Having made significant progress in Q3 2021 with a 46% increase in revenue year-on-year, Aspire Global is eyeing further expansion and has pinpointed the US market as a key territory for growth.
The company appointed Quincy Raven as its new Managing Director US earlier this year, tasked with spearheading the platform provider’s operations and replicating its European success stateside.
We caught up with Quincy to understand more about Aspire’s ambitions for the US, how its B2C divestment will benefit the provider’s long-term strategy and why its sophisticated CRM system AspireEngage is highly suited to the needs of US operators.
Congratulations on your new role, how are you settling into the business? What is your initial focus?
It’s been an incredible ride so far and it is amazing how quickly everything has taken off in the US. Since arriving at Aspire Global in the summer, the igaming and sports landscape has continued to accelerate. So many states, including Arizona, Connecticut, and Louisiana, have all embraced online gaming in that time period and this momentum shows no sign of slowing down.
Within a week of my joining, our formal commercial process in the states was in full swing and it has been non-stop since then. A lot of my interview process before arriving here involved me interrogating what the strategy would be for a European company coming into the US because a number of providers have done so with mixed results. It became clear very quickly that our views aligned perfectly as to how Aspire Global could make a big impact in the US with its platform offering.
We have seen brands enter the US for market access as a way to expand their own brand and technology utilizing existing casino skins. From a technology standpoint, we’re more capable than most in supporting that. However, when it comes to the operators, specifically tribal, that want to maintain and build their brand online, this is where we aim to be the go-to partner across America. We are all about taking the casino’s brand and making it all it can be without diluting the brand itself.
The US igaming market is growing at an impressive rate. What is Aspire’s strategy to position itself at the forefront of these developments?
Today, approximately 70% of the market is dominated by tier-one operators, such as Draft Kings and FanDuel, and the like. We’re focused on the remaining 30% of GGR and see considerable potential to earn business working alongside tribal operators. Our legacy as a B2C operator is a significant advantage across all regions we are active in, including the US. We understand the needs of the operators and it’s clear, in some cases, they are receiving inferior services on older technology and are crying out for more intuitive and localized solutions. Our PAM, CRM, and Managed Services solutions address all the pain points in this burgeoning market. More directly, the technology platforms we own have been tailors with the operator in mind.
Our CRM suite AspireEngage is a huge part of this strategy. A solution this elegant and easy to use doesn’t exist in the US yet. There are so many third-party plug-ins that operators need to work with to be able to acquire and retain customers to nearly the same degree as through AspireEngage.
It would be a great product even if it only acquired and retained customers, but it spans all our platforms, meaning we can create sports betting specific Sports betting promotions and igaming specific promotions with outstanding efficiency. Again, this is a great example of us identifying a gap in the markets we serve and building the best solution possible.
Our omnichannel approach is going to be pivotal in helping operators build their online offering and also attract customers back to their casinos and help represent them digitally. Part of this process will involve reassuring operators that they are not cannibalizing their own player base by doing this and instead, they are broadening their potential audience.
How is the US market different from regulated markets elsewhere that Aspire has been present in? How is this changing Aspire’s approach?
Quite a few operators have been caught out because they have invested in good solutions with European companies but with a time difference of eight or nine hours, making the services inadequate as well as short-staffed during peak US hours. Localization is going to be crucial to mitigating this pain point and not only from a time zone aspect. If a US player calls customer service, they expect to speak to someone well-acquainted with the market i.e NFL, NHL, or the PGA. Our managed services offering will encompass everything from customer services, CRM, trading and risk, AML & Fraud, etc. This effort involves bringing technical training teams over to support local, sports betting-savvy agents to bring them up-to-speed on all the markets that are important to the American bettor.
Aspire has a lot of experience in this, as we operate in over 30 regulated markets. Our centrally managed, flexible, platform was originally built to cater to our own operations in different jurisdictions and now informs our service to our partners.
In what ways, if any, will the selling of the B2C segment benefit Aspire’s approach to the US? Does this provide greater investment to penetrate the US?
Firstly, it removes a potential channel conflict for some of our prospective partners. We’ve often been asked about whether we operate B2C sites but can now categorically demonstrate that we are purely a B2B company with B2C heritage. Operators need to be open about their business and pain points for us to be able to provide our service effectively. That understandably becomes more difficult if it’s in the back of their mind that we could move into that market in the future in a B2C capacity. That has never been the way Aspire operates, but this move has eliminated the worry factor.
Secondly, the B2C divestment presents us with additional working capital to invest in establishing our position in the rapidly growing US market. On top of that, the added resources will serve to bolster our managed services offering, which is essential to securing and growing our in-depth understanding of US player behavior.
What can you tell us about Aspire’s US roadmap for 2022?
We’re not in the business of dipping our toes into the water in an opportunistic sort of way as some providers have done. We are here to make a real impact and grow with our partners.
This time next year we will be fully staffed, including US product and compliance leadership alongside localized managed services teams.
We are evaluating partnership opportunities on a state-by-state basis. What is encouraging is that it doesn’t look like players are intimidated by the idea of picking up their phones and playing online. For instance, in Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa, and other jurisdictions the market is not big, but we are seeing some impressive uptake there and a lot of other states are showing similar potential. We aim to become a major part of the overall experience and are working diligently to achieve our goal of being the go-to partner for operators looking to grow their brands.