You know that someone is really passionate about the betting sector when they recall telling their school career advisor that their ambition was to own a chain of betting shops and how they paid a school fine for being caught (twice) aged 15 in a bookies by landing a double on Oh So Sharp and Slip Anchor in the 1985 Oaks and Derby respectively. We caught up with BetConstruct's Chief Product Owner Stuart Baker for what started off as a conversation about a new licensing option.
Can you explain what the licensing option is, the thinking behind it and where the idea came from?
Essentially, BetConstruct partners now have the opportunity to license our Sportsbook product on a software only basis, while retaining our comprehensive product support. This offer will be brought to market as Sportsbook Pro and will be of particular interest to established gaming operators with effective trading and customer support organisations, who can operate Sportsbook Pro using their own technical infrastructure. We continuously explore how we can make life easier and more profitable for our customers, and as part of this process we recognised the need to offer greater choice and flexibility. BetConstruct is above all a partner-centric organisation. The recent launch of our Spring platform is proof of this. The licensing option offered through Sportsbook Pro is also based on this idea informed by a number of empirical inputs into our decision making process.
Would you describe yourselves as a listening company then?
I certainly would. Listening is a central component of our overall company philosophy. At ICE our presence was planned as open space specifically to encourage people to come on to the stand and to feel comfortable to talk. So many interesting things come out of ICE and you are missing a trick if you don’t take the opportunity to listen to the market, recognise that the business isn't about you, it's about your partners, and learn and progress accordingly. Sportsbook Pro is just one great example of that process in action.
How does the company approach new product development – is it driven by technology or by marketing insight?
Clearly, we are very much a technology focused company in that we build almost everything ourselves. We have an in-built affiliate system, an in-built agent system, our own live dealer studio, our own casino – the list goes on. But we also have a real understanding of the business due in no small part to our roots as a B2C operation and to our ability not only to discern the requirements of our partners but also give birth to innovations developed within our group. Technology without market knowledge is something of an indulgence – there's little point investing in technology for technology's sake. However, I would like to think that we are at the forefront of both technology and market experience/insight and that’s both a powerful and a winning combination.
Your job title, Chief Product Owner, is a little unorthodox: what does it entail?
We have more than 200 developers working across a huge range of products and projects all of which require direction. To provide this direction we have a layer of product owners, each with autonomy over their sphere of expertise but reporting to the Chief Product Owner. There are lots of interdependencies, which require a mix of management and freedom. It's certainly not about managing out the potential for the Eureka moment but about having a holistic approach and maintaining our agility. It's also important to avoid the danger of 'death by committee' which is part of my remit.
Finally, what do look for in potential recruits to the business?
If you take expertise and the necessary qualifications as a given, the character trait I look for most is passion for the business and for the industry. Drawing on my own life experience, when I decided to attend York University it wasn't just because it had a good Economics Department – the fact that it was close to a raft of great race courses also played a major part!