Denise Coates has been named as the sixth most successful entrepreneur in the UK by Management Today magazine, but given her success was that really fair?
Recently the insider magazine “Management Today” published a list of the Top 100 Entrepreneurs in the UK compiled with the aid of Philip Beresford the chap that pulls together the well-respected Sunday Times Rich List. Pushing markets forward can often be a bit of a thankless task with the high rewards so often celebrated easily offset by the large, typically fiscal, risks one has to endure. Just ask Richard Branson who may well be wondering at the moment if the sky really is the limit.
Whilst the list itself might suffer hugely from being topped by Victoria Beckham, a choice you can’t help thinking was made by a publisher all too aware her picture looks good on the page of a magazine, it does include some far more worthy names. Notable amongst these is Denise Coates, daughter of life-long Stoke City FC optimist Peter Coates, and the power behind the biggest and most successful online gambling site in the UK, indeed the world; Bet365.
The rise of Bet365 has been one of the undeniable success stories of the last decade and a half and this almost entirely due to the leadership and strategic acumen shown by Denise. Perhaps it was working as a number-cruncher in the back office for her father, perhaps the econometrics degree, perhaps just the sheer determination and drive that one simply has to have if one adopts four young children (as she did), but Denise has pushed not just her business but the entire sector forward near single-handedly.
The fiscal period 2013-2014 saw Bet365‘s profits show a hugely healthy increase topping 213.8 million GBP, coming off the back of 1.37 billion GBP’s worth of business. That’s a rise in profits of some 44%, a figure made all the more remarkable by the still somewhat fractious prevailing economic conditions. Given those numbers and the almost Dickensian nature of the company’s formation in a carpark residing portacabin back in 2000 and the RBS loan of only 15 million GBP, her ranking only sixth seems a tad unfair.
Delimiting Technology’s Uses
Of course the underpinning to the success both of Bet365 and Denise, who took home dividends of some 60 million GBP, is the extremely astute reading of the intersection between technology and the gambling market. From the outset the vision of the internet’s wide reach bringing together those who wish to gamble with an all but endless range of opportunities to do so, has been core to the company’s strategy, but it has augmented this by use of other technologies somewhat left askance by the competition.
The obvious example of this is highlighted by the fact that for a great many people Bet365 will be forever synonymous with Ray Winstone’s dulcet tones, his face being front and center in their advertising campaigns, perhaps missing the point that the Live Betting that lies behind that campaign is a groundbreaking real-time leveraging of television audiences and internet tools. This might not seem a huge divergence from the status quo, but it actually represents the first ripples of what is likely to be a tsunami.
Where Denise leads it seems inevitable others will follow. The ability for the viewing public to put their money where their mouth is, there and then, whilst watching at home with friends and family, is unlikely to remain the preserve of Bet365 alone, with competitors, and indeed those in other sectors entirely, eying the results of this gamble with no small degree of envy. Denise plugged internet betting in the UK into a pre-existing popular entertainment smoothly, efficiently and without any more issues than a few right-wing tabloid newspapers muttering under their breath about it.
Her understanding and belief in the technology, and in the myriad of ways it can be used to bring markets to people, has given Bet365 one of the clearest most accessible web presences, with their site and functionality thereof being an almost text-book like example of how to maintain a net-based business front-end, one many of their competitors are still attempting and failing to emulate correctly, and behind that, is an international strategy par excellence.
Obstacles To Be Overcome
It was once said by Denise herself that only 25% of the business Bet365 does is from the UK, and many industry watchers believe that figure is unlikely to have changed all that much in the intervening time, and given the global reach of the internet, it is unsurprising that Denise’s success seems to stretch just as far, despite the sometimes draconian imposition of obstacles and barriers placed in her way by intransigent unrealistic, and often two faced, regimes.
The most notable of these is China. Unlike UK gambling laws the Chinese keep gambling strictly illegal…….except for in Hong Kong and Macau which are “Special Administrative Regions”, a nonsense that the protestors in Mong Kok will assure you is mere farce at this point, and so is online gambling. Of course China can’t impose its laws on the rest of the world, and indeed shouldn’t be allowed in this day and age to stop its citizens using the net in its entirety, but that hasn’t stopped them trying.
Bet365‘s commitment to providing service to those who have to put up with a hypocritical government that rarely listens to the desires of its people and tends towards wishing to limit their access to freely available information and products, extends to China under Xi Jinping as much as it does to the UK under Cameron. It is one of the most determined of the decisions reached by Denise Coates and her team, standing in direct conflict with the idea the net can be fenced off or parceled up.
Of course Denise put together one of the best technical teams in the business and, frankly, they’ve made the great firewall of China look ridiculous, easily outwitting the forces of repression and continuing to provide top quality service in the local language to a population that wants it, despite their uber-nanny state’s wishes. Denise Coates has taken on an industry and led it, she’s bent new technology to her whim and now stands against those who deny their people freedom……and she only gets sixth?
Hey, Management Today….what does she have to do to win?