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Gambling & Gaming Innovation Wins Big At WHLAbs
by Startacus Admin
William Hill Celebrates Top Gaming and Gambling Innovation Startups
Last year we were intrigued to learn that the folks at William Hill were teaming up with corporate innovation specialists ‘L Marks’ to deliver a global gaming and gambling technology accelerator based in London and focused on growing the most promising innovations within these industries.
On Thursday 14th of Jan the W H Labs accelerator culminated at a showcase event hosted at The Trampery in which the finalists from the programme demoed their innovations and went head-to-head to be named overall winners and be awarded £150K as well as lots of their support
We caught up with event attendee Nikhil Obhrai who is the community manager of OpenPlay, a unique sports marketplace to that connects sports facilities to individuals who want to use them.
The WHLabs Showcase
“On Thursday evening, I was lucky to be invited to the WHLabs showcase, hosted at The Trampery, Old Street, the hotbed of UK innovation. WHLabs is an industry-first accelerator programme run jointly byWilliam Hill, the UK’s largest bookmaker, andLMarks, who help bring the startup and corporate worlds together. The scheme offers seed money alongside an intensive 12-weeks in their incubator. From this five startups were chosen to attend the final.
The finalist line-up included Asylum Labs (creators of the Wild Party Bingo app), Streetlike (IoT rewards through digital signage), Skillzzgaming (combining gambling games with skill), Winkapp (creating URLs that bridge offline and online media) and BetGame (bringing social betting to popular console and PC games such as FIFA). The high selection criteria was obvious, as all of innovative ideas had me addicted to their demos, to the extent that I had to be torn away.
However, I have to admit that I did have a favourite and they turned out to be the eventual winner. Congratulations to Doug Ward, David Carter and the team behind Bet Game. Their unique eSports product allows gamers to place a bet on their favourite games with anyone online. A heads up to all FIFA 16 players out there, theBet Game app will be live sometime in March initially for this game, with others to follow.
LMarks definitely deserve a round of applause for playing such a key role in facilitating a scheme like this. Startups are usually full of people with vision and ambition but often lack the knowledge and contacts to turn their idea into a reality. The investment given and the seed money is really only part of the story; the mentorship, business advice and quick access to market that come with accelerator programmes are the reasons why startups compete so furiously to be part of them. By linking these innovative ideas with the corporate powerhouses, the best of both worlds can be combined to create something that truly changes the way we live. William Hill also deserve a mention as I do not know of too many large corporations who would partner in what they would see as a risky venture. However, I’m sure they are overjoyed that they made the decision to do so.
So after making most of the drinks and canapes on offer and embarrassing myself with a selfie alongside Sir AP McCoy, I headed home. This morning I handed in my resignation to my boss Sam at Openplay and started practising FIFA 16. Bet Game is going to turn me into a millionaire!”
Check out the launch video of WH Labs
Winner Doug Ward of BetGame was delighted to have been named the overall winner of the programme and said “Our product is looking to heighten gaming’s competitive element but with a fun and simple way to prove yourself against your friends. It was fantastic that the William Hill team fully embraced this vision and helped develop our ideas over the course of the accelerator programme.
During this time the quality of support from our mentors has been outstanding, enabling us to speed up our product development significantly so that we are now in a position for a full commercial roll out of our platform”
Crispin Nieboer the Interim MD of William Hill Online was very happy with the way the company’s first such accelerator had went so successfully, he said: “The programme has been very rewarding and provided a great opportunity to work with engaged, enthusiastic and innovative start-ups.
With such initiatives, we really wanted to actively seek out innovation and help bring those ideas to commercial fruition, rather than waiting for this technology to appear a few years down the line. BetGame is a worthy winner of our first accelerator programme, providing a unique opportunity to disrupt the booming eSports market, and we are looking forward to working together.”
Thanks for telling us all about the event Nikhil, and best of luck with OpenPlay!
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Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.