The idea for Betolio, the peer-to-peer betting app, was generated from Aaron MoCoy’s annual get-together with a handful of old college friends.
Every year they get together to catch up, reminisce, drink beer and watch football, basketball or really any sport that is live at the time.
To make the games more interesting, the guys make friendly wagers: “I bet $1 Steph Curry is going to miss his next three-pointer.” Someone at the table with the confidence Curry will make the shot, takes the bet.
In the end, $1 is exchanged, and jokes are made at the loser’s expense. The small bets continue, the camaraderie builds, and memories are made.
Each year, the trip ends, and the guys try to continue the fun by wagering virtually. Eventually, the fun fizzles out with the manual-ness of tracking emails and text messages.
McCoy tinkered with the idea of building an app to replicate his friends’ betting experience and did some market research.
The more people he talked with, the more he found that other groups of people do this same thing. He even found that complete strangers in an airport will kill time between flights by making fun wagers over beer on any game that is on behind the bar.
“There’s no app [and] there’s no website. Every time anybody’s tried to do it, it always becomes real gambling [with] odds and point spreads,” says McCoy. With gambling, there is almost always the “house” that creates the odds, which are created purposefully in the house’s favor.
So in 2016, McCoy and his two co-founders, Christoffer Johansson and Michael Weber, created Betolio – a social, peer-to-peer betting app.
Through their research, they found that the U.S. laws against gambling are prohibitive to launching domestically, so they needed to look internationally.
While McCoy lives in Charlotte, Johansson and Weber live in Europe – in Sweden and Austria, respectively – where the market for betting on soccer (or football to Europeans) matches is massive. So, Betolio chose to launch its app overseas.
To launch a betting app in Europe, certain licenses are needed to operate, some of which are country specific. So, between licenses and legal requirements, it was fairly expensive to initially launch the app – to the tune of 200-300€.
Without that much money just laying around, the team looked elsewhere for funding. “We took the idea, wrote a great story, made a video and crowdfunded it two years ago,” add McCoy.
The three co-founders then quit their jobs in June of 2016. Over the course of the next year, they used the crowdfunded proceeds to build and design the first iteration of the Betolio app and launched in Sweden last summer.
Through Betolio, a soccer fan can place a bet on a live or upcoming game, propose it to specific friends, or post it socially to soccer fans anywhere.
“Our assumption was that [friends] would want to bet each other,” says McCoy.
After three months, they quickly learned that people looked at public bets the majority of the time rather than betting privately with friends. So they tailored the app to the bets made by any soccer fan across Europe. So, anyone around Europe – where Betolio is live – can take an available wager.
Of course, betting is fun, but it can be severely addicting. To keep the Betolio betting experience entertaining, while still socially responsible, the app has set daily and weekly limits on how much money a person can wager.
McCoy recently pitched at Pitch Breakfast as the team is raising money to renew its current licenses and to further expand within Europe. Their goal is to get into the UK, the largest betting market within Europe, as well as Germany, Spain, Italy and France, and to do so by the World Cup starts this summer.
As they grow, they plan on opening a European headquarters in London or Vienna. And if gambling were to ever be legalized in the US, the team would strongly consider a domestic headquarters in Charlotte.