SoBet founder Cooper Lycan was preparing last week for the first of 41 one-on-one phone calls. So he had places to be.
“I promised all of the influencers that I’d talk to them, and that I wouldn’t be late,” he told Sports Handle. “It’s been a crazy year for sure.”
It’s been 14 months since Lycan launched his SoBet online sports media platform, which has brought together 41 influencers — and counting — to offer sports betting advice. Wednesday, it is finally available for download via the App Store and Google Play.
When SoBet launched in June 2022, it did so with eight influencers, 300,000 people following those influencers, and a lot of hope. Today it has the previously mentioned 41 influencers and 1.5 million followers who can access 1,500 pieces of short-form content ranging from analysis to picks to podcasts. Lycan says SoBet added 8,000 unique paying subscribers over the course of its first year.
The platform last year saw what Lycan referred to as “straight-up growth” during the football season, which then leveled off but has remained steady since February. He’s hoping for another boost in users come September. The sell is that instead of someone needing to scroll through social media to find the best of the best in sports betting information and advice, SoBet has done the legwork.
“We’ve really just been aggregating these influencers and building a community,” Lycan sad. “But I think there are two aspects … the influencers and then also the users. We’ve been listening to the users about what they want to see on the platform.”
Being nimble has allowed for immediate change
While SoBet has been listening, it’s also been building its app. The company started with a web platform only, said public relations consultant Pawel Zoneff, because it “allowed us to experiment” and to be more “nimble” with changes or updates. Creating an app and selling it via the App Store or Google Play comes with its own set of technical requirements and guidelines, which in turn, will make it tougher to make changes quickly.
“I think it’s been an awesome process,” Lycan said. “Looking back, I didn’t know what I was doing. It was a good thing [Chief Technology Officer] Ron Reeves did. His plan was to build on desktop, and then it was like a digital bulletin board with eight people posting, and we’ve added a lot of things.
“When you look at the mobile app in comparison to the beta from last year, I think that is a testament to Ron and his team, and it’s only going to help the business. Everything that we have cleaned up or added has been people telling us what they want, so we’re hoping to reach higher numbers.”
The rollout is one day before Week 1 of the NFL preseason, when the Houston Texans play at the New England Patriots and the Minnesota Vikings play at the Seattle Seahawks, and a little more than two weeks ahead of the kickoff of the college football season.
Younger demographic a sell
SoBet prides itself on being able to reach a younger generation of sports bettor, and that reach resulted this year in the company’s first professional sports league partnership. The Professional Lacrosse League, similarly interested in growing its audience through a younger demographic, reached out and a deal was struck. Zoneff said three top SoBet creators provided video clips featuring man-on-the-street interviews, events, and other formats popular with Gen Z.
“It was a great proof point,” Zoneff said. “Basically, what we wanted to showcase to sports leagues is how you can reach a younger audience. … You have to meet people where they are.”
A little more than a year in, SoBet is bringing in revenue — it costs $9.95 per month to subscribe — and is hoping to reach profitability sometime in 2024.
So far, Lycan’s idea to take the guesswork out of finding the influencers and creators that best serve each sports bettor seems to be on its way up.
“People are coming to our platforms where they feel more engaged with our influencers,” he said. “When you’re looking at social media, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not because there are so many bots. So our platform enhances that relationship” between consumer and influencer.