Philadelphia tech startup Epoxy.ai aims to sync TV with sports betting
Chris Reynolds and Jason Angelides developed the TV remote gadget that has brought in-depth sports stats – tracking game momentum and player stats – to millions of Xfinity subscribers.
Now, less than two years after leaving management positions at Comcast Corp., they want a slice of the online sports betting action.
Reynolds and Angelides have launched a start-up, Epoxy.ai, in Berwyn which aims at personalize the betting experience for 75 million sports fans who experts say could place more than $20 billion a year in wagers as more states legalize online sports betting.
Epoxy’s first idea: to use a mobile phone’s microphone to determine which match a sports fan is watching and synchronize the match on television with a recommended bet. Reynolds said a sports bettor would accept the sync through the terms of service of the company that licenses Epoxy’s technology. Epoxy’s first customer is betParx, which is a sister company of Parx Casino.
“Amazon, Instagram, Spotify, these businesses are all about knowing who you are and putting the right things in front of you,” Angelides said. “It’s an expectation and the sports media and gaming industry, while recognizing the need for this type of experience, have struggled to support it for a variety of reasons.. First, because they are extremely dispersed technologically, as they are deployed in all states. Number two, they’re not tech companies.”
In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, paving the way for the online sports betting gold rush. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and 21 other states have legalized online sports betting. Pennsylvania sports fans placed more than $6 billion in online bets last year.
Experts estimate that the national volume of online sports betting, or the “inning”, will grow from $25 billion to $30 billion per year as more states legalize online sports betting.
Chris Grove, co-founding partner of Acies Investments, a venture capital fund for sports, gaming and technology start-ups in Las Vegas, called Epoxy’s founders “very talented.”
READ MORE: Comcast buys sports news service OneTwoSee
But Grove thinks sportsbooks have more immediate problems to address before thinking about the innovation Epoxy offers., including launch sports betting in new states, register sports bettors more efficiently and manage deposits.
“It’s easy to be overly optimistic about the pace of innovation in regulated sports betting,” Grove said. “It’s a bit like talking about putting solar panels on the roof before you put the roof on.”
Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, which owns Parx Casino in Bensalem, is entering a first run with Epoxy under Matthew Cullen, who was hired four years ago. He leads the 100 people of Greenwood digital gaming operation that includes overseeing the company’s online sports betting in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan. Cullen plans to expand sports betting to three more states. Parx handled $147 million in online sports betting between last July and April, according to figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
“Personalization is the next big thing,” Cullen said, because “people will want to bet on what they’ve bet in the past, or what they like, or what they like to watch.” But, Cullen added, echoing Grove, “it’s still early days.”
Cullen’s team will assess whether Epoxy leads to greater bettor retention, affects the amount of money a bettor bets and leads to longer engagement time at betParx.
The NFL football season boosts TV sales and ratings and, according to the numbers, online sports betting. Online sports betting in Pennsylvania jumped 65%, to $527 million, from August to September 2021, according to gaming table data. September is the start of the NFL season. The month with the highest dollar volume in online sports betting in Pennsylvania was January, the month of the NFL playoffs, with $737 million in wagers.
Cullen said the plan was to launch the Epoxy app on the betParx betting app for the NFL season.
Angelides said Epoxy would be ready. ” This is what we do. Sport waits for no one. The game must continue. »
As to whether sports bettors would be comfortable with a cell phone microphone listening to them, Angelides said Epoxy’s research shows that more than 90% of basic and casual bettors say they “like it when the products they use adapt the content for them so it’s easier to find what they want and discover new things.
Reynolds, 47, and Angelides, 54, have settled into post-Comcast life. At the media and telecommunications giant, they worked on the 37th floor of the Technology Tower, the tallest building in Philadelphia.
Now they are renting the second floor of a quaint office building on the east side of SEPTA station in Berwyn. It’s an easy commute for Epoxy employees who live in Philadelphia. The startup employs 12 people, mostly a team that followed Reynolds and Angelides from Comcast. The company also calls on six contractors.
Angelides said the plan over time is 20 to 30 full-time employees.
Epoxy hopes to raise $7-10 million in venture capital this summer and has filed patents on its technology through Philadelphia law firm Morgan Lewis. The co-founders see Epoxy’s technology as offering three services: synchronization between television viewing and betting, visualization of sports data and betting recommendations.
Angelides and Reynolds met in the 1990s at Traffic.com in Chesterbrook, a real-time traffic information service for radio and television stations. Traffic.com, bought by Nokia, harvested traffic data from road and highway sensors and sold it to TV and radio stations. The company taught Angelides and Reynolds the importance of presenting real-time information to the public.
At Traffic.com, they thought of other areas where real-time information could be useful. It was at the beginning of applications for mobile phones. When the pair realized that sports fans were always looking for sports stats on their phones, they developed a business to access and view real-time box-score sports data. Fans could consume the data while watching matches.
“The idea was that if you were a sports fan and you sat there and watched the game and a player comes along and you don’t know who he is or what his stats are. How many home runs What’s going to happen next? What’s the most likely outcome? You have to go through the partitions of the boxes? It was a nightmare,” Angelides said.
In late 2011, Angelides and Reynolds launched OneTwoSee to provide instant sports data. It was their first start-up. Over time, OneTwoSee developed the platform to show up-to-the-minute sports stats on cable TV and integrated the service into Comcast’s X1 platform. Comcast saw sports data – accessible via a button on the TV remote – as a way to make its huge investment in sports rights more attractive to its subscribers. In 2016, Comcast purchased OneTwoSee for an undisclosed price.
Within Comcast, the OneTwoSee team bonded together and helped deepen the sports platform for the Olympics.
Reynolds and Angelides said they had a great experience at Comcast and left on good terms. But they were restless and saw online sports betting as the next big thing.
Angelides announced to Comcast that he was leaving in November 2020. Reynolds did the same in mid-2021. About his decision to leave Comcast, Reynolds said that “once you start building things, it’s hard not to.”