8 Key Steps To Take Your Startup From Idea to Launch
Do you have a startup idea but don’t know where to start? Launching a new company can feel like an overwhelming project when you are still in the early stages. But if you break out all of the things you need to do to launch your startup idea into smaller steps, you will have a much better idea of where to begin and how to get started.
We recently chatted with co-founders Jake Benzaquen and Dean Sisun to learn more about their sports betting marketplace Prophet and they broke down all of the steps they took to bring their idea to fruition. Keep reading to learn the key steps they took from having the idea to preparing to go from beta to officially launching!
The Key Steps PROPHET Co-Founders Took To Launch their Sports Betting Marketplace
Prophet is the only secondary marketplace for users to optimally cash-out on their sports bets.
Co-Founder & CEO of Prophet
Jake graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2017. with a B.A. in human organizational development and a minor in corporate strategy. Prior to founding Prophet he was a financial and technology consultant at Capco.
Co-Founder & CFO of Prophet
Dean graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2017. with a B.A. in economics and a minor in financial economics and corporate strategy. Prior to founding Prophet he was an investment banking analyst at Hilliard Lyons.
1. Inspiration & Ideation
When I came up with the idea in college, I briefly looked into it and saw that there was one company that was doing it. After I glanced at this company, I quickly scrapped the idea. However, it wasn’t until Jake messaged me in August of 2017 that I started to get thinking again. He was learning about options during training, and he urged me to follow through with the idea.
2. Research Legality
Jake took the liberty of searching for attorneys to talk to about the legality of the idea. They advised us to look into launching our product in the UK due to more favorable laws. They referred us to a firm, who looked in depth at our business plan, later advising us that we can go ahead and apply for a remote betting operating and software license in order to legally launch this in the UK.
3. Bring On Support + Expertise
Shortly after this, Jake and I set out to find a CTO (using Upwork). Neither of us had much of a technical background, so we had our friend who is a frontend engineer at Hubspot screen the candidates for us. This three-month long process led us to our CTO, who joined full-time, Andrew Duck. Andrew was an absolute home-run; before joining Prophet, he founded a company called Audience Media in 2011 and sold it to Zinio in 2014, who made him their acting CTO while they had over 200m users. He was the CTO until 2017, where he then left to explore new opportunities with younger teams in the Western Hemisphere (he’s from Australia).
4. Research & Set-Up Platforms
As we were plodding along with the CTO search and legal licence application, we looked into the different third parties we had to integrate with in order to make Prophet function properly. We had to find a sports betting API, a KYC firm that did international work, a payment processor, development tools (Slack, Github, Jira, Auth0, etc.) geo-IP validation, and much more! This took a lot of time and effort to make sure we got our third-party providers right.
5. Acquire Trademarks & Patents
In addition, while all of this was ongoing, we set out to acquire trademarks in the US and UK (since we plan for US expansion shortly after the UK). My cousin is a trademark attorney who helped us out with all of the work here. Not only that, but he challenged us for months to come up with a good name. We didn’t come up with one until about April 2018, so once we came up with one, we went forward with the trademark process. Also, my cousin has many connections to branding experts and patent attorneys, so he referred us to a few of his friends who specialize in branding, and we spoke with a couple of patent attorneys. The branding guys did not work out, but they led us to Alex Griffin, our current designer. He has done an incredible job getting the look and feel of our platform just the way we want it. Also, the patent attorneys we spoke with told us we have a legitimate case for a patent in the US. Once we receive enough funding, we plan on applying for a utility patent.
6. Nail Down Branding
Jake and I had continued to come up with new ideas and designs for Prophet as all of this was going on, and Alex did an unbelievable job at executing it, all while keeping it on brand. Once Alex finished all of the designs, we went through them with Andrew, who then gave them to his front-end engineers. We began development in October (Andrew took six months to set out everything the right way, including breaking down the documents from the third party providers so his backend engineers can smoothly integrate them). Because he took these precautionary steps, we expect to have a beta in the middle of January 2019, with our expected launch date in February 2019.
7. Search For Funding
Right before we started development, Jake and I began to search for funding. This process is not fun pre-product and pre-revenue, let us tell you. For the last few months, we’ve been going to pitching events and meeting angel investors and VC firms. While this has been going on, we’ve been marketing our product as much as we could with the tight budget we have. We have been promoted on Twitter by many professional bettors, as well as bloggers and podcasters. We’ve been featured on two podcasts and brought onto those podcasts for interviews.
8. Prepare For Official Launch
Currently, we’re still less than two months from launching. We’re in talks with two of the top 5 podcasts in the UK about partnering with them as affiliates, We have signed up over 300 committed users to our waitlist. We have filed for our gambling licence with a firm who has never had an application denied. We are exploring partnerships with two prominent US sports betting companies, working with them to digitize sports bets from sportsbooks in order to link them to our platform. We’ve gotten our first commitment for funding, so after the new year it is full steam ahead to close the round.
Thanks Jake and Dean for sharing the steps you took to launch Prophet! (Want to learn more about Prophet? Check out our interview with Jake and Dean to learn more about the platform here.)
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