Interview with OddsMonkey Founder

“Time is money”, as the saying goes, and it’s a sentiment matched bettors know all too well. Every minute spent searching the internet for bookmaker offers and trying to find and calculate the best odds is time that could be spent actually doing offers and – as everyone knows – the more offers you do, the more money you make! This is exactly how the idea for OddsMonkey first came about. Software developer (and creator of OddsMonkey) Paul, knew that he could build something which would automate the process, saving time and effort, and ultimately helping matched bettors to increase their profits.

I sat down with Paul to find out how OddsMonkey was born and how it’s changed over the years. I also found out what the team got up to at their first Christmas party.

Jenna: Hi Paul – When and why did you start OddsMonkey?

Paul: It feels like such a long time ago! I came up with the idea for OddsMonkey and started the company in August 2011. Well, that’s over 5 years ago, which I guess is a long time…

For the first 4.5 years, I ran OddsMonkey in my spare time. The focus was on creating software that made matched betting easy for everyone. I didn’t invent the concept of matched betting – I’d heard about it online. But I’d found it quite a manual, time-consuming process. I knew that software could make it easier for more people to beat the bookmakers.

 J: What made you start matched betting in the first place?

P: I heard about matched betting on the Martin Lewis MoneySavingExpert website. I read up on it loads, but I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at first – it just seemed a little bit too good to be true. Turning free bets into actual money without risking a penny? I shelved it for a while with a plan to come back to it when I had more time.

I then got to the top of the waiting list for a season ticket for my football club but it was going to cost me around £1,000. I’d just moved house with my young family and really didn’t have a spare £1,000 lying around that I could justify spending on watching my favourite team. That was when I decided to revisit this matched betting thing I kept hearing about. I sat and spent a couple of hours reading through some really helpful posts on MoneySavingExpert and the penny dropped! I understood how the maths behind it worked and (more importantly) how I could turn all these free bets from the bookies into cash that I could treat myself to a season ticket with.

Within two months of starting matched betting, I’d earned around £1300, so I even had enough to pay for travel to the games.

J: So, come on then, which football team was it? Or did you deliberately not say?

P: It was deliberate actually! I know how seriously some people take their football. I’ve always been a bit worried that the supporters of my team’s arch rivals may cancel their OddsMonkey membership if they knew it was founded by ‘the enemy’!

(J: You’re really not going to say? Ok guys, answers on a postcard, please! (Or leave your guesses in the comment section).)

 J: You said that OddsMonkey was a software company that you ran in your spare time, when did that change?

P: At the start of 2016. It was a long journey to get to that stage though. It took around a year to build the OddsMatcher software. I had lots of help from some early testers who provided invaluable feedback on early versions of the software. That feedback helped me create something that was as helpful as possible.

For the next few years, my wife and I provided support to our customers and I kept improving the software and maintaining all the data that we were collecting and processing.

During this time, we were approached by some other matched betting websites (including Profit Maximiser and Profit Accumulator who you might have heard of) who wanted to use our software on their own sites and add even more value by training and supporting people on how to matched bet. This support to users was something that I didn’t have time to do myself, so we licensed out our software to them to use it to complement their own services. We still provide our software to a number of other websites today.

At the start of 2016, one of these partner sites (OddsToIncome) asked if we could meet up to discuss ways we could turn OddsMonkey into a website that offered a full matched betting service. They felt we could all work together to offer something special that no other sites had managed yet. A company that created even more software to help our customers make extra money and also provide awesome customer service and training. I loved the idea and the new OddsMonkey was born!

J: So, the website was relaunched as a full service in April 2016. What changed?

P: Everything! At least in terms of the scale, output and audience of OddsMonkey, anyway. Our ambition to make matched betting easy and accessible for everyone is still there; we’ve just changed how we intend to make that happen.

In April, we went from being solely a software provider to a full service. We now offer a whole range of matched betting tools, dedicated technical and customer support and a growing online forum. April was our deadline to get the new website ready from a functional perspective. But we also took the opportunity to refresh the look and feel of the brand too.

We started to expand the OddsMonkey team too, identify people who would help us become the best matched betting service. Since then, we’ve welcomed a number of matched betting experts and top quality computer programmers. We’re always working to build more tools and improve the ones we already have.

For the launch, we had developed a brand new training system that included categorised guides for all the current offers, along with a Daily Offer Calendar that would be constantly updated by our team. We produced new software like the Racing Matcher, which makes it really easy for our customers to earn money from the daily horse racing bookmaker offers.

We also introduced something that has quickly become one of the most valuable parts of the website: the OddsMonkey Community. The forum is where our Premium members discuss what they’re doing to earn extra money. It’s used for discussions on the best way to approach offers. It’s also a great place to connect with our staff and ask any questions that you may have about the site. There are staff members available on the forum between 9am-9pm, 7 days a week, so you’ll always have expert assistance available within minutes. That’s something that I think is really important, especially for beginners. We know there’s a lot of information to digest and we’ll always work hard to ensure that the Community is a friendly place where there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Jenna: You mentioned staff members being available in the Community. How many people now work for OddsMonkey and how has that been for you? (I get the feeling you’re a bit of a control freak…)

Paul: *Laughs* We’ll come back to the ‘control freak’ comment…

We currently have 17 members of staff. Most are full time and based at our main northern office but we also have remote workers and a new southern office in Brighton, where some of our newest employees are based.

How has it been for me? A little bit surreal to be honest! It really hit home a few weeks ago when we all went out in Newcastle for the first OddsMonkey Christmas party. I’ve never worked anywhere that really values its staff and wanted to ensure that OddsMonkey was different. I think it’s really important to be able to let your hair down with your colleagues and get to know each other outside of work.

We all took part in a cocktail masterclass at a great bar in Newcastle and then sat down for a lovely meal and a few (maybe more than a few) drinks to celebrate the festive period and what we’d achieved in 2016. We invited partners to attend with staff members as I know first hand that working late nights and weekends can have an effect on family life so it was nice to meet our teams partners and, hopefully, show them how much we value the work our staff put in. It was a great night and, as cheesy as it may sound, I feel very privileged to be working with such a great group of people that are passionate about what we do and love to work hard to make sure our customers get the best service possible.  We also each got our own OddsMonkey M&Ms Christmas Bauble!

J: How was it making the move to OddsMonkey full time?

P: It was a big decision for me, moving from a London-based job that I’d had for 17 years. It was daunting, but I absolutely love working on OddsMonkey and it’s a very different experience, in terms of interacting directly with customers. To be able to develop new functionality and see feedback instantly is really satisfying for a technical person. Certainly no regrets at all.

J: What do you say when people ask what you do for a living?

P: That’s actually something I haven’t figured out just yet. Matched betting isn’t easy to explain in one sentence to someone who’s never heard of it before. Over Christmas, I had a good few family members and friends asking me, since they’d heard that I left my old job earlier in the year.

My default answer is that I’ve started an online software company and that’s enough for most people. But some will ask for more information about what we do and I have to face the scepticism about the gambling industry or ‘get rich quick’ schemes. I often get the reaction of “it’s a scam though, isn’t it?”, which I always find interesting as these people know me well personally and know that I’m a genuine person (I hope!), yet they still view the thought of earning easy money as too good to be true. I get that – I had the same reservations myself when I first heard about matched betting, so I do understand. That’s one of the reasons why we really value our OddsMonkey affiliate/refer a friend scheme. It’s much easier to be open minded to the prospect of earning money online when a trusted friend or contact can explain it to you and prove how it all works.

A friend of mine used to tell other friends about matched betting and they just wouldn’t listen, telling him that you can’t beat the bookmakers…That was until he bought himself a nice new watch! When they noticed it, they wanted to know how he’d managed to afford it on his modest salary. Suddenly they were begging him to tell them more about this “matched betting” thing…

J: What’s coming up in 2017 – anything exciting?

P: Yes! We recently ran a trial on 1-to-1 training sessions to help out beginners. We’ve had some amazing feedback and have decided to offer these sessions to all new members during their first month in 2017. We already have lots of training available online with written guides and more video content being produced, but these sessions allow you to speak directly to a matched betting expert who can share their screen with you and walk you through any questions you have.

We’re also working on some new software features that will make the whole process of matched betting even easier. I can’t say too much more for now, but keep an eye out in the OddsMonkey Community as we’ll be looking for testers very soon.

There’s a few more projects too but that’s currently classified information and not something I can share just yet – sorry!

J: Where do you see OddsMonkey in 5 years?

P: I know our competitors pretty well and I genuinely believe that we already offer the best matched betting service available online today based on our software, customer service and value for money.

In 5 years, I’d like to ensure that this is still the case. It won’t be easy but I’m confident in OddsMonkey. We’ll need to keep on building our team to help support our members and ensure that we are always looking to innovate with new software that enables our members’ experience to be even more efficient and profitable.

We’re also always looking to help customers earn money in different ways. We recently introduced our Each Way Matcher which can help members earn money without using any free bets or promotions. This isn’t matched betting per se, but it is another string that can be added to our customers’ money-making arsenal. We’ll need to continue to invest in creating new software like this to ensure that we remain the best of the services available.

J: Finally, what would you say is the best thing about working for OddsMonkey?

P: For me, without doubt, it’s the feedback we get from members where the extra money has made a real difference to their lives. We get lots of great feedback and I try to see it all myself, but as we’ve grown, that’s not quite as easy now. [J: You can read some of our matched betting success stories for yourself!]

I remember very early on, a guy emailed me to say that he had been matched betting for a couple of years but had just recently started using OddsMonkey. He said that it now took him half an hour on a Saturday rather than the hours he’d spent doing it previously. He thanked me because he could now spend that time with his wife and kids, going out for the day. When you hear things like that, how can that not make you feel amazing?!

Another one that sticks out, is a great message from a guy that had paid for a family holiday with matched betting profits and messaged us to say thank you along with a picture he took while having a drink by the pool. Absolutely love all that!

It’s great to see the impact this extra money can have. Most people can easily earn around £500 a month doing a few hours each week in their spare time. It sounds a bit dramatic, but I think it’s true to say that this can change people’s lives, especially in the current financial climate where everything seems to be getting more and more expensive. £6,000 a year could be a great family holiday, pay off debts, a new car, or just make life much easier financially for families with increasing outgoings.

Time to wrap things up

J: Thanks Paul! It’s been great catching up with the founder of OddsMonkey and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!

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About the author:

James OddsMonkey

James OddsMonkey

James' background in IT support and matched betting knowledge is how he's ended up at OddsMonkey updating offer, answering tickets and generally being super helpful.

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