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More than 400 000 rugby enthusiasts worldwide are currently competing against each other in predicting results and player performances at the Rugby World Cup – courtesy of the Superbru platform, a global sports score prediction app born in a London ‘digs’ shared by a group of UCT-schooled South Africans. In this interview, founder Andy Wood shares the journey of an online operation which, 17 years on, now offers games on all major sporting events, from soccer to golf, cricket to motor racing. It’s an entrepreneurial story of globally-minded Capetonians who turned their passion for sport and knowledge of tech into a serious business providing fun and excitement to its community of millions across the globe. They’ve managed to resist the overtures of corporate acquisitors and by retaining private ownership, continued following an evolving dream. – Alec Hogg
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Relevant timestamps from the interview
- 00:07 – Introductions
- 01:18 – Andy Wood on his background and the start of Superbru
- 06:55 – How he got into online betting
- 09:49 – The moral implications of betting
- 10:51 – What is Superbru today
- 11:32 – The revenue model
- 14:58 – How the Rugby World Cup has been for Superbru
- 16:55 – The incredibly complex work at Superbru
- 18:37 – What’s Next
- 21:43 – Retaining ownership and not selling to the ‘Man’
- 23:38 – Conclusions
Highlights from the Interview with Andy Wood, founder of Superbru
The Intersection of Sports and Tech
Superbru’s story begins with Andy Wood’s educational background, which laid the foundation for his entrepreneurial journey. He pursued a degree in Business Science with a major in Information Systems at UCT in the late 90s. This period coincided with the tech boom, and he attributes his capabilities in tech and business to the professors who guided him, including Derek Smith and Mike Hart. These early experiences set the stage for his future endeavours.
The spark for Superbru ignited during Wood’s time in London when he and a group of friends followed Super 12 rugby matches passionately. To make the games more exciting, they devised a simple prediction game with scoring based on correct predictions. The game was initially recorded on a sheet of paper pinned to the fridge, and the winner was awarded a squash racket.
However, the true magic lay not in the sport itself but in the sense of camaraderie and connection it fostered among friends living together. When they dispersed, Wood realized the game had created a bond, and he missed it. This nostalgia prompted him to create a website for his friends to continue playing, marking the birth of the Superbru concept.
The Evolution of Superbru
Superbru began as a hobby, a sideline project to keep friends connected through sports predictions. Gradually, it expanded as more people wanted to participate. In 2006, the founders saw an opportunity to turn it into something more significant as part of their business portfolio. This transition marked the beginning of Superbru’s journey as an international company.
What sets Superbru apart is its emphasis on community. Wood highlights that it’s not solely about the sport but about connecting people who share a passion for sports predictions. This community-centric approach has been instrumental in the platform’s growth and success.
Navigating the Betting Landscape
Superbru initially steered clear of the betting realm due to regulatory complexities and a desire to maintain a family-friendly image. However, Wood realized that some users enjoyed betting as a form of entertainment. To cater to this segment while preserving its core values, Superbru implemented a segmentation approach. Users can choose their level of interest in sports betting, allowing the platform to tailor their experience accordingly.
This careful balance enables Superbru to collaborate with betting companies and generate affiliate revenue while remaining distinct from traditional betting platforms. It also ensures that the platform remains open to all users, regardless of their stance on betting.
The Revenue Model
Superbru’s revenue model is multifaceted, combining various streams to sustain its operations:
- Advertising: The platform incorporates banner ads, some programmatically driven by Google, and direct sales of ad impressions.
- Sponsorships: Superbru partners with prominent brands like Coke, Heineken, and DHL to sponsor tournaments. These sponsors receive a customized experience and more extensive exposure than traditional advertising.
- Partnerships with Rights Holders: Superbru collaborates with tournament organizers, teams, and rights holders to engage fans and enhance the sport’s appeal. This mutually beneficial partnership helps boost engagement and fan participation.
- Premium Features: Users can subscribe to Superbru Premium, a paid service that removes ads and provides access to additional features like match previews and insights.
- Affiliate Revenue: Superbru earns revenue through affiliate relationships with betting companies and other businesses. They share these products with users who have expressed an interest in sports betting.
The Future of Superbru
Superbru continues to evolve, with plans to further segment its offerings by introducing dedicated apps for specific sports, such as rugby and football. This approach aims to streamline the user experience and attract new fans to each sport. These apps will cater exclusively to fans of the respective sports, providing a more focused and appealing platform.
Despite potential temptations to sell out to larger media companies, Superbru remains independent, allowing it to maintain its commitment to sports fans and community building. While partnerships may be explored in the future, the platform’s core principles will be preserved.
The World Cup and Beyond
The 2023 Rugby World Cup has been a significant milestone for Superbru, surpassing the platform’s previous records with over 400,000 participants in the predictor and fantasy games. The community’s engagement has been remarkable, underscoring the platform’s enduring appeal.
In conclusion, Superbru’s journey from a paper-and-pencil prediction game among friends to an international sports prediction platform is a testament to the power of community, technology, and innovation. Its unique approach to connecting sports fans while balancing the complex world of sports betting has allowed it to thrive in a competitive landscape. As it continues to evolve and refine its offerings, Superbru remains dedicated to enhancing the sports fan experience and fostering connections among enthusiasts worldwide.
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