Meet The Team: Q&A Session with Huddle VP of Product, Mario Silva

February 27, 2024

Meet The Team: Q&A Session with Huddle VP of Product, Mario Silva

In our new edition of 'Meet the Team' series, we had the chance of sitting down with Mario Silva, Huddle's VP of Product. With an impressive track record spanning over a decade in the sports betting industry, Mario brings a wealth of expertise to the table when it comes to the product vertical in sports betting.

During this interview, Mario delves into his personal journey, shedding light on the pivotal moments that shaped his career. Additionally, he highlights the remarkable achievements of his team and explores how their collective effort has put Huddle in the spotlight in the sports betting world.

Can you tell us about your background and journey that led you to your current role as VP of Product at Huddle?

My journey in the sports betting industry began back in 2013 when I made the exciting decision to relocate to London and join the esteemed team at OpenBet as a Product Owner. It was a pivotal moment for me, stepping into a role where I had the opportunity to shape and define cutting-edge products for some of the industry's leading operators across the globe.

Over the course of eight years at OpenBet, I had the privilege of working alongside incredibly talented individuals and contributing to the development of market-leading solutions.

When the opportunity arose to join Huddle and take on the challenge of leading their product development efforts, I saw it as a natural progression in my career journey. The prospect of leveraging my expertise to drive Huddle's growth and deliver unparalleled value to its users was incredibly compelling.

As a VP of Product, can you give us a bit of an insight on what sets Huddle's approach to product development apart from other companies in the sports betting industry?

It all starts in the way we see Huddle’s role in the industry: not simply as another SaaS supplier, but rather as a partner to sports betting operators. This collaborative mindset materializes in a myriad of ways, of which I’d like to highlight the following:

Collaborative Product Roadmaps: we work closely with our clients to develop product roadmaps that align with their business objectives, market strategies, and customer needs. By soliciting their feedback and involving them in the decision-making process we ensure the product meets their expectations and requirements.

Tailored Solutions and Consultative Approach: instead of offering one-size-fits-all solutions, we take the time to understand each client's unique challenges, opportunities and goals. By offering tailored solutions and providing consultative guidance, we help clients optimize their use of the product and achieve the desired outcomes.

Transparent Communication and Relationship Building: we foster open and transparent communication channels with our clients, building trust and rapport over time. How? By maintaining regular contact, providing status updates, and soliciting feedback at every stage of the product development lifecycle. 

Can you share a recent success story or milestone achieved by your product team?

Launching the Same Game Parlay (SGP) product is our biggest achievement so far. Given its complexity, in order to succeed, innovative thinking and great lengths of cross-team collaboration were required by all those involved.

I truly believe our SGP has all the capabilities to be the best in the market, given its unique set of features (100% market combination, pre-match and in-play, void/push legs SGP re-calculation, 100% cashout availability) and technical architecture behind it.

In an industry as challenging as sports betting, it’s by having products such as Huddle’s SGP that operators will be able to differentiate themselves and be able to entice the most product-centric customers.

Customer feedback is crucial for shaping product development. Could you share some specific methods or strategies you employ at Huddle to effectively gather and integrate customer feedback into our product development process?

Absolutely. We wouldn’t be able to position ourselves as partners if we didn’t take into account our customer’s feedback. Some of the ways we gather feedback are the following:

Customized Feedback Sessions: tailored feedback sessions to understand their specific pain points, requirements and desired outcomes. We schedule regular check-ins or business reviews to discuss our customer's overall satisfaction, identify areas for improvement and explore opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

Surveys and Feedback Loops: targeted surveys and feedback loops within our customer’s environment, to gather structured feedback on specific aspects of the product. These surveys are concise, relevant, and aligned with their business objectives to maximize response rates and actionable insights.

Performance Metrics: analyze performance metrics from our customers to gain insights into how they are leveraging the product, which features are most valued, and where improvements may be needed. 

Can you share a bit about any upcoming projects or initiatives that the product team at Huddle is currently working on?

Our product development focus is currently split between four main areas:

Odds Feed: we are wrapping up our MLB Player Props and Micros products, which will be launched ahead of the 2024 season. It’s a significant milestone for Huddle, as it represents being live with our full US Odds product (Core & Derivatives, Game Props, Player Props, Micros and SGP) for NFL, NBA, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, MLB and NHL. Having consolidated the US Odds product, we will move on to other popular sports like Soccer and Tennis, aiming for a release later this year.

MTS: we are continuously adding new features to our trading and risk management platform, always with the underlying principles of automation, algorithmic profiling and scalability. 

Beting Engine: we are working on V1 of our Betting Engine, with the aim of getting it GLI certified at some point this year. 

Retail: in conjunction with our partners TipWin, we are in the final stages of implementing a full-service sports betting solution for retail. This partnership will offer operators the chance to merge Huddle’s industry-leading Odds Feed and trading services with Tipwin’s hardware. 

Given that building a vertically integrated SaaS business is mostly about deciding what NOT to do and prioritizing ruthlessly what is essential for the business sustainability and growth, how does your role as VP of Product at Huddle contribute to this process? Can you walk us through your approach to prioritization and ensuring that Huddle’s product roadmap aligns with business's sustainability and growth objectives?

Being the VP of Product, prioritization is naturally one of my key responsibilities. While being a complex and challenging task, it is one I deeply enjoy. 

Given Huddle’s positioning as a B2B SaaS provider, my approach for aligning the  product roadmap with business goals tends to follow the principles below:

Understand Business Objectives: I collaborate closely with the executive team to understand Huddle's overarching business objectives, including revenue targets, market expansion goals, and competitive positioning. This ensures that the product strategy is directly aligned with the company's long-term vision and priorities.

Alignment with Business Development: I work closely with business development to ensure the product roadmap is aligned with our customer acquisition efforts. This involves collaborating on sales meetings with current and potential customers; establish a feedback loop where business development team can provide input on the product roadmap based on the needs and requirements of Huddle’s prospects and current customers; prioritizing features and enhancements that directly address the needs and pain points of customers/prospects identified by the business development team, hence helping close deals more effectively; and coordinating product launches and feature releases in alignment with go-to-market commitments by Huddle’s business development team.

Prioritization Framework: I establish a prioritization framework that takes into account various factors such as customer impact, strategic alignment, technical feasibility and business value. This framework guides decision-making and ensures that we focus on initiatives that have the greatest potential to drive sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

Quarterly Planning Sessions: I lead quarterly planning sessions with cross-functional teams to review the product roadmap, evaluate progress against key metrics, and identify priorities for the upcoming quarter. These sessions provide an opportunity to align stakeholders, solicit input from different departments, and ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding product priorities.

Looking ahead, what are your long-term goals and aspirations for Huddle's product roadmap, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Simply put, our main long-term goal is to be the premier sportsbook platform provider in the industry. 

How do we plan to achieve this ambition? By following and expanding the three core pillars that have brought us to where we are today:

Talented Teams: We will continue to invest in upscaling the skills and nurturing our deeply talented teams across product management, engineering, design, analytics and other key areas

Customer-Centric Approach: our commitment to customer satisfaction and success will remain at the forefront of our product strategy. We will continue to listen attentively to our customers' needs, preferences, and feedback, and use these insights to inform our product decisions. By prioritizing features and enhancements that directly address customer pain points and deliver tangible value, we will strengthen customer loyalty and drive long-term growth.

Innovation: We will strive to stay ahead of the curve by investing in research and development, exploring emerging technologies, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the sportsbook industry.

In addition to these pillars, we will also focus on expanding our product offering to cater to evolving market trends and customer needs. This may include diversifying into new verticals, expanding our geographic reach, or forming strategic partnerships to enhance our product ecosystem.

Overall, by staying true to our core values, investing in our people, prioritizing customer success, and embracing a culture of innovation, we are confident that we will achieve our long-term goals.