Operating as a tech company, signing Jay Jay, and that ₦39.9m payout: The story of BetKing’s journey to the top

Godfrey Elimian
BetKing's journey to become Nigeria's top betting platform
Gossy Ukanwoke, MD BetKing Nigeria

In August 2021, sports lovers were relishing the start of another European football season and Cristiano Ronaldo was linked with a return to the English Premier League. However, among Nigerian fans, one of the biggest news was the story of a user who successfully turned ₦19,410 into ₦39,986,267.01 on BetKing.

For many years now, the betting industry in Nigeria has played a role in restoring financial hope and minimising the citizens’ hunger. While there are several reservations towards gambling as a vice, BetKing is one of the online sports betting platforms in the country that provides a platform for gambling to be a fun and exciting form of entertainment for its users.

BetKing is a leading Nigerian gaming and online sports betting brand famous for its quick payouts, high odds and bonuses, and affiliation with Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha. The platform also takes the security of its customers very seriously, deploying sophisticated & up-to-date security measures to keep users’ personal information out of the reach of cybercriminals.

While several betting platforms have operated in the Nigerian market for years, the winner of the ₦39.9 million ticket with Coupon ID 7EVZ-6ZHUN-2-68ZS had a total of 25 selections on his ticket, combining games from the major leagues (EPL, La Liga) with games from less popular leagues from Bolivia, Slovakia, Finland, Estonia, etc. and his victory restored a certain kind of hope among Nigerian punters.

“More than anything, we are here to deliver value to our customers. Our new brand message speaks to “That Feeling”, and we want to be enablers of positive impressions for our customers around the country, Gossy Ukanwoke, Managing Director of Kingmakers Nigeria, said when congratulating the winner.

Many punters on the streets of Nigeria and social media have since rushed to benefit from the platform, even expressing hope to “win some money” from Jay Jay Okocha – the brand’s ambassador wrongly misconstrued as the platform’s owner as he appeared at several events and featured in many creative advertisements promoting the brand.

This ingenious strategy of signing a player considered one of the greatest in Nigeria’s history is just one of many factors that have contributed significantly to the company’s rise to become one of the top betting platforms in the country. In a recent interview with Technext, Gossy Ukanwoke disclosed that signing Jay Jay as an ambassador was done to build customer confidence in the company.

The strategy of having Jay Jay as our brand ambassador played a very important role for us as a sports betting business, because football is at the heart of sports in Nigeria. It helped build a lot of affinity for the brand because people who were curious about Jay Jay wanted to know his involvement. So that built the interest, and that interest translated into people joining the platform, which then translated into customers.

Since he was a trusted person, that also translated to the trust on the platform, which is vital for an industry like the betting industry in Nigeria which thrives on trust.

Gossy Ukanwoke, MD, KingMakers, Nigeria
Operating as a tech company, signing Jay Jay, and that ₦39.9m payout: The story of BetKing's journey to the top

But getting customers to sign up is not even half the work; the business has successfully capitalised on that trust by providing effective service delivery, timely payouts, and utilizing a national agent network.

Furthermore, the company’s commitment to social responsibility has made it one of the few betting companies for Nigerians that actively supports the community.

According to Gossy, users will always return when people trust that the platform can pay them their money. So, the trust doubles up when they can match the experience with the expectations of the platform in the first place.

We are ensuring that we have the best agent network in the country, and that comes from our investment in the network, the commission structure that ensures that our current agents are well paid for using the brand and trading on behalf of the brand. We are also ensuring that we are helping them deal with a couple of economic headwinds that they are feeling to ensure that run a smooth network“, he says.

Gossy Ukanwoke has played a pivotal role in BetKing’s success in Nigeria as the brand’s Managing Director. He started his entrepreneurial journey at 19 when he founded his first business, I-Qube, which provided government technology solutions, including – intelligent toll & transport management, surveillance Systems, Explosive Detection and RF Jamming Solutions and Parking Management systems. Since then, he has co-founded Nigeria’s first online university, Beni American University, was the chairman of EduTech, and is now the managing director of BetKing Nigeria.

On this episode of Founder’s Spotlight, Goosy Ukanwoke, the managing director of KingMakers, Nigeria, and the founder and CEO of Beni American University, shares with us, his journey to the top, Betking’s operations and brand strategy and the many successes and challenges involved in running a betting platform in Nigeria.

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The BetKing brand

BetKing was launched in Nigeria in 2018 and started purely as a sports betting brand new in the market. The brand has also grown beyond sports betting and has expanded its reach under KingMakers. In that short time of operation, the company has established itself as one of the most recognized sports betting brands in Nigeria.

Operating as a tech company, signing Jay Jay, and that ₦39.9m payout: The story of BetKing's journey to the top
Gossy Ukanwoke, MD KingMakers, Nigeria

Gossy says part of the company’s growth process is identifying opportunities beyond betting. He says;

“We have identified other opportunities for business beyond just sports betting. We are looking for opportunities in gaming which is an industry we play in. We launched SuperPicks in partnership with SuperSport in South Africa under the KingMakers brand.”

In Nigeria, over the last five years, we have grown to over 200 people working in business, and we have put our online platform and presence in retail which we run through an agent network, he added.

Of course, it is no mean feat to successfully compete with betting platforms that have operated in the country before 2018. Gossy says the significant factor that sets BetKing apart is the platform, perhaps, sees the business differently from the way other people see it.

“We see BetKing as a technology company providing services to our customers, which just happen to be in the gaming space, and that has changed the way we see, run and invest in the business.”

“A very good example is when we launched, we came in heavily on our products to have the better product in the market. Then, we invested quite heavily in our branding, ensuring that the brand connects to the market segment that we want the brand to connect to.

Citing an instance, he says in 2021, the BetKing brand went through a total rebranding which also birthed the KingMakers brand. “We were going through that transition of just being a sports betting company only as BetKing to becoming KingMakers, that will have an interest in gaming in general.”

That was also layered with our investment in our people as well, making sure that we have the best of people who are working with the business to drive the vision, run the products and connect with the customers.

Gossy Ukanwoke, MD KingMakers, Nigeria

BetKing has also been successful partly because of the very passionate people, passionate partners and agents “who wake up every single day, get to it, make a good trade and bring that connection between the love of sports that you see in Nigeria to how people can engage with that love of sports.”

Operating as a tech company, signing Jay Jay, and that ₦39.9m payout: The story of BetKing's journey to the top

Challenges so far in the industry

Nigeria is a fertile market for gaming due to its rich footballing heritage and the healthy sports culture of the youths. However, one constant among industries in the country is the many challenges companies have to deal with to scale and become profitable.

Reinforcing his remarks, Gossy noted that since the company first considers itself a tech company, the challenges it faces are what every other tech company in the country faces.

“One such is internet penetration, ensuring that the company has enough internet coverage to provide services that the customers want. The second prevalent issue is in digital financial services. As a tech company, again, you need stable payment channels and of course, stable distribution of payments.

On the non-tech side, Gossy says that because the industry is relatively new, there is still a lot to learn both on the customer and the regulatory sides. There are “challenges in having to do a lot of education on the customer side, the team side, and the regulatory side.”

There are also challenges related to customer identity as a business that relies so much on KYC. However, the company continues to invest in customer education and commercials to promote user education to ensure customers are abreast of the brand and the industry.

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Operating as a tech company, signing Jay Jay, and that ₦39.9m payout: The story of BetKing's journey to the top

Handling technical issues like payouts

One common technical issue among betting platforms is the no or delayed payouts for bets won or deposits and withdrawals problem. For BetKing, though, technical issues are problems that come up occasionally due to downtimes and breaks, but that also reinforces the need to put an eye on the platform’s maintenance and provide a robust customer response team available every time of the day.

There are also payment challenges which could be internal or external because you’re not providing payments yourself, and you have to rely on other partners to do that. So that in itself is one of the biggest things that we have to deal with. But for the customers, it doesn’t matter to them whether it’s one partner or the other partner, all they want is that you pay their money because you have traded with it.

So that’s the more recurring technical challenge that we face. From time to time, you always have how sometimes technology will have its failures, which is why we have a customer service team that is available by phone chat, email, and support customers at any time of the day when they are having any issues.


Watch the full interview by clicking on this link:

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