An app that encourages social betting among friends is revolutionizing the betting industry - Interview with Cosma Wolkonsky, CEO & Co-Founder Yepp
Yepp is the app developed for sport fans, by sport fans.
Cosma Wolkonsky, CEO & Co-Founder Yepp, has dedicated his entire career to the sports industry. After a short professional sports career, Cosma has turned to studying and earned two majors: in international Business in Munich, and in Sports management in London. Since then, he has worked with two of the biggest sports media companies on the market, DAZN and IMG.
What’s the story behind Yepp?
Yepp was developed for sport fans, by sport fans. Yepp’s founders have a deep passion for sports and have increasingly felt that the market misses an app that truly focuses on the needs & wants of a true sport fan.
The essence of sports is to watch and enjoy it together with your friends. A sports event is a unique occasion which brings fans together and lets them forget about anything else for the duration of the event. It creates an atmosphere where best of friends can have heated debates, embrace each other, and celebrate together. Engaging in a sports event alongside with your friends, is usually an abundance of emotions such as joy, defeat, distress, and camaraderie. Watching sports with your friends, also comes with a dose of healthy competition: who supports which team, who knows more about the sport itself, and who manages to guess the final result before the match has even started.
Yepp’s founders set out on a mission to create a platform that facilitates these emotions and the common attributes surrounding the life cycle of a sports event. An app that combines betting on sports among friends, while offering tools for finding where to watch almost any online or offline sports event, does not currently exist on the market. Users can get the full sports betting experience, but directly with their friends, eliminating the bookkeeper as the middleman.
On Yepp, the bet is won by either you or your friends. The house never wins, they just facilitate the betting process. Taking the negative stigma out of the traditional way of betting and allowing sports fans to do it with their friends in a fun, safe, and simple manner, is something Yepp’s founders are very excited about.
What problem does Yepp solve and how would you say it relieves “pain” from your customers?
Over the past decades, the traditional sports betting market has got the reputation of being nontransparent, impersonal, and having the intention to pull money out of sports fans’ pockets. Individuals have little possibility to feel the thrill of betting without betting against the “house”. Users are sold on the idea of spending their money in order to receive a big pay – one day – from the betting operator, but most users just loose money.
The pure essence of a sports wager goes in hand with a sporting event, in a safe and fun manner. Sports betting manages to keep somebody more engaged in the event and this is a good thing for sports. However, if it often results in losing your money against the house, it can quickly turn into an unhealthy, repetitive cycle.
We believe sports consumption and betting should be social. The thrill of the competition should not be against the “house”, but together with your friends. Offering sport fans a tool through which they can place a friendly bet against each other, on anything they want - be it real money, or a couple of beers - allows them to be in full control and enjoy the friendly competition. In an increasingly interconnected world, we offer friends and communities a simple and ultra-engaging way to enjoy sports together, no matter where they are.
Who benefits the most from your app? Who are your customers?
Our customers are avid sports fans who enjoy watching a match together with their friends, out in town or at home.
Our customers are not necessarily passionate about betting the traditional way. However, any sport fan that has ever watched a sports match with their friends, has probably engaged in a friendly sports wager in one way or another. Yepp facilitates them to do it, in an extremely simple way. Additionally, they can even place much more complex sport bets (not only the “who wins?” type), on any number of games or competitions.
Our customers are predominantly male sport fans, between 18 and 45 years old, living in large urban cities, typically in cities in which there is at least one large sports entity, with a big local fan base.
What's happening in the industry in which you are activating? What are the key trends?
In the recent years, digitalization penetrated both the betting operators but also, more importantly, sports media & consumption. Sports fans are looking for new ways to engage with sports and with each other, and keeping sport fans engaged throughout the whole length of a sports event has become a critical task for the industry. Users are increasingly more distracted with much shorter attention spans. If there is a match in which a fan has no personal stake, they are less likely to be very engaged by the event. In response, the industry is trying to progressively engage sport fans, and the major players in the industry are searching for ways to make their product more social and community oriented.
Additionally, sports betting is becoming increasingly regulated and strict, responsible gaming sanctions are being implemented. This compels the market to adapt and find new ways in which sport fans can bet on sports, in a safe manner.
How has your experience impacted the traction of Yepp?
We have learned and developed significantly in the past two years since the inception of the company (in its current form). We have developed an app that adheres and is compatible to all strict gambling regulations, while still simple and fun to use.
After our soft launch during the EURO 2021 we have collected user feedback, constantly. Feedback is at the core of our company. Our app is for the users so we have to be in permanent contact with our user base and improve our app’s UI/UX based on their opinions.
One challenge for our product is that we are too excited and add many features (all crucial!) into one app. This can complicate how the user navigates through the whole app. However, we have a very talented UI/UX and tech team working continuously to improve the usability of the app while implementing user feedback.
Where do you see Yepp and your business in 3-5 years? Any potential exit scenario in mind?
In 3-5 years, we see Yepp maintaining the same core value proposition: being a comprehensive platform for fan engagement and sports consumption between friends. We think that in this timeframe we can become a central part of the industry and serve as a way for individuals to enjoy sports together, but also for brands and organizations to bring sports directly to the consumer.
In the same time-frame, our mission is to significantly change the way the betting market operates and how sport fans engage with each other. We think traditional betting is here to stay, however we also believe that we can be the driver for creating a whole new niche in the industry: truly peer-to-peer social betting.
We believe that Yepp will be a prime candidate for being acquired by a strategic player in max. 3-5 years, a key player in the industries we are looking to disrupt or complement. These include traditional betting companies, sports media companies, and brands that have a high degree of sports affinity.
What makes Yepp so special? Why should investors choose you?
At this point in time, Yepp is uniquely positioned in the sports betting industry, somewhere in the middle, in-between traditional betting companies, sports predictors, and fantasy sports players. We integrate core essentials from all these sectors into one comprehensive user experience. Our app covers the full fan engagement cycle and offers a mechanism through which users can make simple or complex sports bets, directly with each other. Yepp has a complete and fully functional product with numerous opportunities for building communities, which are an uncovered & significant gap in the current market.
Our Team has a proven track record of creating and understanding a successful business, our founders offering a mix of business experience and young & fresh vision.
Paul Radu has over 26 years’ experience in business and advertising, partner of a local group of international advertising companies with a turnover of over €50 million and more than 200 employees. He has co-founded Yepp out of his true passion for sports.
Cosma Wolkonsky has dedicated his entire career to the sports industry. After a short professional sports career, Cosma has turned to studying and earned two majors: in international Business in Munich, and in Sports management in London. Since then, he has worked with two of the biggest sports media companies on the market, DAZN and IMG.
Around the founders, Yepp has gathered a team that is full of passionate sport fans who share the vision of bringing an amazing sports app to all sport fans, across the world.
By Roxana Cicea
PublishedDecember 03, 2021