|With over £75 million in gross revenues this year founder of Sportingbet.com is glad he took a gamble 6 years ago. In 1998, he traded off his old bricks-and-mortar betting shops for an online venture. |
Thanks to a series of uninspiring managerial jobs, by the age of 27 the young man decided to take a shot alone. 'I did all sorts of things when I was younger, I sold old football programmes and worked as a part-time car dealer to pay my way through college. I was keen on sports, I knew the bookmaking industry and I was ok at maths! It seemed the right fit,' says Blandford reflecting on the road to success. The young Blandford had a streak of entrepreneurial spirit in him since his college days.
On July 4, 1984 he bought an existing betting shop in Malvern. After some smart marketing, he expanded from one shop to scores of shops. Blandford took over the shops just before the Grand National. An unknown and poorly backed horse 'Last suspect' won. The odds at 50-1 netted Blandford his first big jackpot, which helped him to repay the loans he had taken for his store expansion.
By 1989, Blandford had acquired five shops and sold all but one. Blandford then sold his second chain, to the Tote in 1997, after 13 years in the business.
With the Internet dotcom fever kicking off and online business models on the horizon, Blandford decided Internet betting was the only future of betting. So, Sportingbet.com went online in 1998, from a new base in Alderney, the Channel Islands.
Fast-forward by 6 years and today Sportingbet.com has over 800,000 customers from over 100 countries and was the first company in the British Isles to offer tax-free betting online. The business turns over £1.15 billion and is one of the world's largest online gaming companies. The business that began with 20 staff now employs 400, with customer service call centers operating in Costa Rica, Dublin, Vienna and Australia.
In April 1999 the business was listed on OFEX and raised £1.2 million in capital. Sportingbet.com is now a publicly traded company on AIM, part of the London Stock Exchange.
Blandford has 3 tips to be successful -'Being focused, having good fortune and sticking to basic principles.' He also attributes his online success to timing and his business training in International marketing to give him a head start.