MJH Patrick Sells | Chief Innovation Officer

Patrick Sells: Chief Innovation Officer At NYDIG

MJH Patrick | Chief Innovation Officer


Our guest for today was recognized as American Banker’s “Digital Banker of the Year” and one of Independent Community Bankers of America’s “40 under 40 Emerging Community Bank Leaders” in 2020. In today’s episode, Patrick Sells, the Chief Innovation Officer at NYDIG, joins David Metz as he talks about his entrepreneurial endeavors. Patrick’s desire and conviction are what drives the change in his life. Listen in as he talks about the powerful innovation, transformation, and disruption we can achieve when we let go of commonly held assumptions that are no longer challenged. Furthermore, Patrick discusses the future of Community Banks. 

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


Patrick Sells: Chief Innovation Officer At NYDIG

I’m excited to announce that we have Chief Innovation Officer Patrick Sells on the show. Welcome, Patrick.

Thanks, David. I’ve been looking forward to chatting with you.

The format is pretty simple. I’m going to ask you six questions so everyone reading this can get a better sense of you and your journey. Does that sound good?

That sounds great.

Question number one, your backstory is full of entrepreneurial endeavors. Let me ask you a question. Do you think a person is born an entrepreneur? Do you think they become one because of their situation or surroundings?


MJH Patrick Sells | Chief Innovation Officer


That’s one I’ve thought about often in my own life and other people’s lives. Ultimately, the way I’ve thought about that is how I define what an entrepreneur is. An entrepreneur is someone who wants to live in a world a certain way. There’s something in them that says, “This is how I want to live,” and they’re so convicted by that that they’re willing to do that. In some senses, many people are entrepreneurs, maybe not as much from a P&L or corporate standpoint, but I look at that and say it’s anyone who says, “That could be this way. It should be this way, and I want to do that.”

I don’t know that it’s something you’re either born with or not. It’s more of when you get to a point in your life where you have enough conviction that you want things differently, whatever that is. That oftentimes leads you down the journey of becoming an entrepreneur, an artist, or a professional athlete in many ways if you think with that broader definition.

I’ve never thought of it, and it just dawned on me. Do you think an entrepreneur is more of a lifestyle than a professional choice?

That’s how I would look at it. I share this oftentimes with younger college students or students I talk to that there’s so much this pressure to like, “I need to be an entrepreneur.” Many of them probably will be, but oftentimes there’s this desire to have that label and that name associated with you versus knowing you have enough conviction about how you want life to be differently because you don’t have that much life experience. That’s also why some people don’t become entrepreneurs until they’re 40 or 50. Ultimately, it’s a lifestyle versus a way of thinking about my job. That opens you up also as an entrepreneur to think very broadly about what it is you want to do differently in the world.

I have a son that’s still young. I was a high school and college athlete, so I asked my friends that have older kids. I’m like, “Can you tell if your child’s athletic? At what age can you say they have something or don’t have something?” Do you think you could look at somebody and be like, “That person is an entrepreneur, and that person’s not?” Is there something that a person conveys or probably not because it’s different? What do you think?

It’s interesting. I, too, have a young daughter. One thing that stands out to me is she has a very defined personality, more so than I think many kids her age. That may or may not be a sign of something to come later in her life, but I tend to think there are certain mindsets that cause people to go toward the entrepreneurial path. You can see in someone certain levels of convictions about how they think about life or the world.

Oftentimes, there’s a lot of correlation between strong conviction and entrepreneurship. I don’t know that it’s perfectly correlated, but there are signals like that where we can look at someone and say, “This person is likely to be an entrepreneur or good entrepreneur.” You don’t see signals like that. It’s not just conviction, but there are things like that that indicate someone is more likely to be down that path versus a more standard 9:00 to 5:00 job.

One of your first forays into entrepreneurialism was building a website for a manufacturing company. What I found fascinating was you said, “Yes, I can do that,” when in fact, you couldn’t do that because you did not possess the skills. You went out and recruited high school developers and designers and completed the task. What I’ve always wondered is, a lot of times, the people that hold the keys to the building, whether it’s developers or engineers, are oftentimes not the people that start it.

A lot of times, it’s people like me that don’t possess many skills except for a few that rally it. Without me, they may be too scared or need to be motivated or inspired to do that. You have the Zuckerbergs, who are both engineers and CEOs. Do you think it’s true? A lot of times, the people that have the skills to create it oftentimes are not the ones that are leading the charge. Have you seen that in your field?

It’s some of that. On a topic like this, there’s no universalism. When I think about developers, I also think about accountants or attorneys, people who have honed a certain craft and know how to build something. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they also have the desire or the conviction as to what should be built. That’s where the role of someone like yourself or me in regards to, “I don’t have any engineering skills, but I saw a way in which the world could be or how I wanted to live life.” Going back to that time when I was in college and started that business, I simply needed money. I wanted to be able to live a certain life, and here was an opportunity to make money to build a website.

People who have honed a certain skill and know how to build something don't necessarily mean that they also have the desire or the conviction as to what should be built. Click To Tweet

I said, “I’ll figure it out.” That came from my desire to change my life in some way. Whereas that’s a different mindset. I’m not as wired to do the researcher to know if A is to B and C is to D that you have more in the manufacturing of whatever it is. That’s why you oftentimes have the marriage of the technical skill of, “I know how to build that thing, you think,” but it’s not always that because I know how to do this. It’s very different thinking to be able to say, “What if the world was this way or this thing was this way?” I want that to happen.

I always find it interesting because disruption usually comes without, not within. You can have an industry with hundreds of thousands of people, but it’s some 22-year-old that doesn’t even know much about the industry and end up disrupting it. Is it because they have that rare 10,000-foot view that you end up losing once you get into an industry because it becomes so micro that you lose the macro? Do you find that to be true?

Let’s take a little bit of a tangent here, but a relevant story. We moved a lot as a kid. I moved about every two and a half years on average. When I was in middle school, we moved from suburban Richmond, Virginia, to rural Missouri, a town of about 10,000 people. As a middle schooler, especially someone who’s moved a lot, you learned to pay attention to what other people are doing to fit in quickly. One of the things that I noticed in this town was the cool guys all shaved their arms. It wasn’t like we had a bunch of swimmers. This is football, rural America. I grabbed my sister’s pink Venus razors and started shaving my arms. I fit in.

About two years later, my parents said we were moving again this time to a small town of about 2,000 people in Indiana. It has a similar culture, football, and small-town life. I thought, “I got this. I know how it would be cool right away.” I quickly learned on day one that having a pink Venus razor and shaved arms as a man was not cool. It was very much, in fact, the opposite of cool. I wore long sleeves for a few months and grew my arm hair. The point of that story that is informative in my own life was that innovation usually isn’t about adding something new per se.

It’s when you can identify a commonly held assumption that it’s no longer challenged, and you say, “I want to tweak that one thing.” As a result, everything else gets rearranged. How can it be that in one town shaving arms that were never a challenge as an assumption? It was a small enough town that thought that was cool, and over here, it wasn’t. You get the point of that. What happens oftentimes is people who work in an industry become sensitized to assumptions as to how it’s going to be, “This is what I should expect.”


MJH Patrick | Chief Innovation Officer


You don’t have that vibrant conversation around, “What if one of those things changed and not us trying to add something new?” Where I’ve seen the most powerful innovation and transformation and disruption is when you go at those. It inherently makes it easier for someone who is new because you skip over a lot of assumptions. You don’t even know they exist. That was true of my story throughout my career as I got into finance. I knew nothing about it. Had I known then what I know now, I would never have attempted to do certain things because I know that generally doesn’t work. It’s about being able to look at what’s already there and changing one of those assumptions.

I can’t let you off the hook without asking about crypto. These are interesting times. Give me your optimistic and pessimistic outlook. It’s easy to be a pessimist now. Contrarian would believe you should be buying now. The masses would be selling now. Where do you stand with it?

Zooming out what happened with crypto is, by and large, the community of people working in the ecosystem came from the West Coast. They came from tech and on the West Coast, and technology information, which is the internet making it another means by which we can access and share information, was fundamentally not regulated. If you could build something that was faster, better, or cooler, you could do that and not worry about regulations or the establishment. That came into the crypto, which is fundamentally the first time technology is coming into money. What many misunderstood or miscalculated was that regulations wouldn’t apply.



You started using blockchain technology to build all kinds of fascinating, tremendous businesses and protocols, but because you’re dealing with money, you’re dealing with regulators. It wasn’t big enough from the regulator’s perspective to be a focal point, given all the global issues until of late, because they suddenly started paying attention. It’s very hard to look at many things that have happened and say that that’s not in violation of Securities Law, Commodities Law, or Banking Law. That doesn’t mean the technology and the use cases aren’t powerful signals of what’s to come, but you were going to almost have to have a resetting of the ecosystem from a regulatory perspective so that real companies felt comfortable investing in building out here. Biden’s executive order captured this.

What I’ve experienced from the regulators is they recognize blockchain as a powerful technology, and it’s here to stay. They want American companies to lead that innovation. That’s only going to happen once the rules are in place. Part of what’s gone on this 2022 has been as the regulators have paid more attention, and certain players have gotten in trouble, that’s caused disruption and upheaval in the market. The global macro environment we’re living in is also part of it. We are in a crypto winter, but it’s different because it’s more like the Phoenix coming out of the ashes. In other words, crypto comes back far stronger and more pervasive everywhere than what happened after 2017, when that winter was more like, “Is this thing real? Can businesses use this? Can it solve problems in people’s lives?”

We validated that, and now it’s, “How do we apply that technology in ways that still result in economic security, instability, and what’s coming?” We’re going to have this tremendous rebirth, but along that way, many different tokens will cease to exist because they won’t be able to comply with regulations or be as attractive as a product offering, given what’s happening.

You look at what code was created to understand its purpose. Bitcoin was created to be a form of good money, and many other protocols weren’t created for that. They were trying to be something else. In the world we’re living in, from an investment standpoint, be cautious because lots of things weren’t designed to be money, but they touched money, and now they’re dealing with regulations. How do you rectify and reconcile that? I’d be hesitant to invest in a whole lot of things, but I feel good about Bitcoin.

Historically, you looked at the internet in 2000. It came on furious and crashed in 2001. People are saying the internet is dead, and then came internet 2.0. There started to be practical uses. People started trusting it, purchasing online. You can do that with all. You can say that about the housing crisis. It got out of control, and regulation came in.

It seems like a similar situation for crypto as well. Not to do a 180, but I’d love to get your thoughts on community banks. It seems like FinTech is evolving so quickly that there’s this thought that it’s leaving the smaller banks behind because now you have the birth of neobank or challenger banks. Where do you see the future for community banks? What do they need to do to stay relevant?

I’m a former community banker. I was at a bank called Quontic for a couple of years and fell in love with the industry. One thing that has happened is with the rise of FinTech and neobank, what’s behind most of that are community banks, providing banking as a service. The big banks do that, but most FinTechs are powered by community banks. It’s a way the banking in the community bank industry realized they could participate in the technology evolution that was happening. The other thing that’s going to be an issue and has been for the banking industry is that banks don’t own their own technology. By the nature of how that came to be, it was all rented. You have one too many software deployments that don’t allow for flexibility.

That is going to continue to be an issue for the banking industry, which is how they can get to the point of being able to operate like other FinTechs. They’re both FinTechs. They both completely rely on technology to provide financial services. It’s just FinTech, as we think about it, controls its own tech stack, and community banks don’t control their own tech stack in the same way. They have to figure out how they take back that control. Those that do will flourish, and for the ones that don’t, there will be some consolidation in the market.

I also know the role that community banks play in a community, especially on the credit side like neobank, which isn’t specializing in or doing as much. That part of banking, I don’t feel like goes away and is one of the real strengths of the industry. You have to be thinking about, “I am a technology company. Therefore, I need to be in control of my technology,” which is not how many banks think about themselves.

Do you think there’s a core in mobile providers? There are maybe 5 or 6 that control 90% of all community banks. Do you think they evolve and create flexibility to be able for the banks to innovate quickly? Do you think that banks have to, which is a tough thing to ask, control their own tech stack internally? What do you think comes first?

I’ve gotten to work with all of those major partners here at NYDIG. At various levels, they all are trying to enable banks to have a lot more flexibility and control. I also recognize like that’s a challenge. Those companies came to be most of them through acquisitions of many other consolidations. You have these massively unwieldy tech stacks but are critically important to America’s financial stability, so how do you do that? Those players and you could criticize them, but they all are trying to make it far easier for banks. Now, what banks need to do differently is recognize, “I need to hire developers that work for me.” That’s a big mind shift because they used to be able to go to that provider and ask for more and get frustrated when it’s not faster or more.

Banks need to recognize the need to hire developers that works for them. That's a big mind shift because they are used to going to the provider and asking for more and get frustrated when it's not faster or more. Click To Tweet

As those providers started to make the technology more flexible and adjustable, the banks now need to begin to hire developers, and the average community bank didn’t have any developers on staff. That’s what is missed in that industry. It would be easy to sit here and throw shade on the core providers. They’ve got their own issues and need to be doing other things better, but it takes two to tango. The bank recognizes now is our time to start hiring that talent because we can do more than maybe we know, but if you don’t have a developer on staff who can look at the portal and the toolkits given to you, you don’t know that you can do anything, so then you continue to complain about your technology provider.

Do you think becoming an entrepreneur has made you a better person?

On the aggregate, and going back to the definition, I knew there were things that I wanted to see, whether it was in my lifestyle or the things I got to be a part of that I wanted to do. I was so willing to try to take that risk that I had to be okay with risk and failing. Part of every entrepreneur’s journey is learning how to be okay with your failures. In that regard, it’s made me a better person and how I think about helping in the role I play as a father, friend, and colleague.

I also know that I probably am okay now taking more risks in certain ways than normal people are because I’ve been on the other side of that. Maybe that has some negative impacts as well. In the aggregate, it has helped me be a much better person and be able to be much more beneficial to those in my life as a result of the experience.

When I was younger, I used to think having that entrepreneurial trait or gene was a virtue. Now, I’ve come to realize it’s just a trait. It doesn’t make me better than anyone else. Some days, it’s a blessing. Some days it’s a curse. I am unable to sit on the couch for an hour without being like, “I need to do this. I have this idea.” Sometimes I envy people who can do that, but it doesn’t make me better or worse or anything. It’s who I am as a person. That gift and trait can be used for different reasons. It can be used for good and bad.


MJH Patrick | Chief Innovation Officer


It’s a similar idea going all back to like, “I’ve got this conviction of this business or this thing.” The trade-off for that sometimes is you’re so convicted. You put blinders up on other parts of your life. Are you there for your kids or friends? Are you taking care of yourself? That’s part of the trade-offs where if you want to do this, there are other aspects of that. As an entrepreneur, how you live life and the ups and downs will also affect those in your life. It can be good. You can help provide money for people and jobs, take care of things, and pay for other things if you’re successful, but you’re also subjecting those who love you to a bit more whipsawing than someone who isn’t an entrepreneur per se.

People think it goes easy as an entrepreneur, but it’s not. If you have friends and family that are coming on the ride for you, you certainly have to think about them. For me, I’ve been married for several years. It’s important to have a support system around you in order to be successful. It’s important for you as an entrepreneur to be transparent too. This is not going to be easy, but the journey is what’s rewarding for the entrepreneur.

I read this study years ago about a mouse going through a maze. They were able to measure their brain waves and when it was happiest. What they found out was the mouse wasn’t happiest when it got to the cheese, but it was going through the maze. As cliché as it sounds, it’s about the journey. That’s what gets us most happy. I have so many friends that have sold companies. They get all this money and buy their West Village Townhouse and all that stuff. They’re like, “I still have this void.” What they missed was building something with people. That was most fulfilling. You cannot fill that with things or money or things like that.

Going back to the beginning of the conversation, if you look at it as a profession in a way, one of the outcomes of that is you feel like, “What does it mean to be an entrepreneur or a CEO? If I want to be a good entrepreneur, I need to have sold my business or made a bunch of money, but what do I do there? I made it up the next ladder, but then what?” versus if it’s a lifestyle, if it’s, “I’m going to orient my life around trying to create things that are new or different that I want for others.” It never ends. Like I look at the life of an artist, you can be painting pictures your whole life. It wasn’t about any one picture.



That’s a great way to put it. I totally agree. I usually save the last question for something a little out of the left field. Here comes your left-field question. You’re standing in the middle of a field. You have to pick one or the other in this situation. You got to let me know what you’ll pick. You’re standing in the middle of the field and can be attacked by 25 85-year-olds or 25 6-year-olds from all sides. You have to survive this. Who do you think you have the best chance against?

I’ll take the kids.

You’ll take the kids versus the 85. What’s the reasoning for that?

It’s easier and more inclined to fall into groupthink than 85-year-olds and more inclined to be easily able to be distracted if you create a game or a structure. It’s far easier to try to redirect that attack into something else, whereas with a bunch of 85-year-olds who don’t have maybe all the physical strength, they’re going to each have more defined thoughts, views, and not going to be able to change the whole group with the same efficiency with the kids.

I’ve asked that question a lot, and most people think of it from the physicality standpoint. That’s an interesting way to think about it. The 85-year-olds are less to fall into a group mentality. Having a young kid helps to know intimately how they think.

The mental functioning of a five-year-old is far different, and it’s going to be much easier to distract them or get them to move on intellectually. Maybe I’ll end up beating up a bunch of bruises and apple sauce all over my face, but I’d like to think that’s the better path.

That’s great. I’m glad I asked that because that’s a unique way to approach it. Patrick, I appreciate you taking the time. Any other questions for me or comments before we end?

That has been great, David. I appreciate what you’re doing with this show and talking to people about the journey and what it means to be an entrepreneur. We need more and more narratives out about that. Thank you for having me on. I’m very much impressed by what you’ve done with everything as well as an entrepreneur. It’s been great. Thank you so much.

I appreciate it.


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About Patrick Sells

MJH Patrick | Chief Innovation OfficerPatrick Sells is Chief Innovation Officer at NYDIG, responsible for elevating the company’s bitcoin offerings and executing their mission in expanding bitcoin access. He leads NYDIG’s work developing industry-leading technology solutions and partnering with banks, traditional financial institutions, and more to help them meet the growing client demand for bitcoin offerings. Formerly the firm’s Head of Bank Solutions, Patrick has helped raise NYDIG’s status as a partner of choice in navigating the technology, governmental, audit and regulatory components necessary to offer bitcoin products and services in highly regulated industries.

Prior to joining NYDIG, Patrick served as Chief Innovation Officer at Quontic Bank, where he evolved the firm into a leading adaptive digital bank in the U.S. through a focus on technology and innovation.

In 2020, Patrick was recognized as American Banker’s “Digital Banker of the Year” and one of Independent Community Bankers of America’s “40 under 40 Emerging Community Bank Leaders.” Patrick currently resides in New York City and graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Political Science.

MJH Jai Maw | Betting Industry

Jai Maw: Co-Founder Of Betting Hero

Graphics - Episode Art - MJH Jai Maw - Banner


For the past few years, the betting industry has been pretty cutthroat. It is a massive market with plenty of money to go around. Jai Maw is here to share what it is like to run a public company in this highly competitive world. Joining David Metz, he talks about co-founding Betting Hero, which only started as a small side hustle. Jai explains the major differences between online and offline acquisitions, why he goes through every single Slack notification he receives, and how they cope with unpredictable stock prices. He also opens up on how running a public company changed his life, especially after taking huge leap from account executive to CEO.

Watch the Episode here


Listen to the podcast here


Jai Maw: Co-Founder Of Betting Hero

We have the Cofounder and President of Betting Hero, Jai Maw. Welcome, Jai.

Thank you very much. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me on. 

It’s good to have you. The format is pretty simple. I’m going to ask you six questions so everyone can get a sense of you and hopefully, learn from your experiences. Does that sound good? 

That sounds perfect. 

Question number one, you went from an account executive to CEO that’s led Betting Hero to a successful exit. Most people would consider account executive to CEO a huge leap. Why didn’t it matter for you and many startup CEOs?


Graphics - EB - MJH Jai Maw


Let’s put it into perspective. I went from account executive at a Fortune 500 company in Gartner to being CEO of a company that didn’t exist. I was a cofounder of what we called Betting Hero, back then when we founded it. It was an SBST or Sports Betting Street Team. It was me and my cofounder. That was it. We were CEO and my chief strategy officer, which is my cofounder. We were also the janitor, account executive, cleaner, customer service reps, admin, and accounting. We were everything. That’s how our business started. It’s taking a look at where our strengths were. Instead of deploying them in a single area, we were trying to broaden those, and build a business that could become something great, which we’re on the way to being.

It’s something you think you’ve learned through experience.

Like most startups and founders, you learn on the job. You make a ton of mistakes. You either learn from those mistakes or you make them again. In my opinion, great leaders of startups do learn from those mistakes. They get better. They become what it is that says on their business card. In my case, I grew into the role of CEO and cofounder. Without starting the way that we did doing everything, it would’ve been difficult, if not impossible, for me to be a CEO of a $20 million business where we are now.

I always say there are two types of decisions. There are reversible decisions and irreversible decisions. It’s okay to make mistakes on the reversible ones. Do you think that the decisions you make and your cofounder make are more irreversible than reversible than when you were 2, 5 or 10 people?

Every decision is reversible. There might be causes of a decision that are irreversible, but the decision itself can be reversible. What I mean by that is you make a decision on hiring somebody or firing somebody. You can correct that decision over time by firing somebody or hiring somebody. If you’ve made a mistake, the implications of it are irreversible. You can’t change the fact that your opportunity costs went up because you let go of the wrong individual or you hired the wrong individual. You can’t change that.

The next time it comes to hiring someone, you are informed to make a better decision. Therefore, that decision is reversible. By looking at the business through a slightly different lens, you’re able to continue to move forward and learn from those mistakes. We’ve made plenty of mistakes. We still make mistakes. If there’s a founder out there that says they don’t make mistakes or the business doesn’t make mistakes, of course, they do. The mistakes might be of a bigger or smaller relative value, but mistakes are made. It’s about how you learn from them. How do you then get better? When you get bigger and better, how do you also make sure that the people you have in place, regardless of role, are better at making those decisions than you are?

Regardless if you commit mistakes on a big or small scale, all that matters is how you learn from them. Click To Tweet

For example, as a cofounder and a CEO early on in our life cycle, I was not the best accountant for the job. I was doing the accounting. We now have a professional accountant that is responsible for doing the accounting of the company as it should. I probably made a ton of mistakes when I was in that role. It’s then about, “Put someone in that position that knows how to do the job extremely well, is a professional in that field, and is a specialist.” Trust them to make the right decision. That’s something that all entrepreneurs and all founders will hit that point of, “I’m not the best person for this job anymore.” That decision is probably the irreversible one. If you continue to do that job, then you’re doing a disservice to the business.

When you start out, you’re wearing about twenty different hats. You’re probably devoting 5% of your time to each hat. As you grow, you take your hat off and hand it to somebody. They can spend 100% of their time focusing on that. By that alone, they’re going to do a better job.


Graphics - Host Square - MJH Jai Maw


You have specialists and you have generalists. As a founder, you have to be a specialist in identifying those people. You also have to be a generalist while you’re getting going. There are certain companies that when they were created have enormous financial backing. We bootstrapped our company. We had zero investment for the first eighteen months. We only then took investment when we wanted to get the advisory and knowledge so that we knew that those people had skin in the game.

When you bootstrap a company, you have to double down on everything that you are responsible for doing. I go back to being the janitor, accountant, HR, business development, customer success, and administration. All of those things are equally important at that time in a business. That’s why you hear stories of founders working 100-hour weeks and working jobs as side hustles. That’s exactly how we started. Betting Hero at the time, for twelve months, was a side hustle for my cofounder and me. We were not only working all of those jobs at Betting Hero. We were also working in an account executive position within the companies that we were at. It teaches you to value employees when you get them and make sure that they’re put to work in the right areas with the right specialties.

You also value funding when you get it.

You think about those dollars as if they’re your own because up until that point, they were your own.

When people talk about user acquisition, they almost always think about it as it relates to online acquisition. You found tremendous success in doing it in person and boots on the ground. Why don’t more companies use offline acquisition opportunities? Is it because companies like Betting Hero are rare or they’re just trained to always think about the acquisition as it relates to online?

There are a couple of reasons. First and foremost is the question of scale. When a company, regardless of the industry, thinks about customer acquisition, there is a preconceived notion that digital customer acquisition is easily scaled. To a degree, that is accurate provided that the digital channel is highly effective and that they believe that offline acquisition is difficult to scale or impossible to scale.

I would agree that it’s difficult to scale. To answer the second part of your question about whether companies like Betting Hero are a rare breed and there aren’t many people that can do what we do, I do agree with that. There aren’t many companies that can do what we do as well as we do it with the scale that we’ve also represented.

In addition, companies that are looking for customer acquisition are innately trained to first think of digital channels. In an industry like sports betting and iGaming where there’s also an enormous customer education that needs to be done, the digital channels alone are not effective enough. They give you scale, but they don’t educate the consumer as well as they need to be educated in the way that they need to be educated. That’s where we’re able to bridge that gap at Betting Hero. We provide scale and immense resources.

Graphics - Caption 1 - MJH Jai Maw
Betting Industry: Digital channels are not effective enough. They may give you scale, but they don’t educate the consumer well.


We’ve driven over 300,000 new depositing customers to our operator partners. I don’t know exactly the numbers from the digital operators or the digital versions of what we do. I would argue that we’re at the top or above the pile in terms of scale, disproving that preconceived notion. Secondly, we’re also educating the consumers along the way. Think about it in the financial services industry 15 to 20 years ago when there were no financial services apps available to customers. Still, there are many people that don’t use their banking app, especially those of an older demographic.

Having a team that’s customized and able to train customers on the benefits of your product digitally, but doing so in person is how they want to learn. That’s how they’ve always been trained to absorb knowledge. It’s difficult to absorb knowledge online about an online product if you don’t understand the online product. There’s a chance that you’re not going to understand how to absorb that knowledge.

Graphics - Caption 2 - MJH Jai Maw
Betting Industry: It is difficult to absorb knowledge online about an online product. If you don’t understand it, there’s a chance that you’re not going to absorb that information.


For us, we’ve found that scale is typically the biggest question mark. Can you scale this? Can you reproduce it? People are risky until they get all that. If you can do it correctly, which we’ve proven we can, and then you can also marry that with the differentiating point, which is education, you have a recipe for a successful business. This can be taken from sports betting and iGaming into many industries where there is high friction or high chances of failure rates like financial services, where our model could be put into practice well.

Does it help that the acquisition target is so valuable or that the LTV is so high? It’s not necessarily the scale where you need millions. When I got my first credit card, it was on the college campus. Somebody on campus talked to me and gave me a free t-shirt. I’m like, “I’m in,” but the LTV of a credit card user over their lifetime is tremendous. It was worth that investment. Do you think there’s a correlation between that?

For sure because it gives you the ability to choose digital or offline or both. There’s no getting around it. Running live activation teams as we do is expensive. It is much more expensive than running a website. There are a lot of costs that go into building a website. You’re making sure you have the right domain, the right SEO, and the right content. All those things are costs, but then the amortization of those costs is much longer.

With a live activation event, the cost that goes into running one event never goes away. You replicate it each time. Certainly, the reason we chose to build this business in this industry was because of the value of each individual customer. Therefore, for each individual event, we were able to run and replicate. In an industry where the lifetime value of a customer is maybe $10 or $20, does it make sense to have a team that is boots on the ground activating users? Probably not.

However, there is also a common misunderstanding about what it is that we do as a live activation team. We’re there to activate the user. That’s how we get paid. It is based on new users and new products. However, for everything else that we do, a lot of people would look at it and say, “It’s free of charge,” or, “It’s included.” If you think about the extra value that we provide as a boots-on-the-ground resource for operators, it is immense. I’m talking customer service. I’m talking about frequently asked questions that never see the light of day or never make it back to the operator. There is issue resolution on basic things, but also quite technical things as well as identification of potential VIP players. We are introducing those to operators and integrating with their product team so that we can make sure that their products are improving day after day.

There’s a lot more that goes into what we do than just live activation of new users. Without everything else that we do, the conversion of those new users doesn’t happen. That happens to be what the operator pays for. That’s what everyone thinks that we do, but it’s everything else that we do that adds up and makes us the most successful in what we do.

In that case, if you look at it from that lens, any industry could benefit from having in-person experts on a product and interacting with customers. That’s a shift that we are making internally about who we are and what we do. We’ve always been known as the number one live activation company in the industry. We’re in a process of shifting to being recognized as the number one customer experience company in the industry because we do so much more than just activate, which is ultimately how we’re paid.

We’re shifting a little bit, but staying on the activation theme. Since you’ve done a lot of activations face-to-face, both yourself and your employees, and a lot of times, you’re doing them in bars, what’s the craziest experience you’ve had with someone? Are there many?

Think about where you find our teams. Our teams are at casinos and sports bars across the country, as well as at sporting venues and arenas. We’re talking about, in some cases, highly intoxicated people. We’re talking about people with a lot of testosterone. They’re watching sports. They’re betting on sports. They’re amped up for a game or they’re passionate about it.

There have been many instances of, “Did that happen?” I’m not sure if I could repeat any of them on this show, but we’ve seen a lot. That’s part of the enjoyment of what we do. It is being able to interact with customers in their natural habitat. It’s not to make too much of an analogy towards the animal kingdom, but that’s what it is that we do. We meet customers where they are. We’re building rapport with them. We’re building a relationship with them.

We’re cheering them on when they have a bet placed on their favorite team and they’re playing right in front of us. We’re rooting for or against a group of friends that have bet on different games or different teams. It’s that type of environment that makes what we do so fun. It’s what makes what we do so valuable to the operators as well. We can then tell a real-life story about, “We helped this customer in this situation. He tried to register a couple of weeks ago. He wasn’t successful. We were able to get him registered. He then funded his account. He placed a bet on his favorite team and his team won in overtime. He won his bet.” That’s a feel-good story to share back with the operators and our clients because that’s exactly what they’re missing. They don’t get that information from any digital version of what we do or from any customer.



No customer is reaching out to an operator to say, “I placed this bet. My team won in overtime. I’m super pumped. I’m so happy. I’m never going to leave you. You are the reason that I’m successful.” When we are interacting with them, we get that feedback, and we can then feed it back to the clients. That is another benefit of what we do being in person rather than on a screen that you never have a relationship with a customer. I can’t share any of the crazy stuff.

That’s fair enough. Do you think being an entrepreneur has changed you as a person?

It has expedited what was going to happen anyway in terms of who I am as a person. I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I’ve always been somebody that works incredibly hard and long hours. I typically live what it is that I do. Therefore, I don’t think it has changed me because none of that has changed. It certainly has expedited how fast I’ve gotten there. In some ways, it has changed me. That would be a better question asked of my wife. She would probably know if it has changed me.

There’s more stress. There’s a lot more pressure. When you’re an entrepreneur of a business of two, which it was when we started it, and it’s a side hustle, there is very little risk. It’s always fun. It’s, “We have success. That is amazing. We’re that one step closer to quitting our day jobs and focusing on this full-time.” If you don’t have success or we fail, then you don’t go backward. You stay where you are.

It becomes fun. It’s always a challenge. When you then go into this full-time and you have employees that depend on you, in our case, being publicly traded, you have investors that depend on you, that adds a degree of pressure that you didn’t have before. Instead of providing for your family and making sure that they’re taken care of, you are now providing for your family, as well as your employees and their families and your investors and their families. That’s the pressure that changes.


Graphics - Guest Square - MJH Jai Maw


In my opinion, it’s great because I’m always looking for more of that drive and that energy. Certain founders feed off of that energy. They perform better. Certain founders don’t. They choose to exit the business, relinquish control, or give it to somebody else. In my case, that’s something that I enjoy and relish. I love that challenge. I’ve always been motivated by proving people wrong. When we started this business, there were a lot of doubters. Nobody had done what we did before in this industry. In fact, nobody had done much of what we did in any industry. For us, the challenge was, “Nobody thinks this is going to work. We have the ability to prove them wrong.” That piece has not changed.

As a person, much of my innate programming hasn’t changed. It just accentuated what it is that I focus on, why I do what I do, and why I continue to come back to this. It used to just be my family. That was it. Now, it’s my family, the family of the 400 people that rely on us as employees and contractors, plus the thousands of investors that put their money into FansUnite.

Can you see yourself waking up one morning and not having any Slack messages or texts? I’m not a big social media person. I understand influencers. They get dopamine hits every time they get a like. My dopamine hit is Slack. If I don’t have a Slack message in five minutes, I’m like, “What’s going on? I’m not being productive. I’m not doing something.”

We had an offsite retreat. It is the second one we’ve done this 2022 with our market leads and marketing managers. We use Slack religiously. It is our resource internally. There are thousands of messages every week and dozens of channels. I said to the team, “Slack is a tool for us to use. I don’t expect you all to be as consumed in it as I am, but I read every single Slack message that goes in every single channel. I’m on every single channel.” The team was a little surprised. They’re like, “If you are reading every single channel and every single message that comes in, you probably needed to go do something else.”

For me, it’s a drug that I crave. I have to know and see what is going on. I don’t always respond. Many times, I don’t need to respond, but it’s important for me to have a sense of what is going on in parts of the business that otherwise I may not be exposed to on a daily basis. Can I imagine a world where I’m not getting a Slack message in the morning or I’m not answering an email? What you’re asking is could I imagine myself on a beach somewhere? I can’t.

Will that day come? Possibly. Hopefully, they’ll keep me on as an honorary member. I’ll still be in Slack if that day does come if I ever get pushed out so I can remain involved and live vicariously. At this point, I can’t imagine that day. I’ll go back to my wife. I’m sure she’s craving that day. She’s looking forward to that day.

I know exactly what you mean. What’s the best thing and the worst thing about being a public company?

We’ve only been a public company for about nine months. I don’t know if I’m quite educated to give you a good answer on that, but I can give you my best and worst so far. The best is certainly the exposure to parts of the business that I previously hadn’t had much exposure to. Being able to sit with the founding team of Fans, on calls with their investors and investment bankers that pull deals together, and get an understanding of the inner workings of a public company is amazing. We have great access to those teams, and they support us amazingly.

The best is certainly how much more I’ve learned in the last nine months about business in general and certainly about publicly traded companies. The worst is like anything. It’s the things that you can’t control. As a founder, you have to have control. Things you can have control of, even if they’re negative, are considered positive, in my opinion, because you can impact the outcome.

You have to control things you can take control of. Even if they're negative, that is considered as a positive because you can impact the outcome. Click To Tweet

As a publicly traded company, especially one that’s traded on a smaller exchange, you relinquish a lot of that control in terms of what the market is doing and therefore, how the stock is performing. Over the last nine months, it’s no secret. The markets have been impacted, especially in the sports betting and iGaming space. We have not been excluded from that. We’ve seen our stock fall in terms of value. Unfortunately, it’s not something that we can directly control. All we can control is continuing to run the business efficiently and effectively, generating revenue, generating great profit, and then communicating that message to the investors.

Not being able to move that dial in terms of the stock price has probably been the hardest thing, but it’s good learning because there are many things in business that you cannot control. If you get caught up on those things, it’s very difficult to move forward. You are looking at what’s right in front of you. You’re looking at the trees that are right there and missing, the forest that might be beyond those trees, and that’s the end goal. For us, that’s the focus.



We continue to run the business as well as we can and as much as we would’ve done if we were still private. Everything else will take care of itself. The investors will believe in the story. They will see the vision. They will also see the forest. They will begin to reinvest. The stock price will go up, and the business will prosper as a result. It has been a fun ride as well.

It’s interesting. Startups that raised money in December. They got an evaluation. Let’s say, they have two years of runway. For two years, they don’t have to think about their valuation. It is set. They can weather the storm. When you’re a public company, it’s changing every second. As someone that’s CEO, of a private company, I can relate to that. How much do you tune it out and say, “The stock price is the stock price. I can’t control it.” Even though we may be producing record numbers, it is the market sometimes. You’re looped in with everyone, the whole economy. Even though numbers are great and you’re beating them, you have to let that go because you can’t do anything.

That’s exactly where we found ourselves. If you look at our business in a vacuum, we’ve had the best trailing twelve that we’ve ever had. 2022 will be our best year in terms of revenue, EBITDA, and all of the key indicators of a strong business. Yet, the stock of the company that acquired us is probably at its lowest or still close to its lowest for a number of years. Daily, if you look at that stuff, it’s going to kill you. It’s going to eat you up because there is nothing that you can do about it, or at least not immediately.

Looking at that bigger picture, you have the ability to shape the direction of the story and the vision. We’re listening to the investors about what it is that’s important to them and what is the story that they want to hear. Does that fit with what we’re trying to do? Can we craft that? We are also reading the indicators within the market about what’s important to our operator partners. How can we help them increase their valuation? There’s no secret.

DraftKings and these big publicly-traded operators, the better their stock does, the better our stock does. High tides raise all boats, and that’s accurate here as well. These are clients of ours. We can help them in many ways. The more we can do that, the better we’re helping ourselves. It is about taking a macro approach to the industry and not thinking of yourself on this island in terms of, “If I do this one thing, it’s going to change our course.” The reality is you have to look at the bigger picture and try and help those around you so that we can all prosper.

Even if there may be competitors of ours that we selfishly don’t want to succeed because it might hamper our business, we want them to succeed from a public market standpoint because it’s going to help everybody. This industry, in particular, has missed a little bit of that over the last few years. We’re starting to see more knowledge sharing, helping one another, and focus groups about how we can improve the industry as a whole. The more of that that we see, the better we will all do.

MJH Jai Maw | Betting Industry
Betting Industry: The betting industry has missed a little bit on knowledge sharing over the last few years. More focus groups are needed to improve the industry as a whole.


I agree. You’re right. In the last couple of years, it has been very cutthroat. There’s only going to be a few people that when the smoke clears, who the winners are going to be. Some of that smoke has cleared. It’s a huge market. There’s plenty of money to go around.

Taking it back to the financial service industry where I used to work. There are not only 4 or 5 banks. There are hundreds and thousands of banks. You know this better than most. There are thousands of these institutions. In most industries, there are thousands of options. They all survive in some capacity. They all thrive in some capacity. In this industry, for some reason, there’s a belief that there are only going to be 2 or 3 winners. There might be 2 or 3 leaders, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t winners that go all the way down the pile. It’s about finding that niche, differentiation, and your customers.

One thing that we’ve found by certainly doing the research that we’ve done is that there are plenty of customers still out there that have not yet decided who they’re going to be loyal to. It’s not because there aren’t good products in the industry or good operators for them to use exclusively. It’s because they haven’t found that UX and UI that they’re looking for, or they haven’t found the funding method that they find the least friction with. It might even be that they haven’t found the customer experience that they’re looking for that’s the right customer experience for them. That is why we believe that there will be more than 2 or 3 winners. There might be 2 or 3 leaders, but there will be many winners in this space.

I agree. The last question is a little bit out of the box. If you could only access one website for the rest of your life, what would it be?

How many people say Google? Is that a question you ask everybody?

No, it’s always something different.

I’m going to give you a little trick answer. That website for me would be YouTube. I’ll give you some context as to why. My initial reaction was going to be Google because I’m always looking for more knowledge. Typically, where do you go if you need to learn something? You go to Google and then you figure it out from there.

Google will lead you to a website.

Google will only take you to another link to another website. YouTube is like Google. However, it’s all in one. I’m a visual learner, so when I need to learn something, I will watch a video on it. Therefore, that’s my answer. I would get the most value out of using YouTube and learning from that vehicle. I also think that if everyone could only go to one website, Google would probably disappear. Therefore, YouTube would probably thrive.

That’s a good answer.

Which website would you go to?

Other than Prizeout, BettingHero or Carta?

That’s a good answer too.

Is Slack considered a website?

Are apps going to be included in this too? That’s difficult. That’s a good question for the next guest. If you only had one app on your phone, what would it be?

I’m a huge Wikipedia guy. I like the knowledge that’s condensed. I don’t need the 30-page explanation. I need the one-page history.

Spoken like a true founder.

There’s a joke around the office. It’s to not send me a long email. It won’t be read. There’s nothing that needs more than five sentences to explain.

I saw an email come through from an employee of ours. They wrote in the email, “It took me a couple of hours to write. I rewrote it and wrote it again.” My cofounder responded, and he’s very much that way. He responded and said, “Any email that takes more than ten minutes to write, delete.” I was like, “That’s a good lesson.” If it takes more than ten minutes to write the email, get rid of the email. Call the person. Let’s have a conversation.

If it takes more than 10 minutes to write the email, just get rid of it. Click To Tweet

This wasn’t so bad.

This was amazing.

I appreciate you joining. Hopefully, you had fun. Hopefully, everyone at home gets to learn something. If you’re in a bar and you see Betting Hero, say hi.

If you want to connect so I can learn some things from you, reach out to me on LinkedIn. I would love that.


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About Jai Maw

Graphics - Jai Maw Headshot - MJH Jai MawJai co-founded Betting Hero in 2018, and served as the Chief Executive Officer as the company grew from two full-time employees to over 25 and 250+ Betting Hero independent contractors in 2022. With over three million in-person interactions, and having delivered 300,000+ new depositing customers, Betting Hero is unrivaled as THE best-in-class live activation company for Sports Betting, iGaming, and Cashless operators respectively. In November 2021, Betting Hero merged with American Affilliate, and was subsequently acquired by FansUnite Inc. Jai now serves as President of Betting Hero.

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