Second-year’s Start-up Aims to Change Betting

Spencer Gordon-Sand’s company, Besst, offers a platform to bet without staking money.

By Daksh Chauhan, Deputy News Editor

Second-year Spencer Gordon-Sand is making waves with his tech startup, Besst, which aims to change the way people bet and has gained the attention of journals like Forbes and Chicago Inno. The concept drew acclaim from the technology and entrepreneurship journal Chicago Inno, which named him one of Chicago's 25 Under 25.

On this platform, people make bets but the bets have no monetary stakes. Friends can see and engage with the outcomes and move up or down rankings within their groups. They can take sides on ongoing bets and share it on social networking platforms.

Besst does not mean to mimic the casino experience and is not meant for gamblers. The app is catering to people who are betting for the exhilaration involved in betting, not the monetary element.

Besst plans to make money by selling advertising on its site. However, this creates initial difficulties, since advertisers are usually only interested in sites with a sufficiently large audience.

“The thing is that they only care about your user base when you hit a certain threshold and can separate your user base based on interest,” said Gordon-Sand.

Besst has garnered attention from investors and startup incubators. Gordon-Sand has raised $20,000 in pre-seed funding – early venture capital – and plans to start raising the seed round in late September. The company has also received non-monetary support from the University of Chicago, the Polsky Center and the startup incubator TechNexus.

Gordon-Sand also hired a group ranging in age and experience. His app development team is composed of veteran programmers like Dan Hahm, a 38-year-old developer who has worked with both startups and larger companies like McDonalds.

Although Gordon-Sand picked experienced employees for app development, for other roles he hired students in the hopes that they better understand their own cohort.

“Not only am I more comfortable with less experience on this side, but, being younger actually gives them an advantage,” Gordon-Sand said.

Gordon-Sand presented his idea and company to other entrepreneurs and investors at the Forbes 30 under 30 summit at Boston in late September and early October. He was one of 50 groups selected from a pool of 3,000.

“We’re at a point now where we’re ready for and in need of the next round of funding and exposure. This event is the perfect opportunity for that to happen,” said Gordon-Sand.