An interview with our CEO
We have all been locked away in isolation for some time now but the wheels have still been turning and lots of work has been done. So, I thought it would be a good time to have a chat with our CEO, Paul Cobley, to see what's been going on.
Q. Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to speak to us.
A. No, thanks for having me. It's good to get out...kind of...
Q. How has lockdown been for you?
A. Not bad all things considered. I have lots of things to keep me busy and I have a really happy home life so I'm lucky there. I feel for all of the people out there that are not so happily married. That must be torture.
Q. Absolutely. So, Shiggle. The Social Betwork. What is it all about?
A. Shiggle is a social network and peer-to-peer betting platform. On face value, it's pretty simple. Betting against your mates is something that we've been doing since the dawn of time. That's why it seems so simple.
But, we see Shiggle as more of a social network than a betting product. There is so much more to it than just betting.
Social media gets a bit of a bad rap lately but nobody can deny that it is here to stay. Human beings are digital animals nowadays and we are spending more and more of our time online.
I think it's critical that we create new online communities to replace the real world equivalents that are getting left behind.
So, our business is actually social networking and gambling is like our secret sauce.
Q. Where did the idea come from?
A. I've been asked that question before and I'm not really sure, to be honest. I think it started from a throwaway comment made by a trader.
We were working on some referral functionality for a sportsbook. In a sportsbook, most bets just go through. The business sets some limits and if your bet falls within those limits it goes through. If you ask for too much or too little then you get rejected.
However, bookies like to have a bit more control so if you are within a certain threshold then your bet gets referred to a trader to make a decision.
Obviously, all traders are different and they have different risk tolerance levels, so depending on which trader is on duty, your bet may or may not get through.
Anyway, in one meeting this particularly arrogant trader threw out a comment like "Just refer everything to me and we'll make a fortune". Implying that he is some genius trader who never lost a bet in his life.
He was sacked about 3 weeks later but I started thinking about ways for players to choose who they bet against. If I know that that guy is working from 3 to 6 on Saturday then that's when I want to play.
It's changed a lot since then obviously but I think that's where it started.
Q. What about the name? Where did that come from?
A. It came quite quickly actually. When we were coming up with ideas there were 2 things I wanted to keep in mind.
I didn't want anything to do with the word "Bet".
There are about a million other apps and sites out there with bet in the name. BetYou, BetMe, WeBet, Bet3, 888Bet... We didn't want to get lost in that crowd.
Also, betting is almost a dirty word for a lot of people and rightly so. I know we are still "betting" but we are doing it differently and I wanted to distance ourselves from the whole stigma attached to traditional gambling.
I wanted to highlight the fun side of the product
Our core values are fun, fair, and transparent. We are not really targeting the hardcore gamblers out there. We want people to have fun and socialize. So, it's more for shits & giggles than cold hard cash.
So, shits & giggles... Shiggle. Boom!
Q. As you say... it does seem like a really simple concept. Why hasn't it been done before?
A. Lots of people have tried.
I found an old (failed) patent application that was based upon SMS technology. They were trying to do peer-to-peer betting before we even had smartphones. I'm sure there were web-based attempts even before that.
More recently there are other peer-to-peer betting apps out there. Most have failed but some are still going.
Q. So what makes Shiggle different?
A. Everyone else has hit some or all of these problems.
They didn't have the tech
People were not ready
They had little to no gambling experience
They were too niche. One sport. One market
They missed the point
1. They didn't have the tech
I'm obviously talking about the older products here. Smartphones seem old hat nowadays but they haven't always been around.
Now we have the tech. ✅
2. People were not ready
Remember life before Facebook? It sounds crazy now but not so long ago people were just not into each other as much as they are now.
The way we welcome connection nowadays would have been blatant harassment back then.
Now people are looking for more and more ways to connect online. ✅
3. They had little to no gambling experience
The gambling sector is heavily regulated and it is an extremely competitive market. The big boys have a lot of spending power and the barrier to entry is really high.
If I wasn't so entrenched in the gambling world already I would never dream of entering this market. There are much easier markets out there.
I think a lot of people had the idea to start a little betting app without realizing what they were getting into.
Personally, I have been in this game for about 18 years. I have worked for software suppliers, large international operators, startups, and even professional punters.
Then my partner, Paul also has about the same amount of years experience as me but he wears a more financial hat. Plus, he's also had a lot more experience on the media side which helps. ✅
4. They were too niche. One market. One sport
Everybody loves a bet on the football so it's an obvious place to start but so many other apps offer just football and the Win/Draw/Win market. Maybe total goals.
I'm sure they all had plans to add other sports in the future but they never got that far. When traditional bookies are offering hundreds of markets on every sport in the world, it's a bit crap to offer one.
Shiggle allows players to bet anyone, anything at any time. We show you some suggestions to get your creative juices flowing but it's really up to you. You can bet upon anything you like from sport to tv or from food challenges to work objectives. It's totally up to you. ✅
5. They missed the point
This last one is the main one for me. When I say that they miss the point I mean they see that peer-to-peer is a better idea but they just offer the same thing that the bookies offer.
They miss the opportunity to offer people something new. Social betting implies social interaction yet these other products offer no social interaction at all. They are just betting apps.
Deep down everybody appreciates that they are the big underdog when they play against a bookmaker or a casino. No operator would ever survive if they consistently offered out fair bets. Commercial gambling is inherently unfair. Deal with it. Pun intended.
Now, a lot of these p2p betting apps just allow you to assume the role of the bookmaker. The problem is that its still an unfair shitty model. Except now, instead of a bookie offering you an unfair bet with shitty odds, now it's your mate offering you an unfair bet with shitty odds. Nice. Thanks, Jeff.
In Shiggle you decide what you want to bet upon, how much to stake and who you bet against. If you don't like a bet you are offered then just ask for a change. Have a conversation (social interaction) and agree upon a bet you are both happy with. ✅
Then there is the entertainment value that Shiggle provides. As more and more people come on board, the more entertaining and engaging the product becomes. ✅
Q. How does Shiggle make money?
A. We don't currently. We don't have a gambling license yet so Shiggle is free to play. We are seeking investment at the moment to take it to the next level.
There are ways that we could monetize it now but with gambling regs being so sensitive we would rather play it safe until we have a license.
When we get the license people will be able to play for real money and then we will take a commission on the bets.
This is the big difference between us and traditional operators. When you bet against a bookie it is in their interest to have some sort of edge. We take no side so we are completely impartial.
Q. Where do you see Shiggle in five years' time?
A. Five years? Wow. A lot can happen in five years.
I think VR will be huge in the next few years. There are already some exciting projects that allow people to watch live events in VR. The idea of sitting in a stadium with far-flung friends is amazing.
And it's not just sporting events either. Imagine hosting your own casino night on the moon! Invite all of your mates to play some blackjack or poker or whatever.
This lockdown has caused a massive boom in video chat but nobody has been able to replicate the ambiance of a public gathering yet. We are still limited to one person talking at a time. When they crack that I think we will see a real explosion of virtual events.
Back to non-virtual reality... The long term vision for Shiggle is to become the global marketplace for peer to peer betting in a world where peer to peer betting is the only type of betting there is.
There is just no need for bookies in their current form. We see the bookie of tomorrow as content providers and entertainers rather than the professional gamblers that they are today.
I'd also love to take Shiggle into the real world at some stage. There are loads of sports bars popping up now like Bounce and The Flight Club. This fits really nicely with the Shiggle mindset so some sort of Shiggle bars would be really cool.