Roulette Cricket Scores €50,000 in Vodafone Mobile Clicks

As I wrote yesterday, last week I was a judge in the final of Vodafone Mobile Clicks in Amsterdam, where €150,000 in prize money was up for grabs to award the best mobile internet startups around.

The second prize was won by UK newcomer, Roulette Cricket, who walked away with €50,000.

Roulette Cricket started life as a way for the cricket-loving founders to decide the next person in their party to queue and pay for the beers at the matches they attended together. In those days, they marked up the cricket field on a paper plate and they would bet each other where the next ball would next cross the boundary. Realising they may be on to a winner, the team converted their rudimentary sketch into a successful iPhone app and will launch on other platforms shortly, including Android.

They hope that Roulette Cricket might be the first app in a portfolio of sports games that use the mobile to enhance live sports, with either fun wagers or betting for real money – they’re planning to license their games to the major betting companies. As such, they may be the first wave of a phenomenon christened “second screen gaming”, which I have to say is rather confusing as a term, as we’ve had the mobile called “third screen”, “fourth screen” and indeed the “seventh media” in the past and “second screen” seems to invite the “make up your minds, guys!” type of criticism from users and pundits alike.

Leaving that small bugbear aside, there were a couple of aspects to this service that I felt were noteworthy.

Firstly, they’re in a classic startup scenario where now the game is released, they’re going to need to run very, very fast to stay ahead of the competition. The team claim to have patents in place to protect their IP, but the way that that game is played is that you have to wait for someone to infringe the patent and then take them to court. Many years later and after much money has been spent on legal fees, you may just win and get damages.

It’s actually a better strategy to out-run and out-innovate competition, so that they have to work with you – or buy you. So I hope the team are running very fast with their €50,000 cheque and looking for more expansion funds, as I write.

The second area I think was very interesting about them and yet almost came as a throw-away comment in their presentation (actually, it was in response to a question that I asked) was how they sourced their content. In this case, their content is ball-by-ball commentary, in Tweet like length, including details of any boundary hits, to trigger the bets. This can be sourced professionally, but actually any match attendee could provide this information and get paid for it – or not, as I suspect many would quite like to do it for free, in return for some minor acknowledgment and the odd free ticket.

I wonder what other businesses could look to source information or content along these lines, possibly using the akvo validation tools that I wrote about yesterday?

The final area that I like is the whole concept of using a mobile to enhance another experience. In Cricket Roulette’s case, it’s not just about adding some fun and value to attendees at cricket matches – but for people watching from their TV at home. Clearly, if there’s a betting-for-money element to it, it’s only going to work for live broadcasting, but that shouldn’t let it limit our thinking.

As a few examples, the gaming-for-fun idea could be used in many non-sporting contexts, from predicting which Strictly contestant will be going home that show to what colour dress the winner will wear to how many time Brucie utters his famous catch phrase.

This could indeed be a rich seam for someone to mine. Providing we get away from that dreadful second screen nomenclature.

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