PUNTAA'S OFF-MARKET PUNT PAYS OFF

Written on the 26 July 2016 by Laura Daquino

PUNTAA'S OFF-MARKET PUNT PAYS OFF

IT all started at a Brisbane bar for wagering startup Puntaa - but not in the way you might expect.

Puntaa co-founder Damon Oudejans, who was never a gambler, was out drinking with friends near the Brisbane River when a soon-to-be investor stopped him and handed over a business card.

"The guy ran up to Damon and said he had heard about Puntaa and wanted to take Damon for coffee," says fellow Puntaa co-founder Nicholas Heaney.

"At the time, we were talking with an investor we thought we were likely to go with but keeping our channels open.

"That first connection ended up being Altor Capital, the cornerstone of our seed funding round.

"In addition to always keeping your options open, I think we learnt from that experience that it helps to be branded - Damon was wearing his Puntaa shirt at the time."

Puntaa's recent raise totalled $750,000. With this capital, the startup developed the capability to release version 2.0 of its app in late June 2016.

The peer to peer social betting app, that allows users to bet cash on custom wagers with their friends, is experiencing a 7 per cent compound growth week on week since launching October 2015.

In the two weeks since Puntaa relaunched, essentially built from the ground up after an overhaul of the MVP, Heaney says the startup has done 40 per cent of the bets turnover it did in the three months preceding.

The wagering app was created by non-technical founders and is targeting non-gamblers. Heaney, a former management consultant at PwC and lawyer at McInnes Wilson, didn't even have gambling apps on his phone before setting up the business.

Puntaa's success wasn't really a sure thing. Just like the chance meeting with Altor Capital would prove, sometimes the best fit is the most unassuming.

"We see ourselves quite differentiated from what's out there at the moment, where most are pure transactional platforms," says Heaney.

"We are more of a social platform and wagering is an element of that. We do have traditional user that enjoy sports betting, and we form a lot of engagement around that, but the product is opened up to an entire different subset of consumer. We are very focused on who is the core customer - people like Damon and I who didn't even have gambling apps on our phones before this but would always have a bit of a go with friends."

Heaney says the platform pays dividends in healthy competition, comradery and connection - things by and large missing from other wagering platforms. Wagering is a $4 billion market in Australia.

"It brings people together and is actually functioning a lot like a social network where people chat with their friends back and forth about bets," he says.

"It's not about taking money off your friends. We surveyed 200 customers in our early days, and the first problem we discovered was that people weren't getting paid for their wins. With the update, 98 per cent of bets are now being paid out."

Puntaa takes 5 per cent commission on successfully paid out bets. The raise has supported the growth of the team, which in addition to co-founders Heaney and brothers Damon and Jordan Oudejans, now has three engineers working from Brisbane.

"The biggest challenge was not having a technical cofounder. We're building a software business at the end of the day, and we didn't hire our first developer for 13 months," says Heaney.

"We've had three rebuilds as a result. It was a long journey that could have ideally been shortened if we found that really talented technical cofounder to begin with. When we were working with a developer in Estonia, we may have got a response every three days. Now we can bounce ideas with someone in person and push out to customers in that same period."

Pictured L-R: Jordan Oudejans, Damon Oudejans, Nick Heaney.


Author: Laura Daquino Connect via: Twitter LinkedIn

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