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San Diego Business Journal Article

All Bets Are On for ALT Sports Data

\TECHNOLOGY: Trading Data Co. Brings Alt Sports Wagering Mainstream


FEBRUARY 21, 2024


Skateboarding is one of the alternative sports that ALT Sports Data, Inc. help connect leagues and people to in the gambling world. Photo courtesy ALT Sports Data

CARLSBAD – Investors continue to bet that Joe Dunnigan is taking ALT Sports Data, Inc., the business he co-founded with Todd Ballard in 2021, to the limit – and further.

The Carlsbad-headquartered sports data and analytics solutions company earlier this year announced a $2.5 million raise in Seed funding. Led by Eberg Capital and Relay Ventures, with additional participation from Trinity West Ventures and NuFund Venture Group as well as other sports and technology industry investors, the company intends to use the money to scale the business and expand operations.

“Seed funding will go to growing our team, improving and expanding our tech infrastructure, and scaling up early revenues on three fronts – data revenue, demand generation revenue and league services, by commercializing and growing in number our existing commercial relationships with leading global operators,” Dunnigan said.

He said the support and guidance the company has received from investors validate its work.

“They see what we see as a wide-open space in a fast-growing market and that we have a three-year head start on capitalizing on it,” Dunnigan said. “We have really derisked the opportunity significantly for them through our investments and efforts over the past three years.”

ALT Sports Data is a source of official and unofficial alternative sports trading data that brings fans and potential bettors to sportsbook operators, media platforms and event producers where partners offer real-time dynamic trading data from a sports portfolio and engage with what the company says are 1 billion global alternative sports fans.

Shying away from traditional gambling from the big four – professional football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey – the company instead harnesses the popularity of alternative competitive outdoor, action, endurance and motor sports like jai alai, surfing, snowboarding and darts.

The company provides connection points between alternative sports and their leagues, and the gaming and wagering space. The company leverages and shares proprietary data and odds pricing overseen by specialists in the trading systems sphere.

Three Phase Plan

Dunnigan said the company’s first phase was to define its concept and find a technical co-founder, which they did in Michael Jordan, who built a daily fantasy surfing product that he sold to the World Surf League. Its second phase was to prove its model, securing top ties and commercial contracts with many Tier 1 operators and allowing the company to drive early revenue.

“Phase 3 will be about scaling up revenue and improving and expanding our products and services,” he said.

Dunnigan has deep roots in the gaming and gambling sphere, dating back to his great-grandfather who helped pass legislation in the late 1930s to legalize pari-mutuel wagering in New York. His grandfather ran and owned racetracks including Buffalo Raceway and the Phoenix Trotting Park in Arizona. His father trained and raced harness horses internationally for five decades.

Along his career journey, Dunnigan co-founded the first action sports e-commerce provider – – and also co-founded specialty retailer Cowtown Skateboards, then was CEO for SITE Design Co., a leading global designer and developer of action sports facilities. Before founding ALT Sports Data, he worked at GoPro with Ballard as head of global brand strategy. With what he called “a somewhat unique combo of action/alternative sports and gaming,” Dunnigan said he “could never make sense of why we could not bet on action sports.” Ballard said he and Dunnigan “just couldn’t get a good answer of why it hadn’t been done before.”

Opportunity in Niche Sports

Ballard added: “I think what happened is that sports betting has kind of exploded and a lot of effort has gone on the ‘big four sports’ but there are all these other sports that that have massive fandom behind it. They drive fashion and they drive music, they’re global and they have premier series within them that have been around for decades and are now becoming Olympic sports.”

Ballard said the two saw a big opportunity especially from the relationships they had while working at GoPro, to help enable alternative sports to get into the sports betting business in a regulated and legal way.

Dunnigan said he founded the company by leveraging his own capital resources and equity initially to get it off the ground. He said he spent the better part of a year convincing a lot of people, including Ballard — who was approached initially as an investor before joining — that the company would be viable.

Growth ‘Fun, Challenging, Exciting’

“The growth so far has been fun, challenging and exciting and the opportunity is far larger than we had ever imagined,” Dunnigan said. “We are doing something very new in a lot of ways so there is truly no playbook to follow.”

Dunnigan said ALT Sports Data’s potential to help expand the total addressable market for the global sports betting industry by introducing dozens of what are currently considered underrepresented sports is “becoming more real by the day.”

“We are efficiently building the supply side of the industry by bringing an innovation pipeline while also impacting the demand side to more cost effectively acquire and retain new customers by partnering with official league partners to unlock the value of their audiences,” he said. “It is proving highly valuable to the industry.

In the process, we believe that we are ultimately playing a role in effectively helping to democratize sports by providing fans and followers globally new ways to engage in the sports we and they love.”

Dunnigan said that while the company still has much to prove and a lot of hard work ahead of it, ALT Sports Data is increasingly convinced that the opportunity that it identified is far greater than it originally anticipated.

The more than $200 billion global sports betting industry was its original TAM target and remains its core focus. However, in developing the platform for addressing the fundamental supply and demand challenges faced by sports betting, Dunnigan said it also “illuminated a robust demand from literally dozens, if not hundreds, of global sports leagues that are currently underrepresented in sports betting.”

He said the company has the potential to help leagues expand their TAM and deepen fan engagement with participants, fans and followers having a stake in the outcome of their events.Ballard said the company has positioned itself for a big year starting now — with the Super Bowl over, and before March Madness begins.

“This is a great time for us because a lot of the non-traditional sports are making a push, giving sports books some variety and content during downtime peaks,” he said.

ALT Sports Data, Inc.





BUSINESS: Sports data


SOCIAL IMPACT: ALT Sports Data Inc. is focused on responsible gaming.

NOTABLE: Company CEO Dunnigan’s great grandfather helped pass legislation in the 1930s to legalize pari-mutuel wagering in New York.

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