Dutchman Jasper Versteege is aiming to take on lotteries around the world with his 100% payout CrowdLottery.com. In what may seem like a daunting task to many, this start up has already raised €250K in funding and is now looking to quickly grow its user base so it can offer a real and transparent alternative to state run lotteries.
We spoke with Jasper to find out more about the story behind CrowdLottery.com and how he came to take on such an ambitious project.
Hi Jasper. What was your motivation for starting the project?
I’ve always dreamed of becoming a philanthropist, and I’ve always dreamed of making this world a better place, on a global scale!
In order to achieve that, money will play an important role of course. So, one time, when we had a discussion on what you would do when you hit the jackpot, I jokingly said I would start a lottery, but then it hit me…
First of all, traditional lotteries are ancient institutes that sell physical lottery tickets.
Second, there is a complete lack of transparency.
Third, they are completely focused on maximizing the value they can get out of their customers.
And last but not least, even though we play all kinds of games with players from all over the world, there is no global lottery yet. A lot of room for improvement!
In this digital age I think transparency and the power of crowds can be used to drastically turn this around and create a lottery that actually tries to create value for its players. CrowdLottery.com was created to maximize the chance of hitting the jackpot while it tries to minimize the costs for the players.
I hope that the crowd lottery concept will spark an age of transparency when it comes to lotteries, and that it will force governments to offer their citizens transparent lottery games that will fulfil the need for a shot at the jackpot without monopolizing and actually exploiting that need in name of preventing gambling addiction, as happens in most countries.
People deserve fair, social and transparent lottery games.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?
Well, the biggest challenge would actually be that I’m a “solopreneur”. It makes the tough times tougher and the sweet times not as sweet as they could be because they cannot be shared. The irony is that my whole concept is about sharing!
I know it goes against every advice people give starting entrepreneurs, but when I started researching the possibilities 3 years ago I couldn’t find anybody who was willing to live below the minimum wage standard and put in a lot time and effort for such a crazy idea with completely uncertain outcomes, launching a global lottery and battling almost all the governments in the world. In hindsight I can say that advice is completely true: don’t go at it alone!
Fortunately, thanks to my successful crowdfunding campaign I have the support of 120 investors (from 16 countries), and because people can see the actual outcome of my labour now, there are more people willing to join my team!
How many active members have you now?
Our last draw had 327 members, coming from 22 countries (although the vast majority still comes from the Netherlands, and only 1 from Ireland). This actually shows the hard part about launching this crowd lottery concept: because all the stakes are paid out we cannot promise multi-million jackpots, and in the end that’s what attracts most people.
If we had 10.000 members from the get go it would be more attractive of course, but it would also show more clearly that the crowd lottery concept itself is an huge improvement. At Crowdlottery.com the odds to win 10.000 euro would be 1 in 10.000. When you compare that to the odds of hitting a similar amount at one of the traditional lotteries, which would be more in the range of 1 in 1.000.000, then it will also be immediately clear it offers way better chances. So it is time to grow!
And at CrowdLottery.com there’s always one lucky crowd member who wins, we always payout all the stakes. We don’t have any roll-overs, prizes falling on unsold tickets or on numbers that no one chose. Fairness and transparency are paramount.
What’s your growth plans for the lottery?
Up till this point the crowd has grown virally via word-of-mouth marketing. Hopefully that process will accelerate when the crowd and thus the jackpot grows bigger. Traditional marketing channels are harder to use because of the restrictive laws of national governments on promoting games of chance, so we are looking for different ways to reach our future crowd members. Next to that I’m also discussing partnerships so we can deliver a white label lottery solution for sports clubs and charities.
Can you tell me about your story. What did you do before you started CrowdLottery?
I’ve studied both Philosophy and Economics, with mixed success, because I didn’t finish Economics. During college I’ve been running a website for an online media company (Free Media Group), but I’ve been always looking for a way to mix my two studies and start something of my own. When I got my Bachelor’s degree on Philosophy I had to decide: go for a Master’s degree and study on how we can improve this world through ideas, or go out in the world and actually try to make a difference. I chose the latter, and CrowdLottery.com is the outcome of that decision.
In some countries, a percentage of the prize fund goes to charitable organisations. What’s your position on this?
My dream is to become a philanthropist, so I’m definitely in favour of giving / sharing with whomever. As a social enterprise we donate 50% of the company profit to charity, and we give our members the opportunity to play for a charity of their choice and donate a certain percentage of their winnings when they hit the jackpot (how much is up to them), so we do try to encourage it.
In reality however it is quite a complicated issue, because every nation has different ideas about it. I actually think it should be up to the player to decide what they want. My dream is to become a philanthropist, but that’s not everyone’s dream.
I think offering a transparent lottery concept that’s not built to maximize the value they can get out of their players is more important to society as a whole, than to impose charitable donations while allowing profit maximizing lotteries. Great ideas and causes will get funded either way, whether it is via lotteries or via other means. Although I think there’s a lot of room for the crowd lottery concept in that area as well.
You’ve raised over €250K so far in funding. How did you find the crowdfunding method and what would you have done differently?
You could view CrowdLottery.com as crowdfunding someone’s dream based on luck, so it’s clear I really like crowdfunding in general. I think it has a lot of potential for democratising investments and could also be used to innovate the banking systems we have right now. When crowdfunding first emerged it looked like something that could transcend national borders, but unfortunately national governments are closing the borders again by imposing new rules and regulations that are completely different.
I used the Funded By Me platform, and their goal is to really make it a cross-border platform on a global scale, which I obviously liked. The only downside is that because of all those different rules and regulations in different countries, the process of collecting the money and issuing the shares is quite time-consuming. However, I’ve got 120 Ambassadors of Happiness supporting me, so I would definitely do it again!
To find out more about CrowdLottery and how it works, visit this link.