Wagr has launched its social sports betting app that allows fans to bet against others in their community, rather than the house, after raising $12m in a Series A funding round.
Based in Nashville, Wagr is the first social betting operator to receive a license in the US and is the ninth licensed operator to publicly launch in Tennessee.
Wagr boasts an app with an “easy-to-use interface” that handles payments, keeps track of wins and losses, and provides leaderboards. Its in-app features allow non-wagering users to stay connected to the latest games or follow bets made by other Wagr users.
While traditional sportsbooks effectively bet against their users to generate revenue, Wagr charges a flat and transparent 5% transaction fee based on betting volume.
CEO Mario Malavé and Chief Product Officer Eliana Eskinazi founded Wagr after experiencing the limitations of betting products that would always nudge them to bet more. Meeting during their time at Harvard Business School, the duo started Wagr in April 2020 to provide “an intuitive and inclusive experience built for all sports fans”.
“Although sports betting is undoubtedly one of the largest consumer markets to open up in recent US history, we’re still in the very early innings of product development,” said Malavé.
“There are many fans who love sports, but for various reasons find current betting products complex, intimidating, or in some cases, even predatory. We built Wagr to give them a better experience, one that engages them in a more personal way and connects them with the sports communities around them.”
Looking at the Series A funding round, Wagr says the $12m will allow the company to accelerate product development, continue expanding its team, and cover licensing and launch costs in multiple markets.
Participating investors in this round include BITKRAFT Ventures, Greycroft, HBSE Ventures (a venture fund created by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment), The Kraft Group, Pear Ventures, Alexis Ohanian’s (co-founder and former executive chair of Reddit) Seven Seven Six, and a group of high-profile angel investors.
Wagr also counts Gary Loveman, retired Chairman & CEO of Caesars and member of the Boston Celtics ownership group, as a longtime advisor.
“Sports betting is a huge and growing market, but it’s still missing the mark for a sizable part of the sports audience,” Moritz Baier-Lentz, Partner at BITKRAFT Ventures.
“Today’s app experiences are clunky, complex, and primarily marketed to men. Mario, Eliana, and the Wagr team have built a unique product that’s social, intuitive, and transparent.
“We’ve seen community-centric financial products — Robinhood, Coinbase, and Venmo, to name a few — gain huge popularity in recent years, and we believe sports betting could be the next market to benefit from an experience that’s truly designed for fans—not to maximize profits for the house.”