Business Technology

Geonomics: Modernising the old-fashioned lottery business with tech and emotion to make a $1bn firm

4 min read

04 March 2015

Former deputy editor

Gaming business Geonomics, in this year's Everline Future 50, was launched when one half of the co-founding siblings had a flutter on the lottery back when he was 18, recognising the process of playing was old-fashioned and sensing an opportunity to regenerate the game for digital-savvy millennials.

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Name: Geonomics
Industry/sector: Technology
Date founded: 2008
Founder: James and Henry Oakes
Location: London

Another family team in our Future 50, James and Henry Oakes are the co-founders of gaming business Geonomics, occupying the roles of CEO and sales director respectively. However, it was Henry who came up with the business idea during his time as a student.

“I came up with the concept for Geonomics when I was 18. I was struggling for money, trying to fund my education and impulsively bought a lottery ticket from my local corner shop. It was then I began thinking how old fashioned the lottery was,” Henry recalled. “When everybody my age was using the internet for traditional tasks such as shopping, wasn’t it odd that lottery is still based around such an outdated concept? Surely there must be potential to change this and bring it into the digital age for the millennials?”

The company noted that the global lottery market racks up to $270bn annually – more than gaming, music and film combined – thus Henry set out to exploit the digital side of the market, which accounts for five per cent of the turnover.

His brother James, armed with a BA and MSc in economics from the University of Kent and the London School of Economics respectively, and experience as an economic forecaster and financial systems developer, joined the project with Henry explaining the internet allowed to “re-examine lottery: to drill down to its fundamentals and then improve it.”

The reexamination of the gambling channel led to an idea that the lottery could be won by winning places on Google Maps, making the game emotional to deliver more of a connection with the user.

According to Henry: “The idea worked because it changes how people feel about lottery. It allows players to approach it sentimentally – by visualising their choices and chances of success. The lucky place could be player’s house; where they were born; where they proposed to their wife even!

“We’re making player choices, in GeoLotto.com’s case, game playing decisions, an extension of who a person is and bringing a meaningful new interactive angle to a conventional game. This means we can build a powerful relationship with our players.”

The business has secured more than £30m of investment and in addition to leadership from the brothers, it was able to hire a CTO from Betfair to ensure the game is worthy of standards for both the industry and players alike.

Now with a team of 50 people in its London office, the company hopes to achieve global results with GeoLotto.com following a UK launch in September 2014. Additionally, it’s giving back and has raised more than £13,000 for blood cancer charity over the past year.

Henry added: “Since day one, James and I have wanted to create a $1bn company and – considering the market, and lack of current innovation – we are optimistic we can achieve this goal.”

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