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Making the Affiliate Industry Better

Better Collective has been innovating and evolving in the affiliate industry for more than a decade, but there’s much more to come. SiGMA spoke to Jesper Søgaard, founder and CEO of the trail-blazing affiliates to discover where the company has come from, and where it’s going.

Back in 2002, two school friends came together in Germany to launch a website designed to help punters gain an edge on casino bonuses. At the time, Jesper Søgaard and Christian Dam Rasmussen, self-proclaimed “bonus opportunists”, were unaware that their love of discovering attractive bonuses, which stole a march on the online casinos, would put them on the road to creating one of the world’s leading affiliates.

“Christian and I were brought together by a passion for hunting bonus codes and betting and gambling online,” Søgaard recalls. “We used to collect bonuses for a profit, but that had limits. We soon found that many other punters were also interested in making the most of bonuses, but just weren’t sure on how to do it. We came up with the idea of launching a website which did the hard work for you – the beginnings of Better Collective.”

The Danish businessman has always had that entrepreneurial spirit, whether it was running his own tuck shop at school, or baking pastries and selling them for profit around his neighbourhood. But it is Better Collective which has set Søgaard out as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Denmark today.

“If someone had told me 10 years ago that Better Collective would be known around the globe, collecting prestigious awards and leading the market, I wouldn’t have believed you. I remember the celebrations when we first made €10,000. Now, we’re employing more than 80 people at our superb offices in Copenhagen, and our products are performing fantastically around the world. It’s an incredible story.”

At the beginning, Søgaard and Dam Rasmussen recognised that their customers were sensible gamblers and bettors, looking to make informed bets which would all-but guarantee a return. This formed the basis of the Better Collective ethos, and Søgaard says that this hasn’t changed over the past 12 years.

“The message and core of the company have remained the same throughout our history, as it’s very important to the way we work and a large part of why we continue to be a success. The technology keeps changing, but our products still do what we set out to do at the very start: provide punters and casino players with all the information they’re looking for, enabling them to make the most informed bets.”

The company must be doing something right. Their trophy cabinet is heaving – in recent times they have received multiple eGR Affiliate of the Year Awards, five Gazelle Awards and, this September, they were crowned a National Champion in the European Business Awards.

Unsurprisingly, Søgaard is proud of the company’s achievements. “What’s great about the awards we’ve received is that they celebrate many different areas of our business. Our affiliate awards recognise our incredible employees and the understanding they have of our industry. The Gazelle Awards recognise growth, and we’ve always been growing faster than the rest of the affiliate industry.”

“It was a huge honour to be crowned National Champion in the European Business Awards. Just 2% of 32,000 entrants achieve that title and it really marks a coming of age for us as a major European company.”

Better Collective’s portfolio now includes more than 1,000 websites and products, with their flagship tipping site, bettingexpert, boasting more than 350,000 users and generating more than 125,000 new betting tips per month. So, what is it that sets them apart?

“The community around bettingexpert is so unique,” says Søgaard, “We have quality tipsters which help drive the content and, in turn, more people come to the site and then move through to bookmakers. Having community-curated content creates an ever-expanding feedback loop; the top tipsters prove they can be trusted, which increases their following, which then encourages their increased activity.”

Talking about his business, Søgaard is visibly delighted with Better Collective’s achievements. There’s a clear sense of the company he co-founded being built on strong values, with ‘respect’ being one of the cornerstones.

“From the start, we laid weight on the value of our word,” he says. “Respect works internally with our employees and externally with our partners and customers. An ethos of trust and respect has built our reputation, and people now know us and trust the quality of the tools and services we develop.”

“It was a huge honour to be crowned National Champion in the European Business Awards. Just 2% of 32,000 entrants achieve that title and it really marks a coming of age for us as a major European company.”

Better Collective’s offices, close to Copenhagen’s harbour and across the water from the opera house, are the epitome of cool. The building’s clean Scandinavian architecture perhaps echoes their own philosophy – inviting, respectful, nurturing. It permeates through to the workforce, too.

“We foster and value the want for innovation in our employees, and look to nurture, respect and reward loyalty in return. Over the years, we’ve been good at recruiting smart people, which forms the main thread through the company. Our leadership team delegates and trusts that our people can cope with big tasks, developing their skills. This freedom gives our employees an incentive to be creative, grow with the company and remain with us. It’s a great atmosphere to work in.”

As the company grows, would they ever look to base themselves outside of Denmark? Søgaard is pretty clear on that thought.

“Copenhagen is a fantastic city and I don’t see a time when we would want to relocate. There is a highly-skilled talent pool here which has already served us well, while the city itself is an attractive place to live and it’s usually pretty easy to convince people to come here.”

“Our values are also rooted in Scandinavian ideals,” he continues, “and partners tend to respect these values when they work with us. We’re very proud to be a successful Danish company. We’ve seen companies gain rapid growth and then up sticks and leave. We gain respect from Denmark for staying, and want to give back as much to her as she has given to us.”

With a clear mind and distinct vision, Søgaard appears to know exactly where the company he co-founded is going. When asked about the future, he talks of continued growth, increased financial strength and an ambition to continue to be at the cutting-edge of the affiliate and technology industries.

After 14 years of sustained growth, market-first products and industry recognition, you wouldn’t bet against him achieving it.

This article was published first on SiGMA Magazine. The magazine was launched at SiGMA show last November. For SiGMA17 sponsorship opportunities click here.

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