Rayan Vatti talks about his ongoing journey of combining sports betting and season-long fantasy to create Wager Champs.

 

Show notes from Rayan Vatti Interview

Ryan Knuppel: Hey, what’s up everybody? My name is Ryan Knuppel the host of the new sports show. Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode. We are well over 100 episodes. And today, we have another awesome guest with us. We have Rayan Vatti. Rayan, are you with us?

Rayan Vatti: Yeah, I’m here. Thanks so much for having me on. I’m excited.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. Ryan is the founder of Wager Champs, an up and coming fantasy sports betting platform that you aren’t gonna want to miss. I’m excited to hear a little bit about what’s going on in your world, Ryan, but first, how are you? Are you staying safe? Everything good this last few months of craziness. Everything good with you?

Rayan Vatti: Yeah, I’m doing well. I’m hanging in there.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. You are based out of Arizona, correct?

Rayan Vatti: Yes, I’m in Phoenix.

Ryan Knuppel: So were you able to mentally cope with the no sports there for a few months? How did you get through life without sports? It was tough on me.

Rayan Vatti: I think it’s been really tough for everyone. And I’m glad I’ve been working on this project. Because otherwise a world without sports would have been really tough for me to get through. This has taken up so much of my time that it hasn’t been as big of a deal as it ordinarily might have been.

Ryan Knuppel: Yes, that’s actually a good point. A lot of times when you have a passion project, or even a business or whatever you have going on, that kind of fills the void and you almost ignore things that are going on around you. Enough of the small talk. Let’s get into the real guts of this. I want to hear a little bit about Wager Champs so tell us a high level overview of Wager Champs, the platform.

Rayan Vatti: Sure. So, I’ll just give you the quick version to start.  Wager Champs combines sports betting, with season long fantasy sports. We are doing this to create a completely risk free, but still competitive and social sports gaming experience. Basically how it works is users make bets using a fantasy bankroll, so completely fake money, and they make sports bets with that bankroll in our onset sports book, which has all the odds, the bet types, the sports you’d see in Vegas, we have everything. And obviously those just betting with fake money, that would be pretty boring, and nobody would want to play that. So what we did was we created a few different game modes, we have head to head 18 weeks, which works similar to fantasy football leagues, except with sports betting. Each week teams face a different league mate and a head to head matchup. And they compete to win their bets and build the highest fantasy bankroll possible. And then loser round robin style with playoffs and a championship game pretty much just like fantasy football, except sports betting.

Ryan Knuppel: Very cool, man. So tell me what made you roll out of bed one day and say, You know what, I want to start a business around fantasy sports and betting.  What’s your background? Are you a sports guy through and through?  Give me a little bit of what made you tick to make this happen?

Rayan Vatti: I’ve been a sports guy my entire life. I played soccer, basketball and tennis in high school. I’ve been playing and watching sports since I can remember. And I never got into sports betting myself, I played a lot of fantasy sports.  I graduated from college last year in May. So in college, I had a couple of roommates who bet a lot. And it was interesting, because at one point, they were like losing a little bit of money. And they said they were done betting, which as you might know, for a sports better just means taking a break. And so they took their break, but they would still look at the lines in the morning, make picks, text them to each other, kind of watch their picks and text, and even trash talk a little bit. And it seemed weird to me at first because they weren’t really betting with real money anymore. So, I don’t know why they cared. But I soon realized that just like a lot of people, they weren’t betting because of the money, or only because of the money. They’re betting because they liked predicting the games. And they liked how it made the games more interesting. And they like competing with each other. And that’s the type I’m trying to capture with Wager Champs. I’m trying to allow people to compete with each other and have that social experience of fantasy sports without risking their hard-earned money.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s really cool. This space is booming right now, right? I mean, this whole area, people talking about fantasy sports,  talking about sports betting in the United States. Lots of activity going on, and I’m assuming lots of competition in this area. What makes Wager Champs stand out above the rest? Do you guys have a differentiating factor above competition that kind of makes you what you are?

Rayan Vatti: It’s obviously a very crowded space, the sports gaming spaces in the fantasy sports space. But nobody else is really doing what we’re doing with our season long fantasy style sports betting leagues. There’s nobody else that has a fantasy sports book like we do with all the sports that we do, and all the bet types and all the odds, and then just our style of having people in season-long leagues and playoffs and a championship game, there’s nothing like this on the market right now.

Ryan Knuppel: Where are you at? I mean, are you launched? Are you up and running? What stage is Wager Champs?

Rayan Vatti: We are beta testing the product right now and I would say 90% finished. We’re getting that final feedback from some users and from our live testing groups, so we can make those changes. And if all goes as planned, we’re going to either target November 1, or December 1, launch date.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s so cool, man. That’s really cool. It’s a cool story. Anytime I hear a young kid, I’m gonna age myself, a young kid like yourself that’s right out of college, and jumping into something like this. Because I know how hard this stuff is. And a lot of times, I regret not jumping into some business opportunities way back when I was out of college, right. And I waited, waited, waited, waited. And now I’m loving everything I do in business. And so for you to take that jump and jump right into your passion right out of college. Man, I give you a lot of props. And that’s pretty awesome.

Rayan Vatti: I appreciate that. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Ryan Knuppel: I’m sure it comes with a lot of challenges, right? I mean, as we all know, there’s just the challenge of running and operating a business like this. And I’d love to hear maybe a couple of them that have been some of your biggest challenges.  The first parts of the company.

Rayan Vatti: I would say the biggest challenge is just not enough time in the day. Because right now I’m still working a nine to five full time job at a marketing agency. Right after that, I’ll go home, eat some dinner, and hit the gym. And then I’ll be working on Wager Champs till like 8pm to 2am.  It can be brutal, exhausting and frustrating at times. But I still do it, because I believe in the vision. I’m having a lot of fun. And I’m really passionate and believe Wager Champs can be big.

Ryan Knuppel: Do you have a technical type of guy? Who’s doing the coding? Are you a coder at heart? Do you have a guy, or a team with you that’s helping you do some of that technical work?

Rayan Vatti: No, I’m not a technical guy myself. I’m actually right now looking to bring on a technical co-founder. But to build out our initial product, I hired an offshore team. Going into it, I heard a lot of advice saying, you had to be really careful with your offshore team, and I was.  I’ve added a lot of different agencies and a lot of different people.  I’m really happy with the work they’ve done. And they’ve started to become really passionate about the product, too. It’s funny, just the other day, they were giving me some suggestions like, Hey, you know, it’d be really fun if we added like this, or we added that. And it’s just really cool to see them getting invested in the project as well.

Rayan Knuppel: That’s one thing I always have to keep in mind. There’s not one path to success. I mean, just because some people have had bad experiences with maybe an offshore agency or something like that doesn’t mean it’s not going to work for everyone. It’s interesting to me to hear that that’s your path. Some people are able to code it themselves. Some people have capital behind them and are able to hire, there’s not one path to success in business. You got to figure out what works for you and what, you know what works the best. And it sounds like you made the right choice. You’re happy with it. That’s amazing.

So, what are you looking for now?  You’re in beta testing right now, a lot of listeners here are probably startup entrepreneurs as well or experienced business professionals in the sports betting space. What are you looking for? What message do you want to send to them through this interview?

Rayan Vatti: My entire goal over the next month or two is traction, traction, traction, because right now 100% bootstrapped. I haven’t seen any investor funding because my plan has always been bootstrapped and kind of grit and grind my way to traction. I can approach investors with a proven concept and some real results. I don’t expect anybody to take me at my word that this is going to be big. I want to go out and over the next couple months, execute my marketing plan, and really prove that this is a platform that users are going to have a lot of fun on, that users are going to enjoy and that they’re going to want to tell their friends about. I’m excited to see where it goes.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s amazing. Doing that as a bootstrap product is tough, I’d imagine. But with your beta coming up here, that’s amazing. So I’d urge everybody listening. Definitely. Get into the beta, WagerChamps.com, right? I mean, I think that’s where they can start and go check it out and see the beginnings correct?

Rayan Vatti: Yes, WagerChamps.com is our pre-launch website and we have a mailing list you can sign up for. And one thing I probably should have made clear before is, this is a unique thing with us. But we’re going to have some free modes and some free games. A lot of our competitions are going to be behind a very small subscription. And that will just allow us to keep growing and keep adding more game modes and making the product as good as possible. Our initial subscription is going to be $15 per year, which when you break it down by month is really nothing. And we’re giving everybody that goes and signs up for our mailing list before launch a big discount, and we’re also going to be giving away a lot of giveaways on our mailing list. That’s something you definitely want to go enjoy.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s awesome. Follow up question to that, you know, thanks for sharing the monetization strategy, subscription based, and the games are free once you’re under that. And there are some free games as well, it sounds like, but I’m curious, are you guys developing an app as well as this is this app version, there’s going to be a desktop version, what style of play is, is your game?

Rayan Vatti: Starting with the website, it’s going to be a mobile app. So you’ll be able to play on your phone, I’ve tested it out, like all of our users are having a lot of fun playing with it on their phones, too. But eventually, we’re going to also turn this into an app. We’re going to add a lot to this. This is just the beginning stages. And I’m really excited to see where it goes, I think we can take off, and I really think you’re going to have a lot of fun.

Ryan Knuppel: Yes, as I said, there’s kind of unlimited potential in this space.  If you have a great product, if you have a vision behind it, and you mentioned a marketing plan and executing the marketing plan. I think customer acquisition is one area, that just is a battle in this space, right? People are fighting for customer acquisition, from the big ones, like Fan Duel, DraftKings, all of these, everyone’s fighting for that attention and for that customer acquisition. So, I’d be curious, what is your marketing plan? What kinds of things do you have in mind for, getting eyeballs on this and getting some people, at least looking at it?

Rayan Vatti: Customer acquisition right now in this industry is really hard, because there’s so many companies competing for the same users. And yet DraftKings and Fan Duel, spending a ton of money on commercials and driving up prices for all these sorts of advertisements, even on social media. So, our marketing plan right now is to be really creative with it, we’re going to, we’re reaching out to a lot of influencers. And we already have some really promising results there. We are going to do a lot of public relations and media relations, a lot of highly, highly targeted social media ads. And then I’ve also joined a bunch of sports betting and fantasy sports communities and group chats. And I’m talking directly to customers and figuring out exactly what they want. And I know it’s not all going to happen at once, I know that it’s not going to launch on November 1, and there’s immediately a ton of users on, it’s going to be a slow process, we don’t have the marketing budget. We don’t have the marketing budget to bring 100,000 users in all at once. But if we slowly, like build it up, and bring in user by user, and then they tell their friends about it, because they love the experience that much, we can have success.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s pretty cool, too. You know, just looking at your background a little bit, it looks like you have some experience in public relations. And now you get a chance to use what you learned in college and with some of your other roles that you’ve had over your small career working and things like that. You’re going to be now executing some of the stuff that you have learned and that you believe are true in this industry. That’s really cool.

Rayan Vatti: I never thought I’d be using it for myself necessarily for sure.

Ryan Knuppel: Rayan, this is awesome. I really appreciate you giving me some time. I know you’re a busy guy. So, I’ll let you go. Any last words for the listeners, anything you want to say before we get off here?

Rayan Vatti: Check us out on www.wagerchamps.com and check out our mailing list. There’s a lot of cool stuff there. I know there’s a lot of sports gaming business people on here, if you know anybody with a technical background that wants to get involved in an upcoming project, you can send me an email at [email protected].

Ryan Knuppel: You heard it here guys. That was Rayan Vatti, the founder of Wager Champs. Ryan, I really appreciate it and you giving me some time. Thank you so much for being here.

Rayan Vatti: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. Everybody. Check out Wagerchamps.com, go get your name in there for the beta. Check it out. It should be pretty cool. I’m going to get out there and check it out as well. Appreciate everybody listening, tuning in giving us a little bit of your time. Until next time, everybody stay safe. Ryan, take care and we’ll talk to you all soon. Bye. Bye.

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