Pre-seed funding secured

UK-based social betting startup app Circl now live, seeks funds for US and Europe expansion

Reading time 2:52 min

Manchester-based start-up Circl, a “live-action” social betting app, is launching after having secured £375,000 in pre-seed funding. The product aims at casual players seeking to play during live in-play sports matches with their friends, with the winner decided by multiple events taking place during the game.

The pre-seed funding round was led by Dutch Sport Tech Fund, combined with various Angel Syndicates, reports About Manchester. Circl is now available at both the Apple iOS store and Google Play. 

The start-up now aims to raise up to £2 million in funding in the next 12 months to allow the business to scale, support an increase in headcount across developer, product and customer-facing disciplines, and enable growth into US and other European countries.

CIrcl was developed in an effort to change the way bettors engage with sports and wagering: the game allows up to 10 users to play against each other to win a pool of money deposited beforehand by the group.

The gaming mechanism is based on a series of real-time events occurring during the match, which are given their own scoring system. Thus, the pot of money moves around the Circl as the event goes on, instead of being awarded solely based on the final outcome.

“Circl has the ability to turn any match into a thriller,” said Will Hawkins, CEO of Circl. “It was created by accident when I was watching a boring game of live football with a bunch of friends who didn’t like football! So, we decided to make a sociable sports betting game for friends that would create and maintain interest throughout the match.”

Hawkins remarks as the app’s main feature that, instead of depending on a single result, Circl uses in-match events such as goals, cards, corners, VAR or offsides “to create tension” about which player will win the money.

“This unique type of sports betting experience can be followed by everyone, no matter their understanding of the sport and is a game of chance rather than skill,” Hawkins added. It aims at “gamifying” the live match beyond its score.

Instead of gaming against a bookmaker, players create their own “Circl,” and each will then deposit money into a central jackpot. The jackpot shifts around the “Circl” as events happen during the match, finally being awarded to the player who has it at the end of the game.

Circl is for everyone, from savvy sports bettors to first-timers. We want to make the spectacle of a live game even better and increase the feeling of inclusion for those with no allegiance to, or interest in, the teams playing,” explained the CEO. “Whilst we are starting with the world’s most popular sport, football, we cannot wait to bring Circl to other sports, and even e-sports.”

In an effort to distance the company from the stigma often associated with betting, Circl is now seeking to help back the football community by donating a proportion of its profits to men’s and women’s grassroots football in the UK, further reports About Manchester.

“Circl aims to boost social inclusion through ‘low buy-in’, group-based participation, rather than the exclusion and addiction that traditional forms of betting often generate,” the start-up describes. “Circl’s innately social concept will power growth in a competitive market at a fraction of the typical acquisition cost seen in this space.”

CEO WIll Hawkins was formerly a product manager at Push Doctor and AccessPay. He is joined by CTO Mark Quinn, former Director of Engineering at Mojo Mortgages; and CFO Eddie Ross, who was Head of Mobile at SkyBet.

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