The King of Pitaco combines football, technology and cash prizes to engage thousands of users on its fantasy gaming platform

Matthews Dantas, 26, from Paraíba, is a football fan. It follows daily the results of the major tournaments in the world, from the Brazilian League to the European Leagues.

His favorite player is Vinicius Junior, the Brazilian left winger who is currently starring at Real Madrid, the current Spanish champions and Champions League finalist.

However, when asked which team he supports, Matthews dodges like an attacker running away from surveillance. “I can’t reveal that,” he says with a laugh. “If people find out, they can say that I give my team an edge when it comes to doing business.”

Matthews is the co-founder and CEO of Rei do Pitaco, a daily fantasy football startup. Created in 2019, sportech has created a platform on which users build squads with players from professional leagues and, in an online game, score according to the statistical performance of athletes in real matches. Goals, steals and echoes add up to points. Cards and special targets reduce usage.

“The King of Pitaco is an entertainment platform for football fans. We enhance the sports scene with technology and make the relationship between fans and games more exciting”

To participate in Rei do Pitaco’s fantasy leagues, users pay between zero and 200 reais, and compete with each other digitally. At the end of the match, those with the most points get cash prizes.

Generally, the amount depends on the amount collected in each online league. The more users competing, the higher the prize. Startup bills by deducting a percentage of the transaction amount.

Among the advantages of Rei do Pitaco is the large number of tournaments and leagues within the platform. There were more than 22 thousand in 2021. The duration of the league is also shorter, there are options based on only one game, which allows the user to take the prize immediately after the final whistle on the field.

With about 300 thousand registered users, Rei do Pitaco has already distributed prizes of 50 million riyals. In 2021, the startup created Liga do Milhão, based on the first two rounds of the Brazilian championship, with a prize of one million reais. In 2022, the scheme was repeated with a prize of 1.5 million riyals.

Football, Technology and Money Awards: The Never-Stop-Growing Billionaire Market

According to a recent study by the English company The Business Research Company, the global fantasy game market moved 22.3 billion US dollars in 2021, and is expected to reach 38.6 billion US dollars in 2025. The Brazilian numbers are much lower. It is estimated that the national market earns between 55 and 66 million OMR annually.

In January 2020, the startup received an angel contribution of $200,000 from Marcello Franco (founder of Sacks perfume and electronic cosmetics company, which was sold to LVMH holding Moët Hennessy in 2010). A year later, there was an initial investment of 28 million riyals. A few months ago, another contribution: 128 million riyals, in the first round.

Matthews says each investment was a result of the results Rei do Pitaco had provided in the previous rounds.

In 2020, what attracted investors the most was the startup team. With resources, we achieved 600% growth in 2021. Above-average deliveries and results attracted new investors almost naturally.”

Speaking of employees, Rei do Pitaco has more than 100 employees. The main areas are engineering, customer success and support, information technology, business development, art and design, marketing and finance. The company has an office in São Paulo, but most employees work remotely, and half of them are outside the city of São Paulo.

With a full cashier and a growing team, Rei do Pitaco focused on product, service and marketing. The goal is customer acquisition. Among the promotional efforts are awards supported by the company itself.

STARTUP has partnered with STREAMER CASIMIRO to broadcast the Brazilian game on TWITCH

There is also an investment in sponsorship. Today it is possible to see the imprint of the King of Betaco in the matches of the Brazilian Cup, as well as in the Campionato Paulista and Campionato Carioca, which ended a few weeks ago.

Part of the startup team in the São Paulo office (Photo: Evandro Bueno Ferreira).

Focusing on new football influencers, Rei do Pitaco has partnered with Casimiro Miguel, one of the most relevant content producers on the internet when it comes to life. The broadcast device has the largest number of subscribers (subscribers) to the Twitch Live Video Service. Sponsored by Rei do Pitaco, Casimiro will be broadcasting and commenting on 19 matches in the Brazilian Championship on his channel.

It is worth noting that until recently, it was difficult to transfer professional games over the Internet. The situation changed with Federal Law 14205/21, known as the Mandate Law, which was enacted last September.

Today, the law specifies that television, radio or broadcasting platforms must negotiate only with the local club, the club that plays in their stadium. At the same time, the host can broadcast the event on its own channels on the Internet.

One of the challenges of the King of Petaku is to educate the market about what fantasy games are

Speaking of regulation, the Brazilian fantasy game market still doesn’t have what it calls its own market. The earliest laws predate the generalization of the Internet and deal more with competitions.

Until the end of 2021, fantasy games are included in the Games Legal Framework Act. The package of actions licenses and regulates so-called “games of chance”, such as casinos and bingo. However, amid heated discussions, fantasy games – and sports betting methods – have been removed from the text.

On this topic, Matthews advocates that everyday fantasy games are games of skill and not based on chance. Therefore, there will be no regulation of the sector.

“The Brazilian fantasy game market has started. Discussions are still in its infancy. To integrate and grow, it is necessary to educate the market, partners and users. The first point is to make it clear that it is a game of skill”

In 2018, a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology indicated that there is real skill in fantasy games. Users with more knowledge about stats, game rules, and player profiles, among other factors, tend to perform better in digital competitions.

The two partners were at school in Paraíba, but they met each other by chance in Europe

Skill is a trait that Matthews demonstrates possessing. At the age of 13, he started programming. At the age of 17, he enrolled in a computer science course at the Federal University of Campina Grande, his hometown.

Prior to completing the course, he did internships at Google and Facebook (twice) and in Brazil WildLife, one of the largest mobile game developers in the world.

Platform Interface: Translates athletes’ performance on the field into points in the online game.

In 2015, during a three-month internship at Google in Warsaw, Poland, Mateusz met Kiko Augusto, who is also a student at the Federal University of Campina Grande. At the time, Kiko was doing a science initiative in audio systems engineering at University College London.

Although they lived in different countries, their friendship grew. Between 2017 and 2018, Keiko was an intern at Intel in Germany. Meanwhile, Matthews has worked at the American human resources technology company Betterworks and at Snapchat.

The following year, the two joined forces with the knowledge gained in these technology companies to take advantage of gaps in the Brazilian fantasy game market, which until then had been controlled by only one large company.

Details: Kiko is very attached to football (even more than Mateus). Thus the king of Pitaco was born, and Kiko took over the management of communications.

Today, it’s been three years since the start-up, seven years of friendship between the partners – and twenty since the last World Cup victory. Mateus was only 6 years old when Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in Yokohama, Japan, but he still holds that title in his memory.

“The 2002 World Cup is the first time I have memories of, and one of the most it left me with. I watched the final at my grandfather’s house in Piaui. It was the biggest party”

Now, the entrepreneur believes that mobilizing around the 2022 World Cup should help increase participation on the platform.

Expectations are that the members of Rei do Pitaco – and all Brazilians – will have plenty of reason to celebrate on December 18, when the ball rolls in the Qatar Cup final.

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