TAPPP, a sports technology company, has raised $10 million in a Series B funding round.
The New York company was formed in 2012 and focused on developing pre-paid cards for access to live and archived sporting events, striking deals with Major League Baseball and the National Football League. But TAPPP recently expanded and built the technology and infrastructure to allow viewers to be on sporting events via televisions and streaming platforms.
On April 16, TAPPP plans on launching its first in-game betting product. The company has partnered with Major League Rugby on a deal that will allow fans to wager on games that are streamed on the Rugby Network, a streaming platform. TAPPP and Major League Rugby are also partnering on a free to play game in all 50 states beginning on April 9.
The live betting at first will only be available for residents of New Jersey who wager using the PlayUp sportsbook. Fan who watch on the Rugby Network will see a prompt asking if they want to bet on the outcome of the game, how many points will be scored and other wagers. They can then click on the prompt, see an interactive panel with in-game odds and place a wager as long as it’s linked to their PlayUp account.
Sandy Agarwal, TAPPP’s founder and chief executive, said the company has received approval for online sports betting in 15 states. TAPPP is hoping to launch Major League Rugby betting in other states later this year as well as partner with additional sportsbooks and professional sports leagues in the coming years.
“Taking a page out of television, we always have a test market to make sure everything is running before we (expand),” Agarwal said.
The Series B round was co-led by Accomplice, a Boston venture capital firm, and Verance Capital, a New York VC firm. Ryan Moore, Accomplice’s co-founder and a member of DraftKings’ board of directors, had previously invested in Landmat, a developer of mobile applications that Agarwal founded in 2001 and later sold to Nokia.
Several owners of professional sports teams invested in the Series B round, as well, including Stephen Pagliuca of the Boston Celtics and Peter Tomozawa of the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Sounders. TAPPP has now raised more than $21 million. The company would not disclose its value following the latest funding round.
“As betting and fan engagement become ubiquitous across platforms, TAPPP is well positioned to facilitate that seamless integration,” Lyle Ayes, Verance Capital’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “We’re excited to support them through this next phase of growth.”
Agarwal founded TAPPP in 2012 when he was living in Singapore and having trouble accessing Cleveland Browns games on television. The company developed the technology for pre-paid cards for the NFL Game Pass service where fans can watch live out-of-market preseason games and get access to live audio of regular season and postseason games as well as replays. TAPPP also developed pre-paid cards for the MLB.TV service, where fans can stream out-of-market Major League Baseball games.
In 2018, TAPPP raised a $5 Series A round shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. That ruling paved the way for legal sports betting and prompted Agarwal to see how TAPPP could expand into the sports betting industry.
Last year, TAPPP formed a partnership with BetMGM and developed BetMGM gift cards available at retail stores throughout the United States. Customers who buy the gift cards can log into and/or register with the BetMGM sportsbook and wager using the funds. The gift cards are available in eight states at more than 6,000 retail locations, including Dollar General and 7-Eleven.
TAPPP currently has 20 employees and is looking to hire an additional 25 employees by the fall. In February, it hired Willy Burkhardt as chief operating officer. Burkhardt earlier in his career worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Co. and served as head of international business development for Turner Entertainment and executive vice president of ESPN International.
Agarwal said TAPPP has been developing the technology and application programming interface for the in-game betting product for the past 18 months. He added the company has patented the technology and platform, which he described as complicated by the fact that the odds are constantly changing and the betting market is heavily regulated.
“Our model is not to have (sport organizations and sportsbooks) pay us and then we’ll never see you again and here’s the platform,” Agarwal said. “Our model is we’re very much in bed with them. As you’d imagine, as we start getting consumers interacting, we can start making the experience a lot more engaging. That’s what’s it’s all about is a customer engagement or viewer engagement. That’s going to be an ongoing journey.”