[toc]PVP.ME, the esports-only betting exchange startup that recently signed a sponsorship deal with Giants Gaming, announced it is seeking seed capital investment of up to €1m.
The company will use the funds to further enhance its technology and for a new marketing campaign.
Primary focus to be real money esports betting, for now
Formed in 2015, PVP.ME recently went live with its unique esports live-betting offer. Speaking to EsportsBettingReport.com, chief executive and co-founder Yury Kolesnik said the company already had pre-commitments totaling €200,000 for the new investment round.
He added that pre-seed funding totaling €150,000 came from a Russian business angel. A further €50,000 was sourced following the company’s appearance at the EiG Launchpad competition in Berlin last October.
Another esports betting company, Unikrn, recently hit the headlines when it announced it will be embarking on an initial coin offering (ICO) in September, allowing ‘investors’ to buy its Unikoin Gold token.
PVP.ME also has free tokens available on its site which allows players to receive credit by completing different actions.
Kolesnik said that his company might consider tying this virtual currency to cryptocurrencies via a possible ICO. But he admitted that was not the company’s focus in the immediate future.
“We are looking at the coins as a substitute for real money, while real money gambling will be our main focus,” he said.
“Virtual currency allows us to appeal to specific audiences and geography, where real money has its limitations. Our service is designed in a way that allows real money and virtual currency users to interact with each other, and our coins have fixed internal conversion rate to the real money, meaning that the value of the coins is not subject to inflation.”
Ironing out the delay issues
PVP.ME bills itself as a live betting offering. Kolesnik admitted there are issues around streaming delays for viewers on all the major streaming platforms. He insists PVP worked on a solution which lowers the risk of customers getting caught out, particularly when it comes to integrity issues.
“The delay in streams affects the viewing experience, but our pricing engine uses data from the sources with the lowest delay, so we try to mitigate these risks as much as possible,” Kolesnik said. “But the data integrity is a problem for any live betting company, both for bookies and exchanges. And with games played online, which usually have two- to five-minutes delay, insider trading is still a problem. We closely monitor the betting patterns of our users and investigate each specific case of possible foul play.”
PVP.ME says it has 6,000 punters playing on its site daily. Kolesnik is convinced the unpredictability of esports betting means that exchange betting is the best option for those keen on getting involved, citing the margin advantage.
“For a traditional bookie to be profitable given this uncertainty, then the only way is to raise margins which damages product a lot,” he said, suggesting the margins were much higher than with traditional sports.
He added that he is hoping that PVP.ME can also help expand the number of esports that are available to bet on.
“Currently over 10 video games can be called esports titles, with their competitive nature and audiences,” he said. “However only few of them are actively represented in betting and gambling services. Our mission is to allow betting on any competitive video game that is entertaining to watch and the exchange model is perfectly tailored for that.”
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Kolesnik is also convinced that offering an esports-only brand is the best option for appealing to the new audience.
“I believe that gaming audience is so different from traditional sport bettors in general, that the only way to properly appeal to their needs is being esports-only operator,” Kolesnik remarked.
He added that this should be reflected in “everything” that the website offering is about. This includes design, UX, products, and marketing:
“The gaming community is a very close community that loves projects helping the scene grow, but it is also quick to form a negative opinion about the companies trying to profit without giving back. We want to build an ecosystem where each party can benefit from each other, be it content creators, professional players or passionate gamers.”
Part of this can be seen from the company’s recent sponsorship of the Giants – now renamed the PVP.ME Giants for the rest of this year. The organization achieved second place at the ESL Madrid Masters tournament in early July.
Kolesnik said the Giants deal was one that he felt the company could not afford to miss out on.
“Our first region is Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, so having a partnership with leading Spanish club was crucial to get trust from both professional scene and gaming community,” he said. “We plan to bring a lot of new interesting content to our users as a result of this collaboration.”
Others, such as Unikrn with its deal with BIG, have gone one step further and moved to invest in the ownership of esports teams. Kolesnik believes this might be a route that PVP.ME will take in the future.
“Regarding the team ownership, definitely. Some of our company members have already been involved in professional scene as a players or team owners,” he noted.