- Insight: You can gain valuable insights by studying successful strategies in international markets before launching your business.
Monday, December 25th, 2023
Val C. Martinez started her entrepreneurial journey at university. While studying for her degree in economics, she set up a jewelry production company in Italy with sourcing operations spanning India and China. She took a 15-year hiatus from entrepreneurship to work for Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s most prestigious banks. Banking is notorious for being a male-dominated field, but she thrived in the environment. After moving to the US, she recognized a market opportunity. She merged her experience in entrepreneurship with her successful track record in a male-dominated industry to create Betting Ladies an online community dedicated to female bettors. Check out our case study to see How Val Started.
HSS: Can you provide a brief overview of Betting Ladies and why you decided to become a founder?
VM: By birth, I'm Italian, and I also hold British citizenship. I spent 15 years in London in the financial service industry. In both countries, sports betting is legal and has been for quite some time. It's kind of second nature in the everyday society there.
I moved to the US five years ago and the market was opening up. The Brits did it in the UK market, the Italians did it in the Italian market, and I know that it's just a matter of time before things in the US will explode especially with online offerings. I noticed that states were starting to approve online prospecting and I predict gaming will be legalized in more states in the coming years. I saw the market opening and of course, when a new market opens it targets men. That's 70% of the market. I noticed that all the offerings, both in terms of content (video, written content, and products) were catered to men. The irony of the existing market is that women are better sports bettors. It's not me saying it, it’s the data.
I saw a business opportunity and I knew I needed to do something for women because we can’t be ignored. It felt to me like banking 15 years ago, so I created Betting Ladies. I chose the name Betting Ladies because I wanted something easy to remember, and something that got to the point. I thought the name Betting Women sounded weird so I chose Betting Ladies.
HSS: I see Betting Ladies as an ecosystem. How did you grow the ecosystem and how do you retain the people within the ecosystem?
VM: I've been working on this for over a year because we are a licensed business in 20 different states in the US, and getting those licenses takes time. At the moment we’re growing organically via word of mouth and we’ve had strong traction because women were ready for something that was catered for them. It might sound cliché but we actually embrace every woman that is interested in sports and wants to learn about betting. We provide a sense of belonging and a community where everyone is welcome. Our content is free, and Betting Ladies creates a space to connect with each other by providing quality courses and educational tools for them to learn and grow.
What caught me by surprise was that when we launched in May we were taken by a storm. Everyone wanted to be part of the community. Women would ask “Can I write for you? Can I be on your videos? How can I help you?” Coming from banking, I will say that sports betting is much easier. People in general, are just friendlier.
HSS: What's your growth strategy?
VM: Currently, we are focused on organic growth and invest heavily in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It's a competitive space because there is a lot of great content in the US. Many highly skilled professionals come out with great videos and strategies. However, there is an opportunity because there's no secret sauce for marketing to women, as it's a relatively untapped market. The best approach is to experiment, test, and see what works.
HSS: What are the lessons you've learned so far?
VM: First and foremost, you need to be flexible because you can have this great idea in your mind, you launch the new feature and nobody cares. You think, OK, fine put the ego aside and let's pivot into something different. You need flexibility. You can't come up with a very rigid strategy and not be able to pivot.
HSS: Do you have any additional advice for female-founded businesses?
VM: Find your people. Nobody is a self-made woman. Yes, of course, you need to do the work, and nobody's going to come and serve a solution on a silver plate. Fundamentally though I found that women want to help other women. You can start by being useful to people and giving more than you take. It will pay off and people will open doors for you.
HSS: When was being a female founder an advantage for you?
VM: It's useful when your customers are people like you. In my business, there is a common theme of we like sports and we're learning about sports betting.
HSS: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me!
- You can gain valuable insights by studying successful strategies in international markets before launching your business.
- Low barriers to entry and a supportive environment will help you grow your ecosystem.
- Continue to iterate through testing new features.
- Being useful to others and giving more than you take will open doors down the line.
Val contacted me on LinkedIn and we setup a time to meet.