August 30, 2020

Betting on Ourselves

Purdue vs. #1 Virginia. The 2019 NCAA Basketball Elite Eight. With seconds remaining in the final period of regulation, Purdue, poised for an upset, leads 70-67. They are just moments away from punching their ticket to the Final Four, but more importantly for Chalkboard co-founders Ted Mauze, Parker Walls, and Will Coomber, the Boilermakers are clear of the spread by nearly eight points. With so little time left on the clock, it seems impossible that a Purdue +4.5 bet could lose. It has to be winner. Locked. Cash it in.

Final Score (OT): Virginia 80, Purdue 75. A five-point loss for Purdue. Agony for the childhood friends and soon-to-be business partners.

Despite suffering one of the worst ‘bad beats’ of our lives that mid-spring day, the excitement, drama, and suspense we were able to share over the course of the game made the experience worthwhile. With the three of us scattered coast-to-coast in different cities, our sports betting group chat (aptly named “Betting Bros”) was the place where we reacted to the action together in real-time. It was our virtual living room or neighborhood pub. It was how we stayed connected.

The problem, however, was that it could not provide the level of integration with the world of sports that we as fans craved. The online sports betting experience consists of three key ingredients: (1) betting lines, (2) live scores, and (3) messages with friends. For years, that experience was deeply fragmented, jury-rigged together by sports bettors using upwards of five different websites, apps and offshore sportsbooks as part of one daily routine.

The lack of a cohesive, vertically-integrated solution was apparent, and stood as a sizable barrier to maximizing the entertainment value of wagering on sports with friends. Sure, there were handicapping sites that sold you their “pick of the day” for a not-so-modest fee, or online forums where you could talk shop with strangers, but a social platform that allowed sports bettors to connect with the people close to them – their friends – simply didn’t exist. It was after that realization – that we had an opportunity to alter the sports betting landscape – when our journey began.

Fast forward 8 months, and here’s where we’re at – weeks away from product launch, a national intern program with 100+ members at over 70 schools, and a dream to tie the social gambling experience together. In a world of distancing and division, everyone needs a way of connecting. We hope Chalkboard will be a way for friends and fans to keep in touch and feel part of a team once again.

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