SportsHero Is Betting On Southeast Asia’s Mobile Gaming Market
From the creators of TradeHero comes a social sports prediction app
Dinesh Bhatia is a master of reinvention.
Having lost a sizable amount of money on the stock market in the past, he set out to democratize trading by creating TradeHero, a stock-market simulation game that allows users to buy and sell stocks using virtual cash, and follow the stock tips and real-time trades of high-performing users, or “trade heroes,” for a fee of $2 a month, a percentage of which goes to the company.
Created by Bhatia and Dominic Morris, TradeHero was launched in 2012 and has over 8 million users to date. After launching TradeHero, Bhatia then asked himself: “Can this phenomenon be applied to other verticals? And I thought, the only other vertical this could be applied to is sports.”
Thus was born SportsHero, a social sports-prediction platform that lets people predict the outcome of matches, connect with fellow sports fans, and join contests where those with the best predictions win.
SportsHero is itself an iteration of an older app. It was previously known as FootballHero, and had amassed a following of 250,000 users. “We’ve just reincarnated the app as SportsHero,” says Bhatia. “We [now] have tens of thousands of users, but the app is just one month old.”
The app is available as a free download wherever the iOS and Android app stores are available, but Bhatia says the first phase of their business will focus on the Asia-Pacific region. “Where we think sports prediction does work, Asia is very high on that list. In terms of a tipping culture, someone giving someone else hints or tips or advice, [Asia is] rated very highly.”
Plus, there’s huge growth potential in the region, especially in Southeast Asia, for mobile games. According to a report by business intelligence outfit Newzoo, Southeast Asia has one of the most exciting mobile-gaming markets in the world, with 126 million gamers in a population of some 620 million, and $1.1 billion in revenue in 2014. By 2017, it could be worth $2.2 billion.
And then there’s China, where betting is an obsession.“We haven’t launched in China yet because we don’t want to make just a literal translation of the app; we want a very cultural translation,” says Bhatia. “When you look at localization, it’s not just a language thing. It’s also a cultural translation.”
An engaged user base
The app may be just a month old, but so far, it looks like their formula is working. “Users are spending an average of about 13-14 minutes per session on our app, which is fantastic. That's what we’re really, really excited about. They get online, they have virtual dollars, they predict who the winners are going to be, they play some of the games that are on our app, and they leave and come back again,” Bhatia says.
But he’s quick to point out that they’re not in the business of betting. “When you watch a game, part of the fun is the excitement of the game but also being able to predict, from a skills-based intuition, who you think is going to win, what's going to happen next. Betting is taking that and putting money down on that.”
Instead, SportsHero rewards users with good prediction records with prizes, typically sports merchandise such as signed jerseys; social recognition in the form of community ranking on a leaderboard; and the natural high of knowing you're right: “If you can predict what's going to happen, our body and our mind rewards us with a serotonin rush, with a neurotransmitter reward. That unto itself is a reward,” Bhatia says.