With a background in software development, working for start-ups, large corporates, the public sector and one of the world’s largest online betting companies – it’s no surprise that Matt Hegarty has found success that focuses on his experiences.
Back in late 2018, it all started in Matt’s own words “by speaking with compliance professionals in the gambling sector, to try to understand the kinds of issues they were facing”.
He soon saw that Player Protection was becoming an important issue for gambling companies as they were coming under increasingly closer scrutiny to ensure that they took steps to prevent their customers losing more than they could afford.
Matt’s research led him to conclude that there was a gap in the commercially available software market for something designed to help the Safer Gaming teams fulfil their responsibilities for player safety. Hence, the arrival of Playervis just over two and a half years ago.
Short for Player Visibility, Playervis is a web-based app designed to enable Safer Gaming teams to manage their player protection. Easy to ingrate with existing systems, not only does it take pressure off a company’s compliance staff, it also saves time and effort in tracking problem gaming – something that’s been in the spotlight in recent times.
“It all started by me producing a demo” states Matt, “and then a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and I was able to gain interest and on-board the first customers in Spring 2020.”
With a varied role, including being the lead developer on the product, as well as speaking to potential customers and following -up with sales and on-boarding, it is clear that Matt was determined to make Playervis work.
“It’s fair to say that Playervis is a very niche product, so there are a relatively small number of companies operating in this space at present. The product is well-suited to making the Safer Gaming teams manage their workloads and become more efficient.
“I work closely with the customers to make sure that the product is the right fit for them.”
What sets Playervis and Matt apart from many competitors is his use of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s Let’s Do Mentoring programme. Matt had already met his soon-to-be mentor Jeremy Stinton at a previous company, who knew that Matt was starting a software business and offered to mentor him.
“It was a pretty easy decision to make”, admits Matt.
“I knew that Jeremy had been successful in running his own business, and that he had a lot of experience in sales with B2B products, so I jumped at the chance of having Jeremy as my mentor.”
With a track record in helping businesses grow, Jeremy’s experience ranges from co-founding a successful digital video marketing agency taking it to acquisition before working for enterprise technology platforms looking to grow and scale. Currently, he is driving UK market growth for webinars/video marketing platform, Twenty Three.
With particular expertise in sales, customer success and marketing, complemented by experience in operations and product, Jeremy himself experienced mentoring that he himself calls “invaluable”. Therefore, Jeremy was very keen to ‘give back’ to others through mentoring.
When asked what he thought Matt’s strengths were, Jeremy said: “Well, Matt comes with first-hand insider experience of the online gambling world in which he is operating. He is one of those rare people who is both very strong technically, with a senior software development background, but he also has the ability to build rapport and talk the client’s language.
“As a result, he has executed a text-book product development: He has created a valuable, scalable technology solution to a genuine and widespread problem within his market. As we know, starting a business is extremely tough, but Matt has the drive and perseverance necessary to keep going and continually evolve his sales and commercial skills.”
Through their Let’s Do Mentoring sessions, Matt has set key targets. Founding a business can be a lonely experience and so both agreed early on that the most helpful forum for Matt would be a series of informal chats, in which Jeremy acted as a sounding board for his ideas, concerns and barriers.
“Jeremy and I tend to meet on an ad-hoc basis. Pre-COVID, we were able to meet in a coffee shop for an hour or so and I would send Jeremy a summary of any developments”, states Matt, “and during the meeting, we’d chat about strategy, and what to focus on next. Obviously that has changed, as has so much since the pandemic started. Our meetings have become less strategic and more specific over time. This is because the product and company have been maturing as we’ve gone on.
“The initial main focus was based on driving revenue and keeping pushing forward to secure the crucial early recurring revenue sales that would underpin Playervis and ensure its financial viability.”
As the product matured, Jeremy was able to help Matt with specific questions related to onboarding the first customers, and now he has secured valuable contracts which will secure the business going forward.
“Developing a software business is a tricky process, so having Jeremy’s help early on was very valuable. He was someone who I could bounce ideas off, and he would set me straight if I was misguided about something.
“It was vital to be able to speak with someone who has trod the same path before.”
Luckily, the pandemic has not affected Matt and the company too much, as all dealings with customers have been remote. Indeed, as Matt says, “the product has been beneficial for the customers during the pandemic, because it has made it easier for their teams to work remotely.
“At present, our focus is on continuing to develop the product and to ensure that it gives value to our customers.”
It’s clear that Matt’s expertise and drive allied to Jeremy’s experience and business acumen has ensured that Playervis has made considerable strides since they teamed up for Let’s Do Mentoring.
Explaining the support that the programme provides to Staffordshire companies, Jeremy said: “Well, there is a large failure rate for start-ups in the first year, so the odds are almost always stacked against small business owners from the start.
“There are so many demands on new business founders. It’s rare that people come equipped with all of these skills to succeed. The Let’s Do Mentoring scheme gives founders free-of-charge access to a wealth of business experience to help plug knowledge gaps and provide an often needed sounding board. Even when a business owner has vast experience, mentoring can still be valuable in increasing their odds of success.”
Are you an SME based in Staffordshire that is looking to grow your business? Or is your business facing certain problems, issues or challenges? The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce’s Let’s Do Mentoring programme provides Staffordshire businesses with fully-funded mentoring from experienced business Professionals to help businesses grow and succeed.
Interested in Let’s Do Mentoring?
For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01782 202222