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Bede Gaming: taking on the big boys

| By Stephen Carter | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Bede Gaming's commercial director Ross Haselhurst speaks to Hannah Gannagé-Stewart about its growth strategy and potential to disrupt the established order in the platform space

Emerging platform provider Bede Gaming has helped deliver stellar digital growth for Rank’s online bingo and casino properties since completing the migration in March of last year. Commercial director Ross Haselhurst speaks to Hannah Gannagé-Stewart about Bede’s potential as a disruptive force among its more established competitors

Newcastle-based Bede Gaming now has its sights set on lottery operators and the North American market in 2018, commercial director Ross Haselhurst has told iGaming Business.

The platform provider, which houses the IPS stable of bingo and casino sites, announced its arrival as a significant player in the B2B space in January 2015 with its major partnership with Tier 1 Rank Group. Since the migration completed in March 2016, Rank has posted increasingly impressive digital growth across its Mecca bingo and Grosvenor casino online properties, up 19% in the 16 weeks to 15 October of this year.

In November, Bede confirmed its upwards growth trajectory with an appearance in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 ranking of the fastest growth tech companies in Britain, also announcing a platform deal with giant South African casino and resorts group Sun International.

After consolidating that forward momentum this year, Haselhurst describes himself as “bullish” about the company’s prospects, predicting significant growth over the coming 12 to 18 months.

“As a platform, we’re vertically agnostic and obviously the big market that everyone wants to get into is lottery and if we can disrupt lottery as well as we have casino, that’s great,” Haselhurst explained.

Flagging up potential regions of interest for the firm at the forthcoming ICE Expo in February, he added: “There are areas of the globe that don’t know as much about us [as Europe], so we feel we could probably do a bit more to expose ourselves to, for example, North America”.

Haselhurst joined Bede as head of platform in June 2016, before becoming commercial director and part of the executive team in August this year.

A disruptive force
As a relative newcomer to the market, Haselhurst has a unique perspective on Bede’s potential as a disruptive force among some of the more established and, in Bede’s view, archaic competitors.

“I’m genuinely very bullish about 2018,” Haselhurst said. “2017 was a bit of a consolidation phase for us, it was important that we got our current customers advocating for Bede and we have done a lot of work to get that flat and get them happy and now 2018 is about putting our money where our mouth is”.

As commercial director it is his role to secure incoming business and ensure the business has the infrastructure to cope with what is set to be a period of growth.

“We’re already have about six to nine additional teams planned in the budget, maybe even 12 – so we’d be doubling our engineering capacity, over the next year. It depends on the things we’re hoping to land,” he explained.

Having taken on multi-brand clients, like Rank, Bede has started to restructure its engineering teams to make them more scalable in future.

Rather than having technical expertise sat in silos, teams of around six people with expertise across the breadth of what Bede do have been set up.

Haselhurst admits it has been “a challenge” to develop a structure that can cope with the anticipated scale of the future business.

The killer application
“I firmly believe we’ve cracked it and shown great progress. Feature teams is our big killer feature. Basically it’s cross-functional teams,” he said.

“Originally, the expertise was building the various component areas, which was very common for tech businesses. There were wallet experts, to handle transactions in and out, bonus experts, who dealt with the bonusing, the payments guys did security and authentication, and the front end – and delivery – was broken out into components”.

Under the old system the expertise was there, but there wasn’t the same ability to deploy it holistically to a new project or client.

“The good thing about that is that when the project’s done the team actually gets the credit for the whole project, not just one little bit of it,” he explained.

“We have six teams now and the perfect way to scale that is add teams as and when the work demands it. That’s the vision”.

In the pipeline
As the ink dries on the Sun International deal, Haselhurst told iGaming Business there is a growing pipeline of new business poised to come over the line next year.

The larger operators can take a few months to migrate to the platform, and many months to agree contracts with – Haselhurst said the Rank and Sun International deals entered negotiations at around the same time, despite the more than two-year gap between their being announced.

Start-up clients can be up and running on the platform within weeks, although Haselhurst said there were not many of these to go after, particularly in highly regulated markets like the UK.

“I love start-ups because you’ve got carte blanche on how you can help – they’re few and far between because it’s a tough market,” he said.

Having established the new teams, Haselhurst said his priority now is to continue to build word-of-mouth support for the platform among clients.

“We want to secure the customer as our advocate. That’s our main goal. If you crack that it’s not about how much money you’re going to get off them. Make them love you and they will be nice about you,” he said.

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