Listen in to episode 176 as we talk with Paul De Groot, the Co-Founder and COO of HUDstats. He talks about how they are bringing esports data to sports betting companies.

 

RYAN KNUPPEL

Hey, what’s going on everybody? Ryan Knuppel here, Knup Sports Show Episode 176. Really happy that you are here with us today, giving us a little time out of your day to hear what’s up in sports business and iGaming, and today, actually, a little esports we’re gonna talk, which I’m super excited for. I got another awesome guest that’s gonna join me, talk about what he’s up to and what they’re company is up to, and we’ll dive into that in a second. First of all, today is Tuesday, football starts on Thursday. I’m super pumped about football. Football season is like the highlight of my life, I love that time of year here in the United States, so super excited about that, hopefully you are too. We’ve got a whole bunch of guests this week, I’m sure we’ll talk a little bit of football as we go through it. But, let’s not waste any more time, let’s jump right in and get our guest on here today. Today we have Paul De Groot of HUDstats on with us. Paul, are you with me?

PAUL DE GROOT

Yes, I’m there Ryan.

RYAN KNUPPEL

How are you?

PAUL DE GROOT

Fine, fine. How are you doing?

RYAN KNUPPEL

Really good to see you. Hope everything is well. How are things in the Netherlands today?

PAUL DE GROOT

Well, [inaudible] it’s a little gray. Great weather and, uh, you know, it’s always raining here, so I’m a happy camper.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Awesome, awesome. Well, cool. I’m super excited to dive in to HUDstats and talk a little bit about what’s going on there, but first of all, I wanna hear a little bit about yourself, and maybe your career path, some of the jobs you’ve had over the years that kind of led you to what you’re doing today.

PAUL DE GROOT

Oh, yeah, that’s a very long story. I think too long for your podcast, so. Yeah, I started my first company in ’94. It was in 3D graphics and I started to do gaming at the first, let’s see, redirection company in the world, and yeah. I’m gonna tell those listening that I’m a tech nerd and I always want to, kind of, push forward, and, uh, so eventually I got into the gaming space, and uh, eventually, um, the last team we had and now we’re going to move my team, my technical team, was about bitcoin and bitcoin training, and then the guy aid to me, “Yeah, you know, this is done. Now it’s our turn”. And they said [inaudible]…yeah we’re going into esports. So, uh, yeah. That’s how it happened.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Well, esports has certainly been, I mean, for lack of better words, booming and growing and really emerging, I think, over the COVID times. I think we saw esports kinda emerge over real sports, right? And rightfully so, as everybody had to stay home, so, I’m assuming that timeframe really kinda helped the esports scene, and go from there. But, tell us about HUDstats. So you’re now the co-founder/COO at HUDstats. Tell us a little bit about what that platform does and what it’s all about.

PAUL DE GROOT

Yeah, yeah, thanks Ryan! Cool, yeah. Well, you know, we start off with creating a widget for patent companies that they were bet, they were able to bet live. On live sports, like FIFA, or, uh, or NBA, or NHL, whatever. Um, but the problem was that the data we got them was not really enough, it was not, let’s say, [inaudible] enough, it was not fast enough, it was, lets say, a mess. So then we start to make our own data, so uh, what we do now for patent companies, is they have a tournament or a private tournament where they have their own gamers hired, and uh, they broadcast that like a show, and we got AI technology, we just, uh, take it off, we extract the data live, and we send it to the tournament owner, which is part, uh, we will bring it to the odds maker and they will send it to, let’s say, the betting platforms.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s really cool, that’s super neat. That’s not something probably many people think of happens in esports, right? I mean, we have data, and all of this is so big in real sports, it’s such a big part of it. Now in esports, it’s fun to see that type of thing emerging. What kind of brought about this idea for you guys, you know? What was the real driving force behind starting it?

PAUL DE GROOT

Well, to be honest, I was not driving for it because we just needed it, so we needed to make it ourselves, and the point is, you know, you have esports, you have API data, which are coming through the server itself, so you just have to organize this data and send it through, but the majority of the games don’t have this API data, so you have to grab it from the broadcast itself, and that’s within, let’s say, a half second. So that’s super fast, and in the beginning we started with the AI technology, which is, yeah, you know, challenging, but the most challenging is to get, in that short time frame, to the [inaudible] provider.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Interesting, yeah, that’s super cool.

PAUL DE GROOT

Yeah, it was kind of a necessity, you know, it wasn’t there, so everyone was saying “What are you doing?”. Yes, we know it’s not there, so we have to create it, that’s it.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Well that’s the best driving force in the world, I think, you know the necessities. Something is not there, that’s a super important product, right? That’s something that’s super needed, so that’s really cool. Tell me about the, um, the types of games that you guys are, I guess, working with. I mean is it every game? Go into some of the games that you guys really work well with.

PAUL DE GROOT

Yeah, we started of with FIFA22, the EA game, and um, yeah. And we have, let’s say, up to 13, as they call it, data points, so from corners to ref cards, or offensive, goals, and yeah. There’s a lot, and our AI detects it and sends it through, let’s say, to the bookies, and also we do, let’s say, NBA and NFL. Uh, we did this for Assist, it’s an English company, uh sports information systems [inaudible] on your side. And also for [inaudible], and we’re also working with La Liga, La Liga is the second biggest, let’s say, soccer tournament organizer, and we have a two years contract since the last week with them, so we came together to sell data to, uh, companies.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Congrats, congrats on the contract. You led me right in to my next question, and maybe we can expand a little bit on it, but I wanted to talk a little bit. So you guys are a purely B-to-B company, right? You’re working with other businesses and providing data to them. I was gonna ask, what types of companies, you know, are working with you guys, you kind of explained a couple of them, but uh, any others or any other partners that you kind of wanna mention or talk about there?

PAUL DE GROOT

Yeah, well we’re also talking with NASCAR and, you know the GP stuff and sim racing, and uh, but the point is that the, let’s say, some tournament organizers are allowed to resell data to gaming companies and others are not, and it depends on the owner of the rights. Um, and La Liga, EA holds all the rights, so they say, “We don’t want to have a sports betting game”, but lets say, other tournaments, in the case of FIFA22, they allow this and, uh, so we’re very happy to extract it for them and help them to sell the data to platforms.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Cool, cool. So let’s switch gears here a little bit. You know, I know, being the COO, always operating, always moving the businesses forward. What types of, or what are some of the biggest challenges you guys face, or maybe have faced over the last year going down this path and getting this going. What are some of the biggest hurdles or challenges you guys have faced?

PAUL DE GROOT

That’s a good question, Ryan. Um, of course it’s always talent, right? Because talent is hard to get, and um, also, it has to be, let’s say, [inaudible] how to be able to pay them, so our advantage was that we already had an existing team distributed around the world, and they all live in a different country, from Argentina to Serbia to Ukraine to Romania, uh, you name it. They’re all from a different country, and that’s the, I think the secret and also was a hurdle to have that, let’s say, cheap talent for a normal price, and um, and when it goes well with us, we kind of equalize all the salaries, or fees, but for now, of course, we take a different [inaudible] in let’s say, countries where it’s cheaper, you know, they tend to live with less. But that’s really our big advance, because if we would scout in our small country, you know, everybody’s like this, you know, real, let’s say, nerdy nerds, more because everybody wants this big tie, and wants to start with 10k, and hourly based, and that’s always my big problem because I think you cannot hire a program on an hourly base, because you know, that limits, you need to have one day [inaudible]. It’s like buying a car in cents, I would be [inaudible] thousands, right? Yeah, so that was the biggest hurdle and because we had the team already, we could enter it fast, because normally, it’s like, a football team, they have to work together at least for 2 years or something to get trust, because I think trust is the most important thing in a developing company, that people are, you know, they can say honestly what they think and they are not hammered back, and uh, I think that’s super important with a distributed team because everyone is still a little bit at a distance, right? You cannot socialize from drinking beer one hour.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, yeah, that’s always a big hurdle. A great team can make a business go, and an average or below-average team can make a business suffer, so you know, getting that right team and finding the right talent I think is a hurdle in any business, so that’s, I don’t think you’re alone there in trying to find the best teams. So, uh, but thank you, thank you for sharing that. So where are you guys headed? Where is HUDstats, where is that headed in the future? Are there certain things that you guys are maybe rolling out that you can talk about or different business development plans that you guys might have?

PAUL DE GROOT

Yeah, we do. I don’t know if I can share it though because it’s so important. [Laughs].

RYAN KNUPPEL

[Laughs]. No, that’s okay. High-level, high-level where are you guys headed?

PAUL DE GROOT

Well, our biggest, you know, the first steps need to be that we need to look more, let’s say, uh, sports betting companies which have their own tournaments, right? Because they have to own players against each other, and we help them to collect the data, because for now it’s all manual. So they have to hire for each game two guys for an amount per hour, uh, to get the data, but they can’t get 18 data points in a second, right? That’s impossible. Also, you can’t scale up or scale down, and we can do that without technology very well.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Sure, sure.

PAUL DE GROOT

But the future is, let’s say, to get all the big tournaments, the NBA, the NFL, uh, also some racing, you know, to be their partner so that we can resell their data to sports betting companies and the second tier is that we are, you know, we introduced extracting data for the existing companies to do as a soft serve, just to give it to them, and say that we’ll do whatever you like with this…[inaudible].

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, so it sounds like continuing the business, the business activity, so I guess my follow-up question, or I guess, ask during that, would be, you know, we have a lot of igaming professionals of all sorts watching this show. We’ve got sports betting, start-up people, we got esports, we got all sorts of leaders in business watching this show. Is there anything you’d like to, I don’t know, ask of them or somebody that’s watching this that may be able to help you, is there anything you wanted to say to the audience directly, or maybe ask of the audience, uh, before I let you go here?

PAUL DE GROOT

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. You know, our ultimate goal is to help the gamer itself, because we think that we need to have, you know, we’re able to get this data from every single game, and we want to do a look forward and also in the, let’s say, in the, yeah, [inaudible] bitcoin space [inaudible].

RYAN KNUPPEL

Yeah, bitcoin, yeah.

PAUL DE GROOT

I can say I need to [inaudible] I’m not allowed to say. But it’s in that direction, yeah.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I can see your, uh, your fine line of what you can say there.

PAUL DE GROOT

I’m concerned about that, yeah.

RYAN KNUPPEL

No, no, no, that’s okay. Well, I mean, Paul, it’s really good to have you on, I’m not gonna keep you much longer, I know you’re a busy man, you’ve got a lot going on, and it’s actually probably about the end of your work day there in the Netherlands, right?

PAUL DE GROOT

Well, you know, we work 24/7 because our team is also 24/7 so it doesn’t matter much, it’s just on go.

RYAN KNUPPEL

I love that answer, that’s my answer too, like, “What’s a work day?”, a work day is like 24/7/7, right? That’s a work day. [Laughs]. That’s awesome, but any last words for the people, anything we missed, anything you wanted to touch on that maybe we didn’t cover here before we let you go?

PAUL DE GROOT

Yeah, you know, please, all sports betting companies who would like to be in the esports realm, just uh, call me up, you know, and we talk about to do some business. That’s what I’m for.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That’s it. How would they get ahold you, or what they go to, I know it’s HUDstats.com is the website. Is there a certain channel to get ahold of you directly, or what would they do to…

PAUL DE GROOT

They can mail me at paul@HUDstats.com, and they will get an answer, and of course, we have a thousand channels but that’s too much to tell you, so, uh.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Awesome, awesome. Well we’ll put that email and the website into the show notes so that they can click on that. Paul it was really great having you on, I really appreciate your time, and wish you the best of luck with HUDstats, and if there’s anything I can do for you as you move forward in business, uh, certainly reach out in the future.

PAUL DE GROOT

Great, Ryan, I want to thank you so much for your time, and it was a pleasure talking to you.

RYAN KNUPPEL

Alright Paul, take care. We’ll talk to you soon.

PAUL DE GROOT

Ah okay, bye-bye.

RYAN KNUPPEL

That was Paul De Groot of HUDstats, episode 176 in the books, super excited to have Paul on and learn what they’re doing in the esports space. Uh, really cool. Digitizing sports streams and really bringing data into sports betting companies through esports, so. Super cool, uh, I love talking esports. It’s not my, uh, most natural thing to talk about, but I do love learning and talking through the esports industry as well. So, thank you for tuning in, and like I said, we have several guests coming up this week, so be on the lookout for more shows. Uh, if you know anyone that wants to be on the show, please get them in touch with me. I’m Ryan Knuppel, you can find me on LinkedIn, @Knup about anywhere on social media. Thanks for your time, we’ll talk to you soon, and stay safe out there, and enjoy football. It’s coming up, we can’t wait. This week, football starts, talk to you all soon. Bye-bye.

[Outro sound].

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