SBC sat down with Triggy’s new CEO Martina Åkerlund and co-founder Björn Nilsson to discuss what the future holds for Åkerlund in her new role, as well as how her previous experience in the banking industry will influence her leadership especially when Triggy is expanding and entering the US market.
SBC: Firstly, congratulations on the new role! Why did you choose to join Triggy now?
MA: I have worked within the banking and finance sectors for over 20 years, and I thought that it would be nice to have a change of scenery. I’ve always been seriously impressed by entrepreneurship but I’ve yet to come up with an idea that I’ve been confident enough to quit my job for.
I felt that when I was approached for the role as CEO at Triggy, it was a really good opportunity to work for a great company. The new role gives me the chance to take lead in building a company and participate in the exciting journey that Triggy is on.
SBC: How has your banking background prepared you for what you will face at Triggy?
MA: One thing I have experienced is that in the banking and finance industry, we tend to love planning, processes and structure, sometimes even too much. At Triggy, we have three wonderful entrepreneurs and a great team whom I think can be made even stronger by focusing on a common goal and clear priorities. I have experience in building scalable processes and I will work hard to create efficiency across the teams
I also think that the fact that both gaming and banking is heavily regulated appeals to me. Compliance will always be top of mind and central in Triggy’s approach to business opportunities.
Triggy, just like banking and almost all businesses nowadays, has the core components that must be top of mind – customer experience, using data in the best way possible, building teams that are working efficiently together and the need to implement the most effective processes, to ensure that you’re delivering on your business goals.
SBC: As part of your new role as CEO, what are your plans for the future of Triggy?
MA: Most importantly, to grow and flourish! Triggy has an aggressive growth plan to bring new and innovative products to the betting industry. I’ve adopted this plan and I’m determined to guide the team into delivering on our goals and objectives.
It is great fun to be a woman in this industry and I strongly believe that, as for all companies and businesses, we should strive for both diversity and gender equality to optimize organisations. I want to build a company where everyone is able to contribute and grow together with Triggy.
SBC: Now is an exciting time for the industry – what are you most looking forward to about joining Triggy?
MA: I’m really looking forward to getting to know the business better. We already have plans for so many exciting projects in the company, as an example, we are targeting the US market. We are expanding and building the Triggy brand. I have to say that it’s going to be a super exciting journey over the next six months and beyond.
SBC: COVID-19 has inevitably dominated the conversation over the last few months. How have the last few months been at Triggy?
BN: We had a few frustrating months April to June due to the lack of sports, but on the positive side we got plenty done on the product side. We have continued to strengthen the company, we have hired more people, raised more capital and started building our American Football product.
From my perspective, as someone who is involved in the commercial and sales divisions, I was rather frustrated because of the lack of sports! But now that sports events have resumed, we are back on track and we have a lot of great discussions with industry people ongoing.
MA: That’s something that I found really impressive when looking at joining Triggy because if you’re a company looking to thrive in the long-run, you will have to adjust and be innovative in this ever changing business landscape, whether it be tougher periods, changing regulatory requirements or meeting new customer demands.
Triggy’s way of adjusting business operations in the pandemic is quite impressive. To invest in the future and choose to grow the company when revenues halts due to a total cancellation of sporting events takes great courage. This is something that really appeals to me. They took that opportunity to find new, top-notch employees and build their products to the best possible standard.
SBC: One thing that became quite popular in the early months of the pandemic was the more niche sports markets such as Esports and even Belarussian Football. If there were to be another lull in the market, is this something that you would look at?
BN: We did consider table tennis, but we decided not to in the end. Esports is something that is on our radar though.
I think we need to keep focused on building our basketball, baseball, and hockey product to cover the US market. It is really easy to get side-stepped as the opportunities are endless.
There are so many new trends, and the US market has great potential, we feel our products have the perfect fit. We will continue to make deals in Europe and Asia as well.
SBC: Triggy made its first US hire a few weeks ago – what are your plans for the US market?
BN: I think it is safe to say that the US market has exploded on the sports betting side of things as more and more states are regulating. In 2019, we exhibited at the Betting on Sports America conference in New Jersey and it was fascinating to meet all of the different people who wanted to get into the business but didn’t have much of a background in the sector.
I think that the US is a real opportunity-driven market. At Triggy, we think that we have great products that will fit the US sports betting market very well when it comes to taking bettors from the offline / retail side of things and bringing them into the online space, especially shifting from pre-game betting to in-play.
Our products are engaging. Our idea is to grow even further by adding all the US sports. We are launching American Football across our products in the upcoming weeks.
We are looking to add basketball in March, baseball and ice hockey to follow. We are looking to invest in the US market over the next few years. It is going to be a busy time!
SBC: Data seems to be very important for the US bettor – do you think those bettors will be more receptive to Triggy’s engagement and reactivation tools such as betting suggestions?
BN: There is a lot of great match and player data available for bettors, almost overwhelming. One of our main missions is to make that data more digestible and useful for bettors to base their “picks” on.
The US bettors who come from the Daily Fantasy Sports side of the industry will most likely enjoy our betting stimulation tools and playing around with our triggers. I think the broader, general population of new sports bettors in the US will use the standard features of the app, namely live scoring with ‘NextBet’ suggestions to make sure that they’re notified when notable events occur in a game.
SBC: And do you think now is a good time to enter the US given that fans have missed a betting summer? Could we be seeing a busy fall period?
BN: Absolutely! As long as sports continue to stay open for business, I’m confident that we are going to see a lot of action leading up to the Super Bowl and March Madness. It is going to be ‘madness’ so to speak.