Better Collective’s Jesper Søgaard: Cultivating a sustainable affiliate model

Gaining a foothold is difficult in any industry, but this rings particularly true for igaming affiliates. It’s a sector that is subject to regular upheaval, with regulatory changes and compliance focuses often forcing firms to change their whole business model at the drop of a hat. We caught up with Better Collective CEO Jesper Søgaard to find out how to make the most of such a tumultuous business environment.

SBC: Founded in 2004, Better Collective is one of the most established names in the igaming affiliate space. What tips would you give to younger firms that are struggling to come to terms with an industry that is subject to constant upheaval?

JS: Find your niche where you have the passion and know-how, and then own that niche. It is important to focus on a unique aspect of the industry and become masters of what you do. Having a clear focus from the beginning helps you manage through changes in this dynamic industry.    

Also, to be successful in the long run it is important to stay transparent and compliant from the very beginning. Prioritise legal matters, and make sure you are constantly updated on the playing field you operate in.  

SBC: What does it mean to be a super-affiliate? How does this impact on business?

JS: Being a super-affiliate brings various advantages, such as economies of scale opportunities and in-housing of resources – we for instance have built a strong internal legal team that ensures that we stay compliant, and hence don’t get hit by penalties.

Also, our size gives us the opportunity to build stronger relationships with operators and secure better deals, which creates a win-win situation for both partners.

Furthermore, through our M&A strategy we can leverage on our brand recognition that secures a level of trust which we can transfer to new brands. Thus, our home brand (BC) helps to position the new brands we acquire in the eyes of our existing partners.  

SBC: Trust in affiliate companies is often tarnished by rogue affiliates that don’t adhere to compliance measures. Is scaling the only way to regain this trust and make operators respect affiliate businesses?

JS: I would like to put it another way: The only way for affiliates to scale is to have trust. Therefore, it is crucial to be honest and transparent from the start and have compliance as a top priority – even through you are a relatively small player.  

A benefit for Better Collective of reaching our current scale is that we can stay on top of the (trust) game. Plus, the size we have has a measurable impact on the industry, making the regulators more open to listen and include us in dialogues about regulation.

SBC: How do you protect against the regular threat of increased regulation?

JS: We do not see regulation as a threat – we actually welcome regulation. We prefer operating in regulated markets as these ensure stability, both financially and in minimising risk. We are convinced that if you want to win in the long run, a stable market is a key element to be successful.    

At BC, we have built a strong internal legal team, as well as strong internal processes, which ensure that we are updated on new regulation. We are in constant dialogue with regulators and operators in the markets to make sure we are heard and aware of what’s going. This way, we are ready for when regulation changes or evolves.  

SBC: What plans are in place for the remainder of 2019 and beyond to ensure Better Collective keeps moving in the right direction?

JS: It might not come as a surprise, but we have a strong focus on expanding our US operation. We want to establish a US based presence, and our ambition is to get feet on the ground in the market. Alongside that, our M&A strategy is still continuing on a global scale.

We look very much forward to participating in Betting on Football, which always provides a great opportunity for the industry to meet and share updates and discuss the future of the igaming world. It’s always a pleasure to meet colleagues in the industry and I am sure we’re in for some very interesting days at Stamford Bridge.  

Søgaard, along with EasyOdds’ David da Silva, Clever Advertising’s Marcos Oliveira and Gambling.com’s Gavin Walters, will discuss how to create a sustainable affiliate model at next week’s Betting on Football conference. Find out more and book your tickets HERE.

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