The Silicon Review
Colorcast knows a thing or two about fan engagement. In late 2020, the company launched a Social Sports Talk app that allows anyone, anywhere, with no equipment, to commentate on live sporting events. For the first time in sports history, fans get to choose the commentator they want to listen to. That’s right, no more Joe Buck. Colorcast provides broadcasters and listeners with stats, scores, betting odds, and other real-time contextual information about the game. Listeners can interact with each other and with the broadcaster via text chat. And, if a listener musters up enough courage, they can request to join the broadcaster on the “Hot Seat,” where they’re able to verbally interact with the broadcaster and share their hottest sports takes with the broadcaster’s audience.
But Colorcast’s social sports talk app is only the company’s first foray into the fan engagement space. The company is now pushing the envelope once again by making a bold move into the brave new world of regulated sports betting–with plans to develop a standalone product intended to even the playing field between sportsbooks and sports bettors. In furtherance of its mission, Colorcast has partnered with sportsbook juggernauts including FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, and PointsBet and is on track to obtain gaming licenses in more than half of the states that have legalized sports betting by Week 1 of the NFL season.
In conversation with Evan Kirkham, Co-Founder and CEO of Colorcast
Q. What do you think are the factors that contribute to your success?
First and foremost, we’ve spent considerable time establishing incredibly close relationships with our users. These personal relationships allow us to solicit and receive specific and honest feedback on a regular cadence. We listen to what our users like about our products, and more importantly, what they don’t like about our products. In combination with our track record of executional excellence, these tight feedback loops allow our company to iterate at a breakneck pace and deploy new features on a weekly basis. Of course, none of our success could have been achieved if it wasn’t for the strength of our team. Every member of our team possess complementary and non-overlapping skill sets. We purposefully avoided doubling-up on any one skill-set, any one opinion, or any one world view. Coupling this diversity of opinion about feature prioritization and deployment, marketing initiatives and execution, internal operations, external communications, and everything in between, with our shared vision of making sports more engaging for every fan in every context, is exactly why I’m confident in our teams ability to make thoughtful decisions and give our mission the best chance of success.
Q. Can you tell us in brief about your move into the sports betting space?
This question is particularly fun to answer because there was a clear “big-bang” moment. On January 9, 2022, the State of New York allowed the first legal sports wager. By the end of the month, the state was reporting that $1.6 billion of sports bets had already been placed and settled. The entire sports industry was put on notice: Legal sports betting transaction volume was already mind-blowingly massive, was here to stay, and would fundamentally change how fans engage with the sports, teams, and players they love. Our users were no different. We started receiving requests to “incorporate sports betting” into our social sports talk product.
To be honest, we weren’t sure how to respond. We assumed that we couldn’t legally facilitate sports wagers on the Colorcast app and were scared to death of competing against behemoths like DraftKings and FanDuel. But, after serious internal discussion and consideration, we made the decision to commit company resources and explore the industry more fully. Our mission: Focus on sports betting as a fan engagement tool and identify pain points that we were uniquely positioned to solve.
In less than four months, we interviewed more than 70 casual sports bettors, prospective sports bettors, sports betting sharps, sports betting affiliates, and sports betting creators, asking very basic experiential questions like “describe the last time you placed a sports bet,” “where do you go to validate your picks,” and “what was frustrating about placing your last bet?”
From those interviews, we generated roughly 100 problem statements; real-world and widely-shared frustrations. But, it wasn’t enough to know which problems existed, we needed to know which of those 100 problems were most acute. To accomplish that mission, we engaged in a “Customer Problem Stack Ranking” exercise and ultimately came up with a list of the 10 most acute problems in the industry. And guess what, they were problems we felt uniquely positioned to address and that allowed us to work with the sportsbooks, not against them.
The through-line between almost all of the most acute problems related to accessibility. Sports betting terminology was confusing. Bettors didn’t know where to find relevant data. Bettors didn’t know which “experts’’ to trust. Bettors didn’t know where to find the best odds. Bettors couldn’t define or execute on a specific sports betting strategy. Bettors felt tricked by the sportsbooks. And so on.
This was great news for use because driving fan engagement via broad-based accessibility had always been a part of our core DNA. We increased fan engagement for tens of thousands of fans by making the broadcasting booth more accessible. And, we determined we could increase fan engagement for tens of thousands of additional fans by making the sportsbook more accessible. Because, after all, our research showed us that “engaging more deeply with the game” was the number one motivation for placing a sports bet.
We found our “why.” We are compelled to innovate in the sports betting space because every fan deserves to engage with the game, more deeply, on an even playing field, and without asymmetry of information.
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
For our broadcasters, we are excited to announce that we have recently launched a feature that allows users to record their broadcasts and create a portfolio of work. This was the number one most requested feature over the last six months. We’ve delivered on that request.
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?
Absolutely! The future is bright for Colorcast and for all of our users. In short order, we will be launching a waitlist for our sports betting product with more information about the particularized feature sets. If you follow Colorcast on social media, have downloaded the app and have registered your account, or if you follow myself or the company on LinkedIn, you’ll be hearing much more about the waitlist and the betting product in the coming weeks. We couldn’t be more excited to, once again, be on the cutting edge of fan engagement. This is an exciting time for our company, our community, and our stakeholders.
Meet the leader behind the success of Colorcast
Evan Kirkham is the Co-Founder and CEO of Colorcast. Kirkham took home first place at the SXSW 2021 1-Minute Pitch Competition, is a thought leader in the social audio and sports betting spaces, and is an avid Dallas Cowboys fan. Before founding Colorcast, Kirkham obtained his Juris Doctorate from SMU Dedman School of Law and practiced commercial and securities litigation at the Dallas-based Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal. Kirkham is an adventurer, a hockey player, and a diehard Ole Miss Rebel. He spends his weekends exploring watering holes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife, Katharyn.