonna have a chance, but it’s probably gonna be the Bills and the Chiefs, um, you know, in the AFC championships, so one of those two teams from the AFC. And then, honestly, my sleeper from the NFC, I like the Vikings.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Ooooo…okay.

COOPER LYCAN

A lot of people are sleeping on the Vikings, just because the up and down, the inconsistency, but when you look at the Rams last year, they actually had a lot of that inconsistency, but I think the Vikings have a lot of, just, pure talent, right? And I think the most talented in the NFC, so with a shakey NFC this year, I think they could come out of the conference.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I don’t know if they can play the defense needed to do it, but they could sure put up the points needed to just keep firing it away, right? They got the skill…

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, I mean, the Bills only scored, what was that, 20 points on them? So, I mean, if they can shut down the Bills, you know, if they can outscore, if they can hold the team to 20 points and not score, I think they’re very similar to the Rams last year.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Amazing. Awesome. Well, Cooper, we’ll let you go…

COOPER LYCAN

Who do you think? Who do you got?

RYAN KNUPPEL

Well, I love the Bills as well, to be honest with you. It’s weird, I kind of became a closet Bills fan a couple years ago. I don’t really know why…Actually, it was a weird story. I went to a sports bar here in Orlando, and it was called The Harry Buffalo. I didn’t have any idea it was a Buffalo Bills-themed bar, and it was packed with Bills fans, and they’re having a great time, and I’m like, “Man, I’m kind of a Bills fan,” and so I’ve kind of adopted them over the last several years, and, bandwagon or not, I’ve enjoyed their success and Josh Allen and everything he’s doing. So I like them, um, gosh, yeah it’s tough out of the other side. I mean, Eagles, maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know, it’s tough out of the other side. I’m going Bills all the way to win it, we’ll see what happens.

COOPER LYCAN

Yeah, nah, I agree. It just feels like it’s their, like they gotta get over the hump.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, exactly. Well, I appreciate your time, Cooper. We can probably talk sports all day long, extra sports. That’s a whole other show we can do sometime, we’ll get on here, we’ll just, man, we’ll just shoot the breeze about sports. But in the meantime, I might just go out to TikTok and watch all your guys and hear what they have to say everyday because I love some of the stuff that they do.

COOPER LYCAN

Definitely do. Check them out. We got Nasty, GutsyPicksCash, Jack Cote, check them out. They’re awesome.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I do man, I follow them all, so really appreciate it. But, uh, any last words, anything we didn’t touch on, I always like to open that up to you if there’s something we forgot to say here. Any last words?

COOPER LYCAN

Ah, no, just appreciate you having me on. I think it’s an exciting time. in the sports betting world, the sports media industry in general. I think we’ll see a lot shift over the next 5-10 years here, so. You know, we feel like we’re at the precipice of something, so it’s definitely an exciting time to get started on here, and I appreciate all the support from others in the community, and people like you. So, appreciate you, man.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Awesome. Any time, man. I appreciate you coming on and hopefully in a year or two you can come back on, talk a little success about the business, and we’ll go from there. So, alright Cooper, take care. Thank you for coming, really appreciate it.

COOPER LYCAN

Okay, thanks, Ryan.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Alright, that was Cooper Lycan of SoBet, SoBet.io. I really urge you guys to go out there, check out that site, get on TikTok. I have a blast on TikTok watching some of these influencers, he mentioned a couple there at the end. We’ll probably put some links out there in the show notes, just some specific people that are working with SoBet that are just good people to watch, especially if you enjoy that type of TikTok entertainment. But anyway, one of the great guys in the industry, really enjoyed meeting him in Vegas. Hopefully you enjoyed this show, hopefully you got a little something out of it and now you can go out and check out SoBet, $9.95 a month, get all the picks you need, it’ll be perfect out there. Alright, appreciate you listening, take care, I hope you have a good Christmas if I don’t talk to all of you before then. We may be back with another show or two in between, but things kind of slow down here near the end of the year, so enjoy family, food, football, all of the above over the next month and we’ll talk to you soon. Take care, and bye-bye.

[Outro sound].

 

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