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Sports betting is a multi-billion dollar industry governed by complex regulations throughout the world, and those rules are often in a state of flux. Ralph, an American entrepreneur with a passion for sports, came up with the idea for a sports betting website at a time when betting was strictly regulated in the U.S. These regulations drove sports enthusiasts to offshore websites, and Ralph intended to capture a portion of that market with Duelo.

Technology Stack

How did he intend to do that? The platform he envisioned would allow users to compete with their friends in legal, peer-to-peer challenges where they could win real rewards without risking their own money.

In order to compete with offshore betting platforms where users could gamble actual money, Ralph knew he needed a platform that was:

  • Simple to use and navigate
  • Enticing—with real incentives
  • Gamified and sticky, to boost engagement and keep users coming back

When exploring potential tech partners to build the platform, Ralph was particularly impressed by Net Solutions. The team showed a willingness to dig deep to understand the ins and outs of the betting industry, and they weren’t afraid to ask questions that challenged his decisions and assumptions.

What followed was a success story with a twist. Just before the planned launch, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law restricting online sports betting. That event presented new opportunities, so Duelo changed its business model, forcing Net Solutions to adapt (see “The Twist” below to learn more).

We spoke to several companies before making a decision, and none came close to the experience we had with Net Solutions.

Ralph

Ralph

Duelo’s Founder Duelo
Building the Initial Platform

Building the Initial Platform

As mentioned above, when Ralph first approached Net Solutions, actual online sports betting was not yet legal on a federal level in the U.S., so Ralph commissioned them to build a platform that didn’t require users to bet real money—but still gave them the opportunity to experience the thrill of competing over the outcome of games.

The Net Solutions BA and UX teams worked alongside Ralph’s team to design a sticky, gamified, user-friendly platform that allowed users to:

  • Browse upcoming sporting events for specific types of sports
  • Challenge a friend (or multiple friends)
  • Easily create challenges using ready-made templates designed according to the rules and parameters for different types of sports
  • Grow their profile and tout their wins using a gamified system
  • Engage the community to make new friends

Receiving and Updating the Sports Data

A sports betting site relies on a constant stream of data about sporting stats and game results, which must be received and interpreted by the platform to identify the winners of each challenge. The sports data—a purely static, informational feed—came from a system called Donbest. Net Solutions created a parsing engine that allowed granular control over which data to import into the platform. That, in turn, enabled users to view information about upcoming events, and the engine would determine the winner of each challenge as soon as the Donbest feed provided the results of a given match.

Gamification via User Profiles

One key component of the gamification strategy was to provide each user with a dynamic profile that displayed their successes and incentivized future engagement. Duelo’s gamification engine prompted users to complete activities to advance their profiles to higher levels, just as they would in a video game. The engine kept track of their activities and when they met all the requirements, they would advance to the next level.

Net Solutions tied this data to a Hubspot-based workflow engine to ensure those events and activities triggered emails from the platform celebrating each achievement and guiding users to engage further. It also triggered alerts reminding users when an action was required on the platform.

Net Solutions were our do-all agency. We knew what we wanted and provided the direction and industry knowledge. They worked collaboratively with us to design a compelling product we were comfortable in taking live and then built it for us, providing support while continuing to develop it further.

Ralph

Ralph

Duelo’s Founder Duelo
The Twist: U.S. Supreme Court Shoots Down Sports Betting Restrictions

The Twist: U.S. Supreme Court Shoots down Sports Betting Restrictions

The platform was in active development when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting online betting on sporting events, leaving individual U.S. states to set their own gambling regulations. In fact, many states already had laws set up that would allow for online gambling in anticipation of the ruling.

Given the expanded possibilities, Ralph decided not to take the platform he’d been building with Net Solutions live, and instead create a new system that included the following:

  • Duelo would now allow users to access the platform from the website (the original platform was mobile-only)
  • The platform would allow open-for-all contests (as opposed to the peer-to-peer challenges originally envisioned)
  • Duelo would award users with real money when they made an accurate prediction.

These changes required Net Solutions to massively restructure the platform workflows, which in turn impacted the code already created for the initial version. Fortunately, Net Solutions had thought ahead by using a modular approach in the initial version, so they were able to repurpose the bulk of the back-end code to create the base for the new platform.

While they built the website, they also restructured the mobile apps to sync with the open-contests approach, leading to a much-anticipated and celebrated launch.

Going Live

Going Live

After a journey with twists and turns, Ralph ultimately found himself with a platform he loved—and it was well-received by the public. Early adopters rated the platform “highly intuitive” and easy to use, and the app received glowing reviews.

Shortly after launch, Ralph reintegrated the peer-to-peer challenges, allowing users to compete against their friends and other members of the Duelo community. The feature proved popular, resulting in a significant boost in overall engagement on the platform.

While Ralph originally intended to hire Net Solutions to only create his Minimum Viable Product (MVP), he quickly came to consider them an invaluable partner. He plans to continue using Net Solutions as an integral part of his core development team, and together they intend to improve the platform, expand the user base, and share Ralph’s passion for sports with the world.

The UX design they came up with has gained us great reviews for being intuitive. The platform itself worked very well and whenever we had any problems, the team was very quick in resolving things.

Ralph

Ralph

Duelo’s Founder Duelo

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