Meet Shah Makes a Bold Gamble With BeBetta – A Free-to-Play Fantasy Sports Betting App

Meet Shah, Founder and CEO of BeBetta
Meet Shah, Founder and CEO of BeBetta

Can a sports betting platform redefine the gaming landscape, engaging millions of users without involving real money in bets, while still generating healthy revenue? Meet Shah, the visionary founder and CEO of BeBetta, a groundbreaking fantasy sports platform from Ahmedabad, seems to have cracked the code of money-free sports betting.

Through BeBetta, users can place bets on their favourite teams, players, and sporting moments using their proprietary token system called BetCoins and collect rewards and benefits in exchange when they win. The app launched in September 2023 and has 1.02 million users already, and it is poised to add another 15-20 million users by the end of 2024.

In an exclusive interaction with Team ProdWrks, Meet Shah states that fantasy sports betting is growing rapidly and is at the intersection of adoption and evolution.

“In every industry, there is an adoption curve, evolution curve, and maturity curve. In India, fantasy sports betting has had good adoption and is now at the intersection of adoption and evolution. BeBetta is trying to evolve that space in an entirely new format of free-to-play sports betting, which is reward-based and community-based, without involving money,” says Meet.

Keep reading to get insights into how Meet is building a free-to-play sports betting app utilizing the power of personalization, gamification, and community, and changing the public perception of sports betting in India.

Changing Indian Public Perception on Sports Betting

India is a country where when there’s money associated with sports, people perceive it to be gambling, addictive, unethical, or financially risky. One of BeBetta’s primary goals is to alter the public perception of sports betting in India by removing money away from the equation.

Meet explains it with an anecdote, "I'm a huge football fan. I did my Master's in the UK, where there's a big betting culture. I experienced that people feel more invested in a sport when they bet on certain things during a match. But I don't like the idea of betting with money, and many others in India don't prefer it either. So I wanted to explore how the passion for sports can be multiplied without betting with real money."

Meet Shah emphasized that betting on BeBetta is not transactional; it is all about enhancing the sports-viewing experience.

“BeBetta is actually an abbreviation for be better. Sports is not transactional in nature. The established fantasy sports betting apps have created this image of putting money where your mouth is, and only then are you a true sports fan. We are trying to change that notion. Sports is the biggest religion in the world, and we preach that by allowing users to challenge friends, engage in banter, and increase their knowledge. Money should not be an entry barrier for that.”

While building BeBetta, Meet extensively researched alternatives to traditional betting methods and monetary rewards, and change the narrative on established sports betting norms. His research led him to several key insights into the psyche of the users of fantasy sports platforms, which became the foundation for BeBetta.

Money Isn’t a Major Motivator in Sports Betting

One of Meet’s fundamental discoveries from his research was that money was not a major motivator for people involved in sports betting, and most users of fantasy sports platforms do not actively bet with money!

“After the COVID-led boost in online gaming, there are 250 million users today in fantasy sports in India, and the number is expected to reach 350 million users in the next three years. Our observations showed that 80% of these users, roughly 200 million, are playing for free on fantasy apps like Dream11, MPL, etc.”

Meet’s research also revealed that the thrill and engagement of fantasy sports weren’t solely tied to monetary bets but also included social bragging clout and community involvement.

“The idea was that if 80% of the people are playing for free, what is the motivation for them to go and spend even 10 minutes in sports betting? Is it the thrill of it, is it the simulation bit of it, or is it social bragging and entertainment? We realized it was all of the above and never about money!"

These realizations led to the introduction of BetCoins – an in-app currency that users can earn by performing specific tasks within the BeBetta app and also by participating in curated social activities outside the platform, which is soon to be launched.

"With BetCoins, money will never be the entry barrier for any user. You can come to BeBetta and play completely for free via the digital token system we have created. In return for these tokens, we give rewards, discounts, and offers from our brand partnerships. It's very simple.”

Meet reiterates that his commitment to staying clear of real money-based betting and introducing BetCoins is more than just a business decision but an ethical one, too.

“Betting essentially means that you're making money when someone else is losing. It doesn’t sit right with me, ethically. We were approached by a few sports betting companies who wanted to create a funnel where users can redeem 1000 BetCoins for Rs. 100 as a sports bet on our app. But that's just the start of a vicious cycle that we will never come out of once we enter. So we decided from the first day that BeBetta would never involve real money for betting.”

BeBetta’s Three Pronged Monetization Strategy

However, you cannot run a successful startup based on community goodwill alone. So Meet employs a multi-faceted approach to app monetization, distinguishing BeBetta in the market.

He says, “Our typical audiences are GenZ and Millennials. Statistics say that 85% of the users under 25 have a second screen open while watching their favourite sport. Since BeBetta doesn’t collect money for bets from users, our currency is actually the time spent by users on our app. That's the most important thing. So that's where our monetization model is. The better the product we create, the better the engagement we create, and the more we can earn.”

Further explaining BeBetta’s monetization strategy, Meet said the platform integrates in-app advertisements, in-app purchases, and a brand partnership model to drive revenue.

1. Reward-Based In-App Advertisements:
BeBetta leverages a rewarded ad model where users earn rewards like BetCoins by watching ads. These coins can be exchanged for coupons and discount codes. This model ensures a win-win situation, as users gain rewards, and advertisers benefit from increased viewership and engagement.

2. Microtransactions and In-App Purchases:
Instead of relying on subscription-based models, BeBetta focuses on microtransactions within the app. Users can unlock and engage with additional sports for a minimal fee of 10 to 20 rupees, enhancing their experience without committing to long-term subscriptions or burning their pockets.

3. Brand Partnership Model:
BeBetta’s brand partnership model revolves around awareness and hype campaigns, collaborating with brands for new product launches, festival offers, and purpose-driven marketing. This approach aligns with BeBetta’s user base, offering an engaging platform for brands to connect with their target audience.

Achieving Organic Growth at Scale

Since its launch in September 2023, BeBetta has achieved remarkable milestones within a short span. The platform garnered over 1 million downloads, with 734,000 registered users. The average daily active users (DAUs) range from 1.2 to 1.5 lakhs, showcasing sustained engagement.
Meet says that when it comes to user acquisition and engagement for a fantasy sports platform, there are two challenges that must be solved: product and distribution. Speaking about the product challenges he is currently solving, Meet Shah says that BeBetta is actively looking to employ gamification strategies and building personalized experiences by delving deep into the psychology of user engagement.

“Right now, we have launched the first version of our app, which is a concept. In the next 12 months, we will make the platform’s user experience more personalized, socialized, and gamified. We are building features like head-to-head challenges, peer-to-peer betting, and community-based betting to enhance the social and gamified aspects of BeBetta, making sports engagement an immersive and interactive experience.”

Talking about distribution, Meet pinpoints the ‘marketing trap’ that other fantasy sports betting platforms have fallen into by spending millions of dollars on user acquisition which is not a sustainable model in the long run. He explains it with a hypothetical scenario.

“Let’s say our target for the next year is to reach 20 million users. If we focus only on paid user acquisition, the cost per user would be around Rs 20, and our marketing budget would shoot up to Rs 40 crores. Out of the 20 million, only 10%, or two million users, would generate revenue for us by watching in-app ads. In this hypothetical model, it would take six months to break even on just the marketing spends if these two million users generate a million dollars a month by watching ads. Additionally, the industry-standard user churn rate is 95% for gaming platforms. If you think about it, the unit economics don't work when you focus only on paid acquisition.”

To counter high cost of user acquisition, Meet Shah has adopted a balanced strategy combining paid user acquisitions with organic referrals supported by the product’s user experience.

“We have decided that paid acquisitions must not exceed 25% of your total user acquisition. The remaining needs to come through referrals. We are building head-to-head challenges where a user can invite their friends for a bet or challenge into the platform. With 75% of my users coming from referrals, the Rs. 40 crores of marketing spend to acquire 20 million users will also come down by 75% and I can break even on my marketing spend in the first month. Thinking along these lines, we become more conscious of our decisions.”

Meet also has a solution to tackle the 95% churn rate in the gaming sector by employing a community-focussed strategy with in-app challenges and referral invites.

“We need to make the community more gamified. Platforms having an in-app community increase retention and engagement, and also eventually reduce the overall user churn. That is what will drive engagement and retention while lowering your overall CACs.”

The Future of Fantasy Sports and Betting Platforms

Meet expects that the recent 28% GST on online gaming will benefit BeBetta as more users switch to their platform, moving away from competitors using money-based sports betting.

"The 28% tax does not apply to us since we are free to play, and our revenue comes from advertising. The increase in taxation, essentially, becomes a killer for all the loss-making startups in the fantasy space which involve money in online betting. It's a good thing for us as it reduces the options for users to switch to if all these apps are shutting down."

Meet also acknowledges that it takes a lot of funds to build a platform like BeBetta, get brand partnerships, and get exciting personalities into the platform. They have raised Rs 5 crore funding so far and are looking to close another round of funding between USD 5-10 million, which they would used for scale the product and expand its user base. Meet Shah’s immediate plans are to make BeBetta more personalized, socialized, and gamified.
Meet’s personal goal for BeBetta, however, is to build a ‘Bettaverse’ for simulated betting using the magic of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“When we were kids we had crazy fantasies about sports. What if we could create a simulated space where the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian Cricket team under Kapil Dev goes head to head against the 2011 Champions under Dhoni? What if we could place bets against such fantasies? My macro goal is to take every single data from previous sports encounters, analyze data of every player against every ball on every condition and against every opponent, and let the algorithms do the rest. Simulation algorithms with AI and ML are one of the things I want to do in future for sure, and I am constantly looking out for it."

BeBetta’s strategic timing, launching during a cricket-heavy calendar in September last year, allowed the platform to gain initial traction. However, the team is focused on ensuring sustained engagement beyond cricket seasons. They plan to add new sports, including UFC, F1, and NBA, to diversify user interests and prevent the platform from becoming a seasonal business.
Meet Shah and the BeBetta team are not just reshaping how Indians engage with sports – they are redefining the very essence of sports-centric platforms, making it about passion, community, and an unmatched thrill that goes beyond traditional betting. BeBetta is not just an app; it’s an immersive journey into the heart of sports enthusiasts, where every user is invited to “be better” in their sports engagement.

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