You ready for this Grand Rapids bootstrapped startup story?
Two local entrepreneurs bet big on the sports betting industry, and it’s paying off. They took a bootstrapped side hustle and created an entirely new niche market in the Sports Betting industry.
We introduce you to Betting Hero.
Betting Hero is a true affiliate marketing company. They partner with companies like MGM and WynnBET, coordinate street teams across the US and have those teams onboard people to the MGM / WynnBET apps to begin betting. Every time they activate a new user that places a bet, they get paid commissions.
Sounds simple, right? Trust me, it’s not. When Betting Hero started, this concept was not even a side thought among the MGM’s of the world. Betting Hero had to educate them why it was effective, how it worked and what the value of this process was.
Numbers talk and the results have proven Betting Hero’s value to the industry.
- They have activated over 100,000 users in the last 24 months.
- They have grown their team size from 2 to over 25 full time employees in 24 months.
- They have a street team of over 250 people in 9 states across the US.
Basically, they are on fire.
How did Betting Hero even start?
I had the chance to meet both of the founders, Jai Maw and Jeremy Jakary, mid 2019 through a LinkedIn connection. I noticed they were crushing it, so I sat down with Jai to get their full story.
Jai came to Grand Rapids, Michigan to play soccer at Davenport. He soon met his wife, got married and later met Jeremy (because he was married into the same family).
At the time, Jeremy was working for Glassdoor as employee number 24 (before they were acquired for $1.2B, yes billion).
Jai looked up to Jeremy as more of a mentor during his earlier career days after graduating from Davenport. He would lean on Jeremy to get advice and the two grew a strong bond.
“Jeremy approached me after I just changed jobs and asked me to start a business with him in the soon to be legal sports betting industry in the US. As my mentor and friend, of course I jumped on this opportunity.”Jai reciting how the idea began.
They both kept their corporate jobs and for the next 12 months they worked on Betting Hero nights and weekends as more of a side hustle to prove the concept. They began by building street teams across the country, partnering with MGM and others and activating new users in states that just legalized online sports gambling.
“It wasn’t easy the first year. Basically we were working 100 hours a week, flying all over the country and juggle life in between.”Jai on the early days.
After the first 12 months, they finally got paid and realized how big of an opportunity this was. They both jumped in full time and the rest is history.
So, what is next for Betting Hero?
Besides being laser focused on growing into new legal states, Betting Hero is adding on more services for their clients.
One very new and profitable service they launched in 2021 is their Research and Testing services. Basically if a sports betting company has a main office in a non legal state, they can’t test out their app or offerings. Betting Hero offers a huge network of people to test out new features in apps in legal states and provide feedback to their clients.
“We were already doing this for clients and they loved it. We knew more wanted something similar, so we created a service and it has been growing a lot this year.”Jai on the new service offerings
Betting Hero is a very unique model in a brand new industry that is exploding. Online sports betting is basically the modern day Gold Rush.
“We are taking the Levi’s approach to this industry. Levi’s is still around. They sold dry goods to miners in the Gold Rush, we are selling services to sports betting companies that need it. We would rather “sell” the pickaxes versus mining the gold.”Jai on the mindset and approach of the sports betting industry
Don’t be shocked to see them at some events in a state near you. Here are some of their street teams and Betting Heroes hard at work.
Good luck, Betting Hero! We can’t wait to see where you go and we for sure will be places all bets here since Michigan is legal.
If you love this story, you will for sure love this startup story how an AR company was founded from an idea by a bottle of wine.