During the California gold rush, the adage goes, savvy businessmen sold shovels. Some 150 years later, as prospectors sprint towards the multibillion dollar gusher that is the growing U.S. sports betting industry, startups are equipping bettors searching for profits with a new set of tools. Companies like OddsJam cater to—and look to grow—the number of gamblers who think of sportsbooks more as financial markets than an idle game.
OddsJam’s core feature tracks lines at dozens of sites to find the most favorable odds on each wager. The tool also highlights cases where one book’s odds are so favorable as to offer a positive expected return, assuming the rest of the market has accurately priced the bet. It’s geared towards those looking for market inefficiencies rather than game predictions.
The company’s founders are targeting the relatively small (at least for now) slice of U.S. bettors open to using several wagering platforms in search of an edge. During a recent earnings call, Flutter CEO Peter Jackson said U.S. consumers were “much more likely” to only have one sportsbook account compared to their UK peers.
OddsJam’s founders recommend opening accounts at as many books as possible to take advantage of their product’s functions. The platform tracks over 70 sportsbooks, at times updating over one million odds per second. OddsJam’s idea isn’t entirely new. Chris Grove, a sports betting investor and co-founder at Acies Investments, said he remembers seeing countless pitch decks two and three years ago for the Expedia or Nerdwallet of sports betting—companies that would help bettors decide which bets to place and where to make them.
“There’s not a lot of surprise about the demand for these products,” he said. “I think where the surprises are is in who is winning that demand—companies like OddsJam that have come out of effectively nowhere and are capturing a pretty material amount of revenue.”
OddsJam was founded early in 2021 by longtime friends and Stanford grads Ankit Goyal and Alex Monahan. Monahan, a former quantitative trader at Susquehanna, is the face of the company’s getting-started guide, explaining that he built many of OddsJam’s comparison tools for himself and is now offering them to others after having his accounts curtailed or closed at dozens of sportsbooks following successful spells. The company currently sends daily suggested bets to more than 100,000 users.
OddsJam has also caught the attention of former Action Network executives Noah Szubski and Matt Restivo, who have become advisors for the startup. “They built in five months what would have taken us three years to build at Action,” Restivo said. “They were rapidly catching up in the tool space, but they sort of recognized… that there was a larger potential for growth to unlock through content.”
While offering a $500/month plan for diehards, OddsJam has also built out a social-heavy content strategy to reach more casual bettors and develop its affiliate marketing line of revenue, earning a commission when consumers sign up for sportsbooks through its platform. To this point, the startup has been self-funded.
“What we’ve been pushing them is: You have to focus on the 70 million [people who have very little betting experience] to bring folks in,” Szubski said. “You need to educate them.”
With a recently launched player props data app, OddsJam fits into a larger trend of young companies (such as Pine Sports and props.cash) that look to make complex analysis more accessible to bettors without programming backgrounds. But it also leans more heavily into financial lingo like arbitrage and the Kelly Criterion.
While Americans may not use as many books, in part because of sometimes arduous signup processes, recent acquisitions have shown the market interest for affiliate sites and odds comparison tools. In July 2021, one of the UK’s most popular odds comparison platforms, Oddschecker, was bought by Bruin Capital for $218 million. Two months earlier, Better Collective acquired The Action Network (after it had absorbed FantasyLabs and Sports Insights) for $240 million.
Perhaps counterintuitively, most sportsbooks often appreciate odds comparison tools. “Yes, it might help some people line shop and direct handle to a competitor on a case by case basis,” said betting-focused investor and Sharp Alpha Advisors founder Lloyd Danzig, “but in general I think operators view odds aggregators as customer acquisition tools.”
Affiliate relationships with sportsbooks are part of what’s driving consolidation in the category. Despite its youth, OddsJam has already participated in that practice, buying OddsBoom this summer. Better Collective, meanwhile, has acquired RotoGrinders, the Scores and Odds platform, and Vegas Insider, in addition to The Action Network.
“The more traffic I can send to an operator like DraftKings or FanDuel, the more leverage I have, and the greater my pricing power,” Grove said. “If I’m sending them 1,000 customers a month, I’m important. And if I’m sending them 10,000 customers a month, I am something between important and critical.”
OddsJam believes it can continue to scale, using content to convert users to its data-centric way of thinking while continuing to develop more and more tools. Beyond comparing simple spread and over-under lines, the company has its eyes on increasingly popular parlay and prop bets, including specific plays like “No Run First Inning” wagers.
Many bettors may prefer simpler offerings—hoping to get single-game recommendations or do a quick check to ensure they’re getting the best odds on the team they’ve already decided to bet on. Still, OddsJam’s founders believe there is a large subset of people eager to find a data-driven edge in the market.
“We realized there was a massive opportunity in the sports betting industry to build a B2C company,” Goyal said, “to kind of build, let’s say, the New Age Action Network.”