James Hardy is the Director of matched betting platform Heads&Heads. He has given me an insight into what motivated him to start Heads&Heads and what it’s like for him running a business.
Can you tell me a little more about Heads&Heads?
Heads&Heads is a matched betting service tailored for beginners. The site is designed with that in mind – offering a clean UI, useful tools/software and 24/7 informal customer service.
We started two years ago and have been steadily growing ever since. We do not have any major financial backing, nor are we partnered/funded by a parent site. This of course means growth will remain steady for a while to come, however it ensures complete neutrality.
Members of Heads&Heads know that what you see is what you get – no one is paying our bills and that means our advice/directions are based on what is best for our members and nothing else!
Our aim in the coming years is not only to grow our own matched betting community but to ensure matched betting’s survival in the long term.
Why did you start Heads&Heads?
I’d been matched betting for many years prior to building Heads&Heads.
It single-handedly paid off my student debts (prior to the rise in fees). When I began writing the first lines of code for the site, the options for a matched betting service were actually really slim.
There were no options you could reasonably call ‘professional’ by today’s standards. Of course, with all of this essentially being a solo project, it took a while to build Heads&Heads.
So, whilst the options available to the public today have certainly improved, it hasn’t dampened the desire to do what I set out to do – build a professional and easy to use matched betting service.
To tell the truth, Heads&Heads started out as a bit of a passion project.
There was no major desire to create it so I could own a Business. What it has become is something I am immensely proud of, but I know my goal (a professional and easy to use service) is an ever expanding one.
For every member I get there are hundreds that still haven’t heard of matched betting – something which I aim to change.
Where did the name Heads&Heads come from?
Two-sided coin. Really is just that simple.
When I was coming up with a name, I looked a lot at what the matched betting scene was doing and thought I could do something a little better.
Everyone else seemed obsessed with making sure either ‘Profit’ ‘Odds’ or ‘Matched Betting’ were shoe-horned into their name.
I wanted something that represented matched betting without directly referring to it.
What is matched betting? A risk-free method of making money where you don’t lose – much like a coin toss with a two-sided coin.
What do you feel differentiates Heads&Heads from other services like yours?
We aren’t the biggest, but that is our strength.
We are flexible and can change part of the service to suit member needs almost instantly. Plus, when a member opens up Live Chat they know they are talking to the person who owns the site and I hate standard customer service talk.
As such, I have very informal chats with any who speak to me via Live Chat or the forum, which lends to the general relaxed atmosphere of the service. There are no tightly policed forums because I am not linked or partnered with anyone – which (as some who have experienced with other services will know) often leads to a conflict of interest.
Further, our bet tracking process is one of the cleanest in my opinion. All the calculations are done within the Oddsmatching Software. Which in of itself is nothing special, but the ability to quickly add these bets to your user Dashboard so they can be tracked (and easily adjusted if needed) is something I am proud of.
Overall, I do not think there is a matched betting service out there that has the type of open customer service we have. This is something I want to grow and grow. Because while new software is always good, nothing, in my opinion, is more important to beginners than being part of a service where they feel comfortable to ask any question.
How are you able to offer 24/7 customer service?
Coffee….and a loud phone – is the short answer.
The 24/7 customer service tag is something which I think a lot of other services rarely adhere to. I think to some, it just means you can email them 24/7 and they’ll ‘get back to you’ – normally in the morning.
Heads&Heads on the other hand have multiple examples a serving Live Chats at 2am. Luckily these examples are few and far between – otherwise I’d never sleep. Heads&Heads members have been so far, very courteous in this regard.
I’m fully aware that this may not be a scalable model for the future, but for now 24/7 service is genuinely available and it is genuinely a human being at the other end of the Live Chat and not a robot.
Bizarrely I sort of love Live Chat, talking to people who are using something you built is an awesome feeling and one I hope never fades!
What do you feel is the biggest mistake people that are new to matched betting make?
Without a shadow of a doubt – rushing. Either through nerves or over-confidence, rushing can cause some sticky situations. Luckily the initial offers Heads&Heads members begin with do not play about with big monetary values and there is nearly always a solution to any problem.
There can be a sense, as a beginner, that once you’ve found a good odds match on the Oddsmatching software, you HAVE to place your bet on that selection regardless as to whether the odds have shifted or you are struggling to locate the bet.
So, my biggest piece of advice to beginners is – if you find yourself rushing or things don’t look right with a certain bet, just stop. Stop, reset and find another odds match on the software. There are hundreds of options that are constantly refreshed.
If it’s risk free and a way of making some extra money every month, why do you think more people aren’t matched betting?
Matched betting is a victim of it’s own name. The word ‘Betting’ mixed with ‘risk-free’ instantly puts people’s guards up and leads them into making an instant and negative judgement.
Humanity has gone through its phase of trusting the internet and has come out the other side thoroughly bruised and battered. People are less trusting these days and rightfully so.
There is no shortage of scams out there and people have seen enough click-bait banner adds about get rich quick scams that it leads them to falsely thinking they have matched betting all sussed out.
If matched betting services were as professional 12 years ago as they are now, I’m almost positive that we’d be an accepted and trusted industry by now. Unfortunately, we are a victim of the time we live in now, coupled with the rightfully negative connotations around the word ‘betting’.
Advertising is also incredibly difficult. For the most part matched betting companies rely on word of mouth. Which ironically should make us more trustworthy than any company in existence – because without consumer trust and loyalty we just simply wouldn’t grow and cease to exist.
Is there any group that you wouldn’t’ recommend matched betting to?
If you are over 18, then you can matched bet. So, I wouldn’t say there is a ‘group’ I wouldn’t recommend matched betting to.
Instead I’d say there may be a ‘mentality’ I wouldn’t recommend matched betting to.To be clear, matched betting is not (nor will it ever be) gambling. It promotes the opposite – a risk-adverse mindset, that actually lights up a completely different part of your brain. So, the act of matched betting will not in any way ‘promote’ addictive tendencies.
However…..and it is a big however. There are some individuals out there with extremely addictive personalities. Individuals who will be tempted to gamble at the sheer sight of a bookie – In no way should these individuals be approached to try matched betting.
But that aside, if you are over 18 and have access to the internet, then matched betting is worth a go.
Do you know what the most that someone has ever won using Heads&Heads?
I do. It was actually on a risk-free Casino offer from Ladbrokes. Just a simple bet £10 on sports (back and layed of course to cancel out the risk) and get 20 free spins.
The result of those 20 free spins was a £3,894.80 win.
What are your hopes for the future of Heads&Heads?
I love this question because it gets me excited every time I answer it. The obvious answer is to continue growing and push into the thousands of members.
However, on a more expansive note, it would be a combination of: recognition of matched betting within the mainstream media, collaboration between matched betting companies to secure the future of matched betting and, most controversially, to work with bookmakers to not only improve the matched betting experience but also cease this fairly unproductive hatred we have of each other.
I could talk about this for hours, but I think it is important to clarify the final point I made above. I’m not suggesting working with the bookmakers, doing so would compromise the service Heads&Heads offers.
All this means is I think there is a middle ground that can be reached that ensures the bookies profit margins remain strong, whilst also reducing bookmakers apparent need to weed out matched bettors from their customer base. Unrealistic? Perhaps. But I think it is worth working towards.
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
Easy one to answer this one.
Watching my members make money. To have built something that anyone can use, with no required skill set, and to see those individuals improve their quality of life via a bit of extra money – that is an incredibly rewarding thing. Don’t care if it sounds cheesy, I love it!
If Heads&Heads was not your first business, what others have you started?
I have had (and still do have) plenty of ideas for start-ups. Even though Heads&Heads started as a bit of a passion project, it was a logical choice due to the relatively low costs incurred by the business when compared to other business models.
As much as I’d love to share the ideas I have, as far as I know they are still fairly unique – so they are staying in my head for now. At the moment, my only focus is Heads&Heads.
What would you be doing now if you weren’t running Heads&Heads?
I probably would have started up a business regardless. On what? I am not particularly sure, but I previously worked in Advertising and whilst I loved the people, I hated the work.
Making incredibly wealthy companies wealthier through (increasingly) invasive marketing tactics did not sit overly well with me.
Can you take me through a typical day running your business?
Well, my day starts around 6-7am. That is when work starts for me, because I like to get the daily offers from the bookmakers up on the site every morning, plus it is a good time to get general business admin done.
Then, the next four/five of hours usually comprise of posting on our social media channels, talking to members on the forum/Live Chat about the days offers, hunting down odds boosts and answering emails.
Lunch, during the week, is very busy on Live Chat, because members will often try to get the days offers done during their lunch break at work.
After lunch is when I tend to focus on things like writing guides, recording videos, editing, marketing, phone calls with affiliates/suppliers and, of course, coding. That usually takes us up to 7pm, when Live Chat gets busy again.
Things quieten down around 10pm and then I try to squeeze a trip to the gym before midnight.
What was your motivation for starting a business?
I like working on something I enjoy, I like being successful at something and I like being respected for that success.
Whilst you could technically achieve these by working for someone, I feel all these points are both enhanced and accelerated by starting your own business.
Creating something that you built from scratch is a truly unique feeling. Something you only really understand once you try it – and what can I say, I like the feeling.
What have you learnt from any mistakes that you’ve might have made in business?
When I first started, I didn’t have many members for quite a long period of time. As a result, I became quite emotionally invested in those members I did have and when they left (because they’d made the money they wanted to make), I took it very personally.
Obviously, I kept this to myself, but the psychological impact this over-investment had was very negative. So, I learnt very quickly to not spend days pouring over the numbers – instead I learnt to focus on the product and the service overall. The result was a far healthier mentality towards my business.
Secondly, I learnt not to force things, particularly on the marketing side of things. In the first years of having a business there is this consent nagging sense that you need to be doing something every day to grow your business.
This led me in the early days to accept some marketing/advertising campaigns that I not only didn’t really need at the time but were, frankly, a bit rubbish. If I could have that money back now, I know I could use it better. So, in that sense, for anyone out there in the same boat – take your time with marketing and advertising, not just with what you do but when you do it. Timing really is everything.
What advice what you give anyone thinking of starting a business?
I’ve already touched on this in my last question. But other than, time your advertising right and don’t get bogged down in the numbers – I’d say, be prepared to mess up and/or fail.
Most who start their own business don’t truly know what they are getting in to. I am sure there are many top 10 lists/books on how to start a business or what you need to start a business. The reality is that no one really knows. I mean, if you showed a business plan for Instagram to Dragons Den 15 years ago, you would have been laughed out of the room.
It can be a hard point to accept but luck has a huge part to play and should never be masqueraded as skill or hard work. That said, starting a business is not a complete lottery, because hard work and timing do play a part and you can influence both of these – but be aware, there are some things that may be out of your control.
Having the mental strength to accept this and potentially find a solution is crucial.
It may sound like a negative but it really isn’t. There is no script to this, no concrete guide that people can judge your performance against. So, if you have an idea and the motivation to give it everything you have – do it.
I guarantee you, it will be both the most terrifying and exciting experience your ever likely to have!