- Tell me about Mike DeFelice
Mike: Well, my son Leo was born a couple weeks ago! I was born and raised in Northeast Ohio, went to Ohio State for mechanical engineering. Spent two years in Eastern Europe after I graduated with a christian student organization and that was where I started dating my now wife Hilary. We got back to the U.S., got engaged and married, and then I got a job offer from Shell and we moved down to Texas. I worked for Shell for about 4 years, and during that time I decided to go back to school for my MBA. That’s how I winded up at UH. I did a part time MBA program with focus in global management and entrepreneurship. Since I just completed my MBA, I want to dive into building SportsBetz while everything is still fresh on the mind and I still have good connections.
2. So how’d you come up with SportsBetz?
Mike: It was a hybrid of a couple of ideas. My wife and I do fun person to person bets, like “what actor was in this movie” or “what did we eat for dinner last Friday?”. The second idea came from when I was in Columbus and I coined the term “Brogociation”, which means finding the sweet-spot bet inside the “zone of possible agreement”. Thus, SportsBetz was born.
People like to compete, and with SportsBetz they can bet on their own terms instead of betting with analytic sports books.
3. What exactly is SportsBetz?
It’s a mobile sports betting application, to put it in layman’s terms. Sports are the perfect landscape for betting, but when you look at the betting options, most are done through sports books which are inherently impersonal and don’t capture the heart of the competition. With SportsBetz, people can set their own betting terms, so they can “win with their team and bet with their friends”.
4. What makes you an entrepreneur?
I’ve always had this knack to connect people and make some money doing it. In high school I started buying sunglasses in bulk and selling them to my friends for a couple bucks up charge. I have also sold stuff on E-bay, started a lawnmowing and landscaping business. I’m an entrepreneur because it puts me into tough, risky, uncomfortable situations and gives me an opportunity to grow and become the person I’m made to be.
5. What are some of your hobbies?
Anything outdoors really. Hiking, tennis, anything in the water. Pool, ocean or lake. I love nature. I love getting out to the mountains whenever I can get out of Houston. Anything I can do with my wife, and now my kid, are good hobbies.
6. What’s your favorite thing about working out of Station Houston this summer?
It’s great! When I first moved to Houston I knew I would be working out of Deer Park, but always wanted to work downtown, so it’s fulfilling in that way. But on top of that, RED Labs and Station Houston have both provided a lot of great resources for us to learn and grow, not only ourselves but our companies, and I love that.
7. What motivates you?
Now having a son, it’s motivating thinking about being able to provide for him. Reaching my full potential, and becoming who God created me to be is what motivates me. To reach new heights and to see what is possible.
8. Who are some of your role models? Dead or Alive?
First one I would say is Jesus Christ. His humility and humble sacrifice is something I strive after as a Christian everyday. Martin Luther I would say is the second one. He went totally against the grain and stuck his neck out there for what he believed in. That story inspires me every day.
9. Do you have any favorite quotes you live by?
Yeah, definitely. “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” -FDR. Life’s going to be hard, but it will make you more skilled at what you’re doing.
10. Where do you see SportsBetz in a year?
So we joined RED Labs and thought “We’ll give SportsBetz a try and make it live up to its’ potential”. The legal side of sports betting I’m still uncovering and researching, but I want to make it an active platform on IOS and Android, gain traction and get users excited and competitive about their teams and rivalries. And having a good time.
11. Anything you wish to add?
I think this opportunity is a great culmination of all my studies. Marketing, leadership, know-how, it’s all ingrained in the start-up company process. So I’m thankful to be here with people that are smarter than me in some of those areas, and see things progressing.
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